Design Matters! An Empirical Analysis of Online Deliberation on Different News Platforms
Work data:ISSN: 1944-2866
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:e-Democracy | Participation
Ever since the Internet has provided easy access to online discussion, advocates of deliberative democracy have hoped for an improved public sphere. This article investigates which particular platform features promote deliberative debate online. We assume that moderation, asynchronous discussion, a well‐defined topic, and the availability of information enhance the level of deliberative quality of user comments. A comparison between different types of news platforms that differ in terms of design (a news forum, news websites, and Facebook news pages) shows that deliberation (measured as rationality, reciprocity, respect, and constructiveness) differs significantly between platforms. We find that the news forum yields the most rational and respectful debate. While user comments on news websites are only slightly less deliberative, Facebook comments perform poorly in terms of deliberative quality. However, comments left on news websites and on Facebook show particularly high levels of reciprocity among users.