Understanding and Responding to Online Harassment
Online harassment is a problem with a long history, including a history of academic research on harassment, ranging across a wide range of fields. On this page, we list short collections of readings that will give you a start on many of the areas relevant to understanding and responding to online harassment.
Flagging and Reporting Systems
Platforms often offer systems for flagging or reporting online harassment. These readings describe this approach, its effects, and its limitations.
- What is a flag for?"
- Crawford, Kate, and Tarleton L. Gillespie 2014 What Is a Flag for? Social Media Reporting Tools and the Vocabulary of Complaint. New Media & Society.
- What is the flagging process like for those involved?
- Matias, J. Nathan, Amy Johnson, Whitney Erin Boesel, Brian Keegan, Jaclyn Friedman, Charlie DeTar. 2015 Reporting, Reviewing, and Responding to Harassment on Twitter. arXiv Preprint arXiv:1505.03359.
- Geiger, R. Stuart, and David Ribes 2010 The Work of Sustaining Order in Wikipedia: The Banning of a Vandal. In Proceedings of CSCW 2010 Pp. 117–126. ACM.
- What is the role of Terms of Service in Flagging Systems?
- What are the consequences of flagging policies for marginalized groups?
- Thakor, Mitali, and Danah Boyd 2013 Networked Trafficking: Reflections on Technology and the Anti-Trafficking Movement. Dialectical Anthropology 37(2): 277–290.
One approach to dealing with online harassment is to recruit volunteer moderators or responders to take a special role on a platform or in a community. This is the approach taken by Google Groups, Meetup.com, Reddit, Facebook Groups, and many online forums.
- What actions could moderators be supported to take? Grimmelman's paper offers a helpful taxonomy of moderation strategies, focusing on the "verbs of moderation" and the kinds of powers you might give moderators. Grimmelman also cites many papers and articles relevant to these possible actions. Quinn offers an alternative to Grimmelman's systematic approach, describing the "ethos" that is created through community and moderation by a few. In ongoing work, Matias is researching the work of Reddit's moderators.
- Grimmelmann, James 2015 The Virtues of Moderation. SSRN Scholarly Paper, ID 2588493. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
- Warnick, Quinn 2010 "The four paradoxes of Metafilter" in What We Talk about When We Talk about Talking: Ethos at Work in an Online Community. Graduate Theses and Dissertations.
- Matias, J. Nathan 2015 Recognizing the Work of Reddit's Moderators (work in progress). Microsoft Research Social Media Collective.
- Is asking volunteers to moderate online conversation asking them to do free work? Postigo's paper offers an overview of AOL's community leaders and the Department of Labor investigation into the work of moderators in the early 2000s.
- Postigo, H. 2009 America Online Volunteers: Lessons from an Early Co-Production Community. International Journal of Cultural Studies 12(5): 451–469.
- Is Self-Governance Democratic? Shaw and HIll's quantitative research across 683 different wikis shows that "peer production entails oligarchic organizational forms," in line with a trend for large democracies to become oligrachic. This issue is taken up in Nathaniel Tkacz's book, where he outlines the kinds of contention that occur in "open organizations," a book that is as much about the idea of Wikipedia as the way Wikipedia actually works.
- Shaw, Aaron, and Benjamin M. Hill 2014 Laboratories of Oligarchy? How the Iron Law Extends to Peer Production. Journal of Communication 64(2): 215–238.
- Tkacz, Nathaniel 2014 Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness. Chicago ; London: University Of Chicago Press.
- Why do people do volunteer moderation? In behavioural economics experiments, Hergueaux finds that Wikipedia's administrators are most motivated by social image rather than reciprocity or altruism. Butler, Sproul, Kiesler, and Kraut offer survey results showing a diversity of formal and informal community work in online groups, and that people's participation can be related to how well they know other community members.
- Hergueux, Jérôme, Yann Algan, Yochai Benkler, and Mayo Fuster Morell 2013 Cooperation in a Peer-Production Economy Experimental Evidence from Wikipedia. In 12th Journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet.
- Butler, Brian, Lee Sproull, Sara Kiesler, and Robert Kraut 2002 Community Effort in Online Groups: Who Does the Work and Why. Leadership at a Distance: Research in Technologically Supported Work: 171–194.