IAR Seminar: Ashwin Rajadesingan

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 12:00pm

Room 3330, North Quad

Learning before Leaping: How Newcomers Conform to Civility Norms in Online Political Communities 

Some online communities maintain distinctive norms that are vastly different from norms outside them. Newcomers to these communities need to conform to their distinctive norms to become successful contributors. Past research suggests that norm conforming processes occur both before and after users join communities. Through an analysis of distinctive civility norms in political subreddits on Reddit, we study the effect of pre-entry processes such as self-selection and learning by observation, and post-entry processes such as retention and learning by participation, on norm conformity.

Surprisingly, we observe that pre-entry processes contribute much more than post-entry processes to norm conformity in nearly all political communities we examined. In fact, we find that most of the norm conforming behavior occurs through learning by observation. The adjustments users make to match community civility norms based on just observing the community before making their first comment contribute most to norm conformity. We also show that this adjustment to match civility norms is community-specific and not transformative, that is, users return to how they previously behaved in the communities they participate in the future.

Ashwin Rajadesingan is a doctoral student in the School of Information. His research interests include social computing, network analysis, and machine learning.