Sign In

Ranking News Comments by Constructiveness, Curiosity, and Personal Stories Significantly Impacts Perceived Respect, Trustworthiness, and Interest

Core Concepts
Ranking news comments by constructiveness, curiosity, and personal stories can significantly improve perceptions of respect, trustworthiness, and interest in the comment section, with effects varying by article context.
The study investigated the impact of re-ranking news comments by three prosocial attributes - constructiveness, curiosity, and personal stories - on readers' perceptions of the comment section. For the politics article, the constructiveness and curiosity ranking conditions led to significantly lower perceived hostility, higher perceived respect, trustworthiness, informativeness, and interestingness compared to the control condition. The constructiveness condition also increased perceptions of Republican favorability, with no condition worsening perceptions of partisans. In the dining article, the constructiveness and personal stories conditions significantly improved the perceived informativeness of the comments, but the ranking types did not lead to significant differences in the other outcomes measured. The findings suggest that incorporating prosocial qualities of speech into ranking can be a promising approach to promote healthier, less polarized dialogue in online comment sections, though the specific effects depend on the article context. Factors like comment length and the suitability of different prosocial attributes for functional versus sensemaking contexts also emerged as important considerations.
"That the criticism piece includes refer 'both-sider-ism' is standable..." "In these survey Democrats asked w mean by 'Republican'?" "Four years ago I w ing dinner at the ho lifelong friend, a con man..."
"Immediately the longer ones [in constructiveness] are kind of a turnoff for me." "[The curious and constructive] comments are valuable in terms of understanding where people are coming from."

Deeper Inquiries

How might the effects of prosocial ranking differ for users with varying political affiliations or commenting habits?

Prosocial ranking effects could vary based on users' political affiliations or commenting habits. Users with different political affiliations may perceive and engage with comments differently based on their ideological leanings. For example, a comment ranked high in constructiveness might be well-received by users who value logical reasoning and evidence, while users who prioritize personal stories might engage more with comments that share relatable experiences. Additionally, users with varying commenting habits, such as frequency of engagement or tone of comments, may react differently to prosocially ranked comments. Those who frequently engage in discussions might appreciate constructiveness and curiosity, as it encourages meaningful dialogue. On the other hand, users who tend to leave short, direct comments might find personal stories more engaging and relatable.

How could prosocial ranking be combined with other platform features, such as user controls or engagement signals, to further promote healthy online dialogue?

To enhance the promotion of healthy online dialogue, prosocial ranking could be integrated with other platform features. User controls could allow individuals to filter comments based on prosocial attributes like constructiveness, curiosity, and personal stories. This empowers users to customize their comment section experience based on their preferences for engaging content. Engagement signals, such as likes or upvotes, could complement prosocial ranking by highlighting comments that receive positive feedback from the community. Comments ranked high in prosocial attributes could be given more visibility through these signals, encouraging users to engage with constructive and curious comments. Moreover, combining prosocial ranking with features like real-time moderation tools or community guidelines could further foster a respectful and inclusive online environment. By reinforcing positive behaviors and discouraging toxic interactions, platforms can create a more conducive space for healthy dialogue.

What other prosocial attributes beyond constructiveness, curiosity, and personal stories could be explored, and how might they interact with article context?

Beyond constructiveness, curiosity, and personal stories, other prosocial attributes that could be explored include empathy, humility, and inclusivity. Empathetic comments that demonstrate understanding and compassion towards others can enhance emotional connections and promote empathy among users. Humility in comments, such as acknowledging different perspectives or admitting limitations, can foster open-mindedness and mutual respect. Inclusivity, reflected in comments that welcome diverse viewpoints and promote a sense of belonging, can create a more welcoming and tolerant online community. These attributes, when combined with constructiveness, curiosity, and personal stories, can enrich the depth and breadth of discussions in article context. For instance, a comment that combines empathy with constructiveness can offer a supportive and insightful perspective on a sensitive topic, enhancing the overall quality of the conversation.