File this under ‘no shit Sherlock’ but a ReadWriteWeb has a story about a study into what makes people comment on the internet. Apparently…
people who comment online are often motivated by emotions, and negative emotions at that. Furthermore, the longer online discussions last, the more likely they are to turn increasingly negative, and in doing so, these negative discussion dissolve into a back-and-forth sustained by fewer and fewer commenters.
I think this is about as surprising as some of the Wikileaks ‘revelations’ but it is interesting to see that a formal academic study supports what we all experience although it stops short of actually stating Godwin’s Law.Â Mind you, Polish academics are probably less flippant about NAzis that we are.
The scary thing is that the study was based on data from BBC message boards which, while not famous for being a nutter-free zone, are not the worst places on the web by a long way.Â Imagine if they had included, say, the Daily Mail online comments as well.
Next time you are using a forum or message board bear in mind these comments from the researchers…
The active users are those characterized with negative emotions and they seem to be the key agents that sustain discussion in the thread. Finally, we have shown that negative emotions accelerate user’s local activity in the thread
…and wonder whether having a high post count against a user is really something the more active members should be boasting about.