Title: Enforcing community guidelines in web-based communities: the case of flame comments on YouTube

Authors: Michael Nycyk

Addresses: Department of Internet Studies, Curtin University, Kent St., Bentley, WA., Australia

Abstract: Web-based communities face increasing pressures from governments and the public to enforce community guidelines that discourage and prevent negative member behaviours. This study explores the behaviour of flaming and the tensions the language of flaming causes in a community. Flames are hostile, profane and intimidating comments that can disrupt participation in a community. Using YouTube as a case study, a grounded theory exploratory study was undertaken to examine the characteristics of flame comments that clash with YouTube's community guidelines, particularly those aimed at preventing hateful speech against groups in society. A theory, represented by the term 'acceptability of language use', emerged from the analysis to describe the tension YouTube faces in enforcing a civil community and preventing hate speech. Although the study raises more questions than it answers, it illuminates the debate regarding what boundaries web community owners and members will tolerate.

Keywords: community guidelines; flaming; grounded theory; language use; online behaviours; online communities; YouTube; web based communities; virtual communities; flame comments; profane comments; intimidating comments; hostile comments; hate speech.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2016.077254

International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2016 Vol.12 No.2, pp.131 - 146

Received: 29 Dec 2014
Accepted: 30 Sep 2015

Published online: 24 Jun 2016 *

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