Session Submission Summary

Direct link:

Preconference: Comments, Anyone? Multidisciplinary Approaches for Analyzing Online User Comments Across News and Other Content Formats

Thu, May 25, 9:00 to 16:30, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 4, Sapphire 400B

Session Submission Type: Panel


Studies of the user comments 'below the line' on websites and social media sites of news organizations, companies, and other public figures/institutions continue to grow, though these studies are scattered across various disciplines. One reason for this situation is that comments are analyzed using different theoretical and empirical approaches. First, user comments are of interest to journalism and public relation scholars because they affect professional work routines and induce a change in the relationships between professional mass communicators and audiences. Second, because user comments often have persuasive intent and potentially reach the same audience as the (news) content to which they are attached, comments are researched by mass communication and media effect scholars in diverse contexts (e.g., perceptions of public opinion, persuasion research, and health communication). Third, scholars studying political communication investigate the quality of user-generated public discussions and analyze comments through the lens of normative theories. Fourth, scholars in cultural studies and discourse analysts are interested in how commenters appropriate news and other content formats as well as how they use language to construct subjective social realities, to disclose their identities and values, and to engage in discussions with others. Fifth, computer scientists develop new methods of collecting and automatically analyzing large datasets of user comments.

This list could easily be continued, but it already illustrates that user comments are researched by scholars from numerous disciplines. The results of these various research efforts are, however, mainly communicated and recognized within the boundaries of the specific disciplines. Moreover, the validity of research on user comments is often limited to single countries and specific cultures. The preconference therefore aims at synthesizing multidisciplinary and international research on online user comments. Scholars from various disciplines are invited to present and discuss their current work on user comments with a focus on how this research can cross the boundaries of single research divisions. Additionally, the preconference will host two workshops with a focus on 'meta issues' in user comment research, such as new theoretical approaches, methodological obstacles, and lessons to be learned from comparative investigations.
The preconference will take place on 25 May 2017 (9am to 5.30pm) in the ICA conference hotel (Hilton San Diego Bayfront). The preconference fee will be $50 and includes coffee breaks. We expect 20 to 50 participants. Please find the Call for Papers online:

Sub Unit