First Advisor

Robert Gould

Term of Graduation

Fall 2006

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Conflict Resolution


Conflict Resolution




Telematics, Conflict management, Electronic discussion groups, Internet, Daily kos



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 73 pages)


The increasing popularity of the social web and online communities requires the attention of researchers of conflict resolution. Although there are many ways to resolve conflict offline, the ways in which conflict takes place within a native online context have not been much studied. Are any of the tools and strategies that are used to improve communication offline used successfully online, or are some other strategies taking their place? What communication patterns occur within an online community equipped with comment moderation capabilities? This research is a case study and addressed these questions by performing a qualitative analysis of comment conversations within two diaries that discussed a conflict event known as the Pie Fight within the Daily Kos community in June, 2005.

The findings of this research are organized into three sections, which discuss behaviors related to Communication Style, Conflict Minimization or Avoidance, and community members' response to Comment Moderation (Ratings). Novel communication style behaviors which were noted included the use of cut-and-paste "paraphrasing" which was used to escalate conflict rather than resolving it, medium blaming when the writer's own words were quite obviously provocative, and extended leave-taking as a means of maintaining relationships before departing from the community. Conflict minimization or avoidance behaviors included the assumption that removal of discussion about the conflict by deleting an entire diary and comments threads would somehow resolve the disagreements included in them it, the use of benign verbal aggression which seemed to bring some segments of the community together, and the temporary or permanent departure from the community by members who took part in the conflict discussion. Ratings moderation created another point of conflict when negative ratings were threatened, although negative ratings were used mainly to address unproductive language rather than punish differences of opinion. The use of positive ratings to offer silent support or appreciation to members whose reasoned comments received a dismissive response was also observed. These findings could be used in future research about the suitability of online communities as sites of deliberative discussion.


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