Moderation in Online Communities
As Bob Kraut and Paul Resnick have argued in their seminal book about online communities, effective regulation is one of the most important factors that make online communities successful. While communities are certainly governed by platform policies such as user agreements and content policies, the majority of the moderation work is accomplished by volunteer moderators who enforce rules created by their own communities. In this project, we deeply investigate the moderation ecosystem of online communities—What are the existing rules? How are these rules created and enforced? How do the moderation teams work behind the scene? And how does the moderation ecosystem expand across multiple communities and platforms?
Our prior work includes a mixed-methods study of 100,000 subreddits and their rules. Our findings characterize the types of rules across Reddit, the frequency of rules at scale, and patterns of rules based on subreddit characteristics. We find that rules appear to be context-dependent for individual subreddits but also share common characteristics across the site. Taken together, our findings provide a rich description of this ecosystem of rules, motivating further inquiry into underlying mechanisms for rule formation and enforcement in online communities.
Machine Learning Classification of Mortality
Data models in computational social science and the design of online platforms increasingly rely on user-generated content. However, they often presume that users are alive. Failing to account for mortality is especially problematic in the context of social media where an increasing number of profiles represent those who have died. Identifying post-mortem content can ensure high-quality data science, as well as enable platforms to manage post-mortem content and support the bereaved. We present a computational linguistic analysis of post-mortem social media profiles and content. We further show that we can determine the post-mortem status of profiles after only the first few occurrences of post-mortem content. Finally, we discuss trade-offs between models that emphasize pre- vs. post-mortem precision in this sensitive context. These results mark a first step toward accurately identifying mortality on a large scale, and show how data scientists and platform designers can approach addressing mortality.
Communication Practices in Animated GIFs
Animated GIFs are increasingly popular in text-based communication. GIFs are appealing in part because they are rich and engaging, but they also shape the ways people communicate. Through in-depth qualitative interviews, this empirical, exploratory study examines the nuances of communication practices and experiences with animated GIFs. We identify prominent reasons that animated GIFs appeal to people, and how technical features and context around GIFs impact use of the medium. While the rich context in GIFs can enhance communication, these features also present challenges that can hinder communication. This paper concludes with a discussion of the important role that different types of context (e.g., interpersonal or source material) play in the use and interpretations of GIFs, and how the design of nonverbal communication tools should account for complex contexts embedded in communication media.