Introduce yourself!


Welcome Stavros,

I love Toronto. What places do you see tech being in most need of supplementation? How so?


Hi Sydette! Thank you for the welcome. The grant is focused on the promotion of intellectual humility so we plan to develop/adapt metrics designed to track intellectual humility, on top of that in past experiments we have used metrics capturing the quality of discussion, inclusion of women and minorities, cognitive complexity & epistemic quality of the output, so we will definitely recycle some of those. But we are really open to suggestions! Ideas are welcome.


Related to journalism I like the new newsletter vision. Tech relative, too much obsession with the tech and it can avoid harder questions, I’ve seen too many jumps to the new toy in journalism. VR is the latest one. eliminated about 99% of engineering, focus is on humans. I like idea as engineering cost too much to maintain (initial building is often doable) and the pace of change is rapid, the more one builds the harder it is to stick around long enough to get it right, most don’t.

My company deals with some of the journalism plumbing, it’s not as sexy. But if can’t identify and talk to smart people on an ongoing basis can’t create quality content by deadline and on a budget. Without good content all the tech/social media tricks don’t last.

Eager to see tools for moderation, closing commenting is a big loss, but understandable as if moderate it’s expensive and can get sued (Peter Thiel didn’t help). While if do not moderate less likely to be suited but it’s a mess and dreadful which no media company will thankfully support. I used to moderate a forum for a public broadcaster.


Greetings. I’m a prof at the University of Westminster, UK. I’m a specialist in democratic innovations and am particularly interested in how to promote more thoughtful and inclusive public deliberation in news comments sections. I’m about to submit a research proposal to undertake a field experiment using a couple of online deliberation platforms in news sections with Paolo Spada who’s also a member of this community. If you are interested to hear more about the project, drop me a line – and we’re always up for new members of our research and practice board. Look forward to learning more from this impressive community and feeding in findings if (when?!) our funding comes through.


Big thanks to the Coral team for opening up this dialogue!

I’m Jenny, and I work on social media and growing a safe space for our mostly introverted community at Quiet Revolution.

Like a typical introvert, I’ve been listening to convos here and observing Coral’s progress—and finally signed up today. I’m excited to learn from you all and also curious about how to improve the way we engage with communities online—especially with temperament in mind.

And, hello :slight_smile:


Welcome Jenny!

The Quiet Revolution looks terrific. What kinds of tools / features do you think can help encourage introverts to participate in discussions on their terms?


Welcome Graham! @Paolo is also here, and shared something of the work he’s doing here.

We’d love to hear more as the project progresses. We also have a space for posting academic papers relevant to comments and communities.

Are there any works that you would say are must-reads for those interested in this space, either academic or otherwise?


Thanks Andrew. I’ve been working on democratic innovations for over twenty years, but mostly focused on face-to-face participation and deliberation. There is much that can be learned and adapted to the analysis of online deliberation – the danger is that we don’t draw from the existing knowledge base and end up reinventing the wheel (again!). It is hard to make methodological generalizations about this research area, but there is a lot of interest in how to measure deliberative quality of democratic engagement. One of the more sophisticated approaches is the discourse quality index. The following article uses the DQI to evaluate a transnational deliberative poll (Europolis) that brought together around 400 people from all 27 EU-countries to discuss third country migration and climate change over three days.

Gerber, Marlène; Bächtiger, André; Shikano, Susumu; Reber, Simon; Rohr, Samuel (forthcoming): Deliberative Abilities and Deliberative Influence in a Transnational Deliberative Poll (EuroPolis). British Journal of Political Science. Available in Early View.

I’ve published on an experiment involving 6,000 participants that looked at the relative impact of information and discussion on preference change. The biggest driver: discussion, but typically without information…

Smith, G., John, P. and Sturgis, P. ‘Taking political engagement online: an experimental analysis of asynchronous discussion forums’ Political Studies 61 (4): 709-730.

Happy to post papers if they are of interest.


Hi everyone! My name is Bailey Poland.

I’m the author of Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence online, which is a book about the abuse women face in all facets of our online lives. Haters will be officially released November 1st, but preorders are already shipping, and I’m very stoked about it.

Currently, I am writing my master’s thesis on whether and how women are being silenced in the comments sections of articles about feminism, and looking at PhD programs that specialize in digital and cultural rhetorics. My day job is as a communications analyst for ADP.

I am here to learn more about the awesome and productive work people are doing to make the comments section into something useful and valuable, and to share my own knowledge!


Welcome Bailey! You’re too polite to link to the book but I’ll add one here. I’ve been reading it, and can recommend it to everyone. It moves the conversation forward in some important ways.

Can you tell us about which publications you’re including as part of your thesis? And which authors you think are essential reading on this topic?


Thank you! :slight_smile: I am really hoping people find value in Haters - so far it seems like the responses have been positive, which is encouraging!

Right now I’m in the literature review stage of the thesis, so I am up to my ears in articles and books, some of which I saw in the topic on academic articles. Reading the Comments is high up on my list. I’ve been funneling my research through a few lenses, starting with studies of uninhibited behavior. Key publications there, although dated, are “Affect in CMC” (Kiesler et al, 1985) and “Contexts of Uninhibited Behavior” (Kayany, 1998) which are seminal texts in the debate about whether online behavior is shaped by CMC itself or by context.

From there I narrow it down to studies of flaming, which is an interesting topic - “Reconceptualizing ‘Flaming’ and Other Problematic Messages” by O’Sullivan and Flanagin is a good one for understanding the scholarly approach to flaming, although a little infuriating if you don’t ascribe to the notion that authorial intent overrides audience interpretation. (They try to apply their framework to workplace sexual harassment in ways that would basically undo 40 years of feminist legal work, if that tells you anything.) Emma Jane’s work on the topic in “Flaming? What Flaming?” and “Your a Ugly, Whorish Slut” [sic] should not be missed.

Drawing ever closer to the actual topic of my thesis, I’m working on articles dealing specifically with cybersexism right now. Herring’s 1999 article “Rhetorical Dynamics of Gender Harassment On-Line” is a really valuable one, because it deals specifically with discursive strategies that can be used to silence women, both overtly and implicitly. “Sexual Harassment in Online Communications” (Biber et al, 2002) looks at how undergraduates perceive sexual harassment in an online vs. offline classroom setting, but there is some good information in there about the way men and women look at particular behaviors.

Next up is articles specifically on comment sections, which is where Reading the Comments will come in handy, and I’ll be looking at a few articles about differences in amount/volume of talk as well. “Understanding Gender Differences in Amount of Talk” is from 1993, but it’s a meta-analysis of 50 years of prior research, so that’s a great starting point.

And now I’ll take a deep breath!

One of the major gaps in all of the above research is a distinct lack of intersectionality. If social and/or rhetorical power are considered, it’s almost always strictly along the axis of gender - there’s no real consideration of how race, sexuality, dis/ability, or other relevant factors come into play. Those variables might make some types of quantitative research challenging, but the almost complete silence on those issues is really frustrating.


These are terrific sources, thanks for sharing. Reading the Comments is a terrific book (though focuses a lot on Amazon and other reviews, and less on conventional comment sections than I’d like, but that’s because I have particular interest in the latter.)

Joseph came to our event Beyond Comments in the spring, as did Dr Whitney Phillips (whose book I recommend) and J. Nathan Matias, whose work is very relevant for your area of study. His paper on gender discrimination in online news audiences is part of a wider look at gender representation in the news that might be helpful.

Do you see any intersectional work in other areas that might be a good model for future media/discourse research?


Oh, ha, as soon as I post this, I see this tweet:



I’m super excited to read the Rhetorical Dynamics article . I’m really interested in how gender and racial dynamics, meet theories of technology especially around knowledge production.

Because the ideal of comments is information and exchange requires examining who and what gets validated.

So I’m super excited! I’ve been going through Jaron Lanier but there are many gaps


I am definitely going to be checking those out! Those sound like they’re going to be right up my alley. I’ve come across some of Dr. Phillips’ work - I have her book (unfortunately buried in storage right now), and I have been looking forward to reading that one.

This is totally and obviously my bias talking, but rhetorical studies in general have been a really useful vehicle for me to expand my ability to incorporate multiple viewpoints and think about discourse and conversations in ways that are more inclusive of interpretations and vantage points outside my own. Some people might reach that point through sociology or psychology or the hard sciences, but for me it’s been analyzing rhetorical strategies.

As far as a specific model, Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa Kirsch wrote a book on feminist rhetorical practices (conveniently called Feminist Rhetorical Practices) that has advice and theorizing and strategies for doing work in reflexive and reflective ways. It’s specific to rhetoric, but the nice thing about rhetoric is that it’s applicable to pretty much any field you want to bring it to. :slight_smile:


Herring is one of my favorites on this topic! I’ve read the Rhetorical Dynamics piece article so many times I’m having trouble keeping my review of it to a reasonable length. Jessie Daniels’ “Rethinking Cyberfeminism(s)” (2009) is another good one, especially in its unpacking of how cyberfeminism’s biggest names really failed at dealing with the intersections of race, gender, and power. Her critique of Sadie Plant’s gender essentialist and very white understanding of how the Internet can be liberatory is continuously relevant, I’ve found.

The idea of who gets to speak and on what topics and when is in many ways the backbone of my thesis project - it’s part of the conversation that gets lost way too often when concerns about censorship are largely ascribed to people in positions of privilege getting mad that they can’t blithely abuse everybody else with the same ease they’re used to.


I LOVE THE DANIELS ONE! oops sorry all caps. I think it’s a vein of cyber philosophy that hasn’t been fully explored and has shaped our dialectical norms around women in public conversation so much. especially now that news has become conversation based and instantaneous. Dynamics of power and upheaval within race and gender via social media are huge parts of community building and the distrust of media and needs more discourse around these ideas . Specifically non academically . We really want to build frameworks and tools for that kind of exploration


There is an ongoing research in face to face deliberation conducted by Karpowitz and Mendelberg and Shaker that uses laboratory experiment to explore the impact of different group composition in terms of gender on the quality of deliberation and interruptions and other things like that. They have started doing experiments more than 10 years ago, there is a famous book (here) and a bunch of articles (here). To my knowledge nobody has tried to do the same randomized controlled trial in an online discussion platform. Something I always wanted to do, but I never had the time/platform. One of the students of Graham Smith is doing a dissertation exactly on different id approaches (do you guys have a standardizes name for different disclosure levels of online ID? Anonimity/pseudo anonymity are just some cases, but people always talk about those), gender, group composition and quality of discussion online.


Hi everyone. I’m John Coate. I am the original online community manager going back to 1986 when I was employee #2 at The WELL in Sausalito, CA. In 1991-2 I wrote one of the first, if not the first, essays about the nature of online community and how to manage it:

I have done a lot of online community projects since then, and I am still at it.

In 1994, I co-founded the first major news website,, which I managed until 2001. We were the first to do a lot of things there, including the first ever live webcast of a major sporting event - Oakland As 1997. But most relevant to this group, we were the first news site to offer online reader comments, as well as a more structured conferencing-style community site that required registration. SF Gate now bears scant resemblance to how it was back in those days, but I originally proposed its creation as a way for the SF newspapers to evolve their relationship with their readers through direct engagement online. This of course is a kind of grail quest as many of you can attest, since you are still figuring it out all these years later.

Which I am very glad to see. I spent the previous seven years managing an NPR-affiliate FM station, but this year I am back at my old career, now working with a European group, Edgeryders (, that is a growing and vital gathering place for community-driven ideas, conversation and projects that focus on helping some of the world’s biggest and most difficult problems. Figuring out the best platforms and practices and people is a big part of my focus right now. I am delighted by what I have read here so far.

My website,, has a bunch of links to talks I have given and other items from my rather unusual career path. The site is not an advertisement for web design. It’s just simple and fast. My email is


Welcome John! It’s amazing to have Community Manager Royalty here in our community :slight_smile:

What do you think are the biggest changes in online community norms over the past 30 years, and what has stayed the same?