Users are more likely to report crass comments, if they are made aware of the community guidelines prior to reading comments on a news website, write Teresa K. Naab and Anja Kalch, both of University of Augsburg. They conducted two experiments on German college students to see how different conditions affected their “flagging” behaviour (i.e. reporting comments).
Having users read instructions on acceptable behaviour and how to report misbehaviour will increase the flagging of non-compliant comments. Furthermore, the subsequent responses (or lack thereof) affect the willingness to report: if an uncivil comment gathers further uncivil support the likelihood of reporting increases.
The article “Flagging uncivil user comments” was published by the journal New Media & Society. It is available online (abstract free).
Picture: Untitled by Fiona Thompson, licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.