Haters Gonna Hate? How Removing Downvote Option Impacts Discussions on Online Forum

40 Pages Posted: 5 May 2021 Last revised: 18 Apr 2022

See all articles by Changseung (Chang) Yoo

Changseung (Chang) Yoo

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management

Warut Khern-am-nuai

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management

Jitsama Tanlamai

HEC Montreal - Department of Logistics and Operations Management

Yossiri Adulyasak

HEC Montréal

Date Written: April 15, 2022

Abstract

Social technologies have brought enormous changes to how consumers interact with businesses as well as how individuals interact with one another. A key component of social technologies is peer evaluation where feedback for user-generated content is provided through dynamic social interactions. Several social media platforms have experimented with different versions of peer evaluation systems in recent years. A natural question that arises is how the design of a peer evaluation system affects user behavior and engagement which ultimately has substantial implications for the long-term sustainability of platform operations. In this study, we examine the effect of removing the downvote option on users' content-generating behaviors using data collected from a popular North American online discussion forum. Platform-level analyses reveal that after the removal of this option, users became more active on the platform in both creating new content and posting replies. Moreover, while the average sentiment of the replies did not show a significant change, the average toxicity of the replies decreased significantly. More granular analysis of replies' topics shows that the topic distribution of the replies became more diverse and that users posted replies that were richer in information content after the policy change. Overall, the platform-level analysis results suggest that removing the downvote option had a positive impact on the platform's discussion culture. Through user-level analyses, we further establish that the effect of the policy change was stronger on newer users, and that heavy users became more toxic than light users after the policy change. Actively managing toxic behaviors as opposed to relying solely on the current reporting system may further improve the platform's discussion environment.

Keywords: Online platform, peer evaluation, negative evaluation, user-generated content

Suggested Citation

Yoo, Changseung (Chang) and Khern-am-nuai, Warut and Tanlamai, Jitsama and Adulyasak, Yossiri, Haters Gonna Hate? How Removing Downvote Option Impacts Discussions on Online Forum (April 15, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3838762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3838762

Changseung (Chang) Yoo

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Warut Khern-am-nuai (Contact Author)

McGill University - Desautels Faculty of Management ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal, Quebec H3A1G5 H3A 2M1
Canada

Jitsama Tanlamai

HEC Montreal - Department of Logistics and Operations Management ( email )

3000, chemin de la Côte-Ste-Catherine
Montreal, Quebec H3T 2A7
Canada

Yossiri Adulyasak

HEC Montréal ( email )

3000, Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine
Montreal, Quebec H2X 2L3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://yossiri.info/

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