First Advisor

Sy Adler

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies




Blogs -- Political aspects -- United States, Deliberative democracy -- United States, Electronic discussion groups -- United States, Internet -- Political aspects -- United States, Cyberspace -- United States -- Social aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, xiii, 157 pages)


Concerns about the feasibility of the Internet as an appropriate venue for deliberation have emerged based on the adverse effects of depersonalization, anonymity, and lack of accountability on the part of online discussants. As in face-to-face communication, participants in online conversations are best situated to determine for themselves what type of communication is appropriate. Earlier research on Usenet groups was not optimistic, but community-administered moderation may provide a valuable tool for online political discussion groups who wish to support and enforce deliberative communication among a diverse or disagreeing membership.

This research examines individual comments and their rating and moderation within a week-long "Pie Fight" discussion about community ownership and values in the Daily Kos political blog. Specific components of deliberation were identified and a content analysis was conducted for each. Salient issues included community reputation, agreement and disagreement, meta-communication, and appropriate expression of emotion, humor, and profanity. Data subsets were analyzed in conjunction with the comment ratings given by community members to determine what types of interaction received the most attention, and how the community used the comment ratings system to promote or demote specific comment types. The use of middle versus high or low ratings, the value of varied ratings format, and the use of moderation as a low-impact means of expressing dissent were also explored.

The Daily Kos community members effectively used both comments and ratings to mediate conflict, assert their desired kind of community, demonstrate a deliberative self-concept, and support specific conditions of deliberation. The moderation system was used to sanction uncivil or unproductive communication, as intended, and was also shown to facilitate deliberation of disagreement rather than creating an echo chamber of opinion.


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