ARTICLE: How to respond to uncivil comments?


Marc Ziegele and Pablo B. Jost, both of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, investigate the effects of a comment moderation strategy that recommends news outlets to respond publicly to uncivil comments, ask their authors to discuss more civilized, and demonstrate that the news outlet prefer high-quality discussions.

The article explores how factual vs. sarcastic journalistic responses to uncivil user comments affect observers’ perceptions of discussion atmosphere, the entertainment value, the credibility and quality of the news outlet, and ultimately, observers’ willingness to participate. A web-based experiment was conducted with 731 participants.

Results suggest that responding to uncivil commenters in a factual manner made observers perceive a more deliberative discussion atmosphere. Sarcastic responses weakened participation rates due to a decrease in the credibility of the news outlet and the quality of its stories, but increased the entertainment value.

The article “Not funny? The effects of factual versus sarcastic journalistic responses to uncivil user comments” was published online before print by Communication Research. Read the free abstract here.

Picture: Comment blogging button by sergio santos ( ), licence: CC BY 2.0


Edited on 13.10.2016: The information about participants was corrected from “sixty students” to “731 participants”.

Give us feedback