Impoliteness across social media platforms
A comparative study of conflict on YouTube and Reddit
This paper responds to the call for more comparative research across online social media platforms (Graham and Hardaker 2017, 808) and examines discourse across two such platforms, YouTube and Reddit. More specifically, it attempts to investigate whether the affordances of these platforms have an impact on the amount and form of impoliteness employed by their users.Data on a highly contested topic (the July 2018 wildfires in Attica, Greece) is studied both qualitatively and quantitatively. First, small but representative samples are qualitatively analyzed on the basis of the two major impoliteness types: implicational and conventionalized and their subcategories. In addition, swearword keywords extracted by means of corpus analysis tools are analyzed. It is shown that YouTube involves a great deal of (conventionalized) impoliteness (Culpeper 2011a) which could be due to factors such as the total absence of moderation, of post length limit and of detailed personal profiles as well as the presence of videos as stimuli for interaction. Considerably less impoliteness appears on Reddit, whose forum-like nature makes it a place that mostly invites civil interaction. Implicationally impolite (Culpeper 2011a) posts outnumber conventionally impolite ones, perhaps owing to the heavy moderation, the existence of public profiles and the size and coherence of the user community. It is concluded that, due to their characteristics, platforms seem to attract a certain userbase with its own motives and mindset, which in turn shape the impoliteness found within them.
Keywords: Social media platforms, YouTube, Reddit, online discourse, impoliteness, irony
Published online: 25 May 2021
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