Conflict, Gender and Identity in Online Communities

I’ve long been fascinated by the way that different online communities each have their distinct ‘personalities’ and ways of behaving. Often the community’s identity is heavily imprinted by its founders or leaders, but ACT-KM has interested me because its moderators are almost anonymous, leading contributors come and go, and yet the “personality” of the community is very consistent over time. Nowhere is this most evident in the way that it manages conflicts, often with minimal intervention by moderators. Some time ago I analysed an extended flame that took place in late 2003 between Dave Snowden, Joseph Firestone and Mark McElroy, and I’ve been meaning to write it up properly. Now, thanks to Hong Kong Polytechnic University making me write a module for them, here it is.

Here’s a chart showing the progress of the 2003 flame which suggests some of the main questions in my paper: the relationship between gender and participation behaviours, self-moderation activity, and conflict as an identity building social device. Read the article for more!


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