What's in a (Missing) Name? Newspaper Online Forum Participants Sound Off about Civility and Anonymity

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Conference Proceeding

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A survey of participants in online comment forums associated with traditional newspapers indicated that while they dislike the rude nature of the commentary made there, and consider anonymity a proximate cause of that behavior, they still are supportive of keeping the forums anonymous. However, differences in support for anonymity were found on the basis of frequency of participation and on degree of aversion to the negativity. This reflects the same mixed results found in the general literature on anonymous computer-mediated communication, which documents how anonymity’s benefits to participation and open expression are balanced off against the lack of accountability that leads to flaming.


Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Conference in Denver, Colorado, August 2010.

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