Content of news articles and comments dynamically shape the discussion value of news pieces online. Marc Ziegele, Mathias Weber, Oliver Quiring and Timo Breiner, all of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany, studied the effects of news articles and previous comments on user commenting.
The authors conducted an experiment with 436 participants. In the experiment, the news value of articles (high vs. low) and the presence of different kinds of comments (four kinds) were manipulated.
The results show that certain news factors (such as controversy and damage) and comment characteristics increased the willingness to comment. Involvement with previous comments also increased participants’ willingness to comment on articles.
Cognitive involvement made it less likely for participants to write uncivil comments, whereas affective involvement increased the likelihood for uncivil comments. For example, negative affective involvement stimulated participants desire to reply to comments containing incivility or topic drifts.
The article “The dynamics of online news discussions” was published in Information, Communication & Society and is available online (free abstract).
Picture: 20151104-OSEC-LSC-0828 by US Department of Agriculture, license public domain