Interesting academic papers about comment sections


Here’s some academic papers we’ve found about Comment Sections, in particular those on news sites. Which have we missed?

Full Text
Antisocial behavior in Online Communities
Proceedings of the Ningth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

Designing for Dialogue - How the Design of Web Commenting Systems Affect the Conversation
2010 paper on comment system design (LINK UPDATED)

Online Newspapers’ Readers’ Comments -Democratic Conversation Platforms or Virtual Soapboxes
Comunicação e Sociedade vol. 23 2013

The More Social Cues, The Less Trolling? An Empirical Study of Online Commenting Behavior
Presented at The Twelfth Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (2013)

Online Comment Moderation - Emerging Best Practices
WAN-IFRA 2013 Report

Numerous papers by Nick Diakopoulos

What prompts users to click and comment: A longitudinal study of online news
Journalism February 2015 vol. 16 no. 2 198-217

Opinion expression during social conflict: Comparing online reader comments and letters to the editor
Journalism April 2012 vol. 13 no. 3 303-319

From Public Squares to Public Sphere: Rethinking Systems for Reader Comments on Online News Sites
Chapter in ‘Digital Journalism’ (2014)

Readers’ Debate A Local Murder Trial: “Race” in the Online Public Sphere
Communication, Culture & Critique, Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 179–200, March 2013

Public Sphere 2.0? The Democratic Qualities of Citizen Debates in Online Newspapers
The International Journal of Press/Politics October 2011 vol. 16 no. 4 463-487

Reader comments as press criticism: Implications for the journalistic field
Journalism April 19, 2015

A Tale of Two Stories from “Below the Line” – Comment Fields at the Guardian
The International Journal of Press/Politics July 2015 vol. 20 no. 3 317-338


The Spreading of misinformation online 1.4.2016

Introduce yourself!

A book, not a paper, but:
Joseph Reagle Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web


I’ve read that! It’s very good - also looks at review sections of websites such as Amazon and Yelp as well as more conventional Comment sections.

I also recommend Whitney Phillips, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture


Sarah Jeong, The Internet of Garbage


Great to see the community looking to engage with the latest research in this domain.

Here are a few more papers:

Rolf Fredheim et al. Anonymity and Online Commenting: The Broken Windows Effect and the End of Drive-by Commenting. Proc. Web Science 2015. [A study of the HuffPo comments before and after they introduced FB authentication of accounts]

Chiao-Fang Hsu, Elham Khabiri, and James Caverlee. 2009. Ranking Comments on the Social Web. Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Computational Science and Engineering. [Develops several quantitative measures for ranking quality comments]

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen. Understanding the conditions for public discourse: four rules for selecting letters to the editor. Journalism Studies 3 (1). 2002. [Before there were online comments, there were letters to the editor.]

Kevin Coe et al. Online and Uncivil? Patterns and Determinants of Incivility in Newspaper Website Comments. Journal of Communication. 2014 [How to define and measure incivility in online comments]

Sara Sood, Judd Antin, and Elizabeth Churchill. 2012. Profanity use in online communities. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1481-1490. DOI= [How to detect profanity in online comments]

Souneil Park, Minsam Ko, Jungwoo Kim, Ying Liu, and Junehwa Song. 2011. The politics of comments: predicting political orientation of news stories with commenters’ sentiment patterns. In Proceedings of the ACM 2011 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW '11).

Abhay Sukumaran, Stephanie Vezich, Melanie McHugh, and Clifford Nass. 2011. Normative influences on thoughtful online participation. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '11).

Cliff Lampe and Paul Resnick. 2004. Slash(dot) and burn: distributed moderation in a large online conversation space. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '04).

Siamak Faridani, Ephrat Bitton, Kimiko Ryokai, and Ken Goldberg. 2010. Opinion space: a scalable tool for browsing online comments. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '10).

J. David Wolfgang. PURSUING THE IDEAL: How news website commenting policies structure public discourse. Digital Journalism. 2015.


These are amazing, thanks Nick!

Introduce yourself!

These are so fantastic. Thank you!


You’ve a broken link on the second paper. It’s also available here:é%20Mabande%20-%20Designing%20for%20Dialogue.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
PS, unless they have very different standards in Sweden, I don’t think it’s a doctoral thesis, at just 17 pages!


Oops, thanks Simon. Both now corrected.


More here:


Hi everyone!

In 2010, I wrote an thesis about why readers produce content news websites (in portuguese):ão-da-construção-cidadão-repórter.pdf


Thanks Rafael! Can you summarize your findings for us non-Portuguese speakers?


sure @andrew_coral!!!

My thesis sought to assess the various formats of the insertion of the citizen in the information process of
collaboration and understanding the motivation for contributing in news website: anticipated reciprocity; increased recognition; sense of efficacy and sense of community (

Below, links to share with everyone:
ANTIKAINEN, M., VAATAJA, H.Rewarding in Open Innovation Communities - How to
Motivate Members? <>.

BAUWENS, Michel. The Political Economy of Peer Production, 2005.

HARS, A and OU, S. Working for free? Motivations for participating in open source Projects,
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,>. Acesso em 8 abr. 2009.

Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and
Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects


That’s great, thanks Rafael! And what can you tell us about the formats and motivation??


Hi, @andrew_coral. I’ve studied three websites that, unfortunately, had closed their projects. The main reason to produce content is recognition. People who produce content seek to be part of journalistic projects and media companies need to take this feeling to create relations between “former readers” and journalists. That’s why I believe in Coral Project. I’ve watched keynotes in SXSW and I appreciate the project: I hope that I have the chance to use it in Brazil.


Oh, what a shame - and thanks Rafael.

(ccing @Burgos, who has experience with the Brazilian market too. )


Nice to see my good friend @rafaelsbarai here with great resources. I think that more people in Brazil would be interested in what the Coral Project does, even if the market there es a little suspicious of UGC as well. If you need help in any sort of international outreach, @andrew_coral, let me know. :slight_smile:


Fantastic resources! I am adding some stuff from social science:

Here is a relatively new one I just saw presented at ECPR

There is a ton on collaborative computer supported argument visualization (CSAV) that I could add from Mark (Klein), Luca (Iandoli) and others, but it is not about trolls, it focuses on the distortions that occur even without trolls in large scale conversation centric tools.

As a taste of that stuff here is my randomized controlled trial to test the deliberatorium vs a standard forum

If it is not off topic let me know and I am happy to add more things like that


Here are a few more papers (mostly social science perspective. Sorry I couldn’t link to all; they come from a folder of pdfs for my lit review):

Combs, T. (2013). Making meaning of body-size diversity in magazines: A grounded theory analysis of reader comments. UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA. [thesis]

Koteyko, N., Jaspal, R., & Nerlich, B. (2013). > Climate change and ‘climategate’ in online reader comments: a mixed methods study. The Geographical Journal, 179(1), 74-86.

Len-Ríos, M. E., Bhandari, M., & Medvedeva, Y. S. (2014). Deliberation of the Scientific Evidence for Breastfeeding Online Comments as Social Representations. Science Communication, 36(6), 778-801.

Nielsen, C. (2012). Newspaper journalists support online comments. Newspaper Research Journal, 33(1), 86-100.

Çatalbaş Ürper, D., & Çevikel, T. (2016). Editorial Policies, Journalistic Output and Reader Comments: A comparison of mainstream online newspapers in Turkey. Journalism Studies, 17(2), 159-176.

Quinn, K., & M. Powers, R. (2016). Revisiting the concept of ‘sharing’ for digital spaces: an analysis of reader comments to online news. Information, Communication & Society, 19(4), 442-460.

Hlavach, L., & Freivogel, W. H. (2011). Ethical implications of anonymous comments posted to online news stories. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 26(1), 21-37.

Cenite, M., & Zhang, Y. (2010). Recommendations for hosting audience comments based on discourse ethics. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 25(4), 293-309.

Regan, Á., Shan, L., McConnon, Á., Marcu, A., Raats, M., Wall, P., & Barnett, J. (2014). Strategies for dismissing dietary risks: Insights from user-generated comments online. Health, risk & society, 16(4), 308-322.

McCluskey, M., & Hmielowski, J. (2012). Opinion expression during social conflict: Comparing online reader comments and letters to the editor. Journalism, 13(3), 303-319.

Slavtcheva-Petkova, V. (2016). “We Are Not Fools” Online News Commentators’ Perceptions of Real and Ideal Journalism. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 21(1), 68-87.

Bergström, A., & Wadbring, I. (2014). Beneficial yet crappy: Journalists and audiences on obstacles and opportunities in reader comments. European Journal of Communication, 0267323114559378.

Winter, S., & Krämer, N. C. (2016). Who’s right: The author or the audience? Effects of user comments and ratings on the perception of online science articles.

Weber, P. (2014). Discussions in the comments section: Factors influencing participation and interactivity in online newspapers’ reader comments. New Media & Society, 16(6), 941-957.

Secko, D. M., Tlalka, S., Dunlop, M., Kingdon, A., & Amend, E. (2011). The unfinished science story: Journalist–audience interactions from the Globe and Mail’s online health and science sections. Journalism, 12(7), 814-831.


Wow, this is an amazing list, thank you Marie!