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Structural linearity and the hierarchy of online discussion participation

CollectionsDigital Humanities Australasia: Building, Mapping, Connecting (2012)
Title: Structural linearity and the hierarchy of online discussion participation
Author(s): Park, Sora
Publisher: Australasian Association for Digital Humanities
Citation: Park, S. (March 2012). Structural linearity and the hierarchy of online discussion participation. Presentation at the Digital Humanities Australasia 2012: Building, Mapping, Connecting [Conference][aaDH2012]. Canberra, Australia: ANU
Description: 
Due to accessibility and ease of use, the public is now able to engage in political discourse in the online space. However, the open space has been criticised for the lack of lively debates because most online message boards contain one‐sided views. The disparity among the readership and authorship – where the spiral of silence is amplified – is another point of criticism. The ongoing concern is whether this new environment leads to consensus through deliberation or whether it aggravates fragmentation and polarisation between clashing viewpoints. In this paper, I examine how the participatory behaviour in online discussion sites are related to the structure of threaded conversation. In threaded conversations posts appear on top of each other in reverse chronological order and each message is linked to its replies. Recent posts on the front page catch the attention of most visitors and depending on the popularity of the site, the pages are changed quickly. This is in contrast with blogs or social media where posts are controlled by the author and each message posts are shown according to the link between participants. In discussion sites, most members are not structurally linked with each other and readers usually select posts by the number of replies, topic reflected in the title of post and the reputation of the author. Thus the author has little control over what happens after the posting. The aim of this study is to empirically explore the online discussion process of the major online discussion sites in South Korea and how the structure of the sites induce different levels of participatory behaviour. The research questions that are asked in this study are: What is the relationship of the discussion sites’ structure to the different levels of participatory behaviour in online discussions? How does the reputation of online discussion participants affect the readership and responses to their posts? The first step of the research involves looking at what type of content and method of presentation leads to active discussion. Then, the processes of how messages are disseminated through various levels of participation within the discussion sites are analysed. The next step of research is to identify how the author’s reputation within the sites affects the dynamics of discussion.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/8994

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