AAAI Publications, Tenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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Changing Names in Online News Comments at the New York Times
Simranjit Singh Sachar, Nicholas Diakopoulos

Last modified: 2016-03-31


Online news comments are often confronted with issues of civility and inclusivity, which are sometimes pegged to the anonymity afforded to contributors in those spaces. In this work we study one form of anonymity in online comments that manifests as users changing their display name when they write a given comment. We undertake a predominantly quantitative analysis of how display names are changed across over 4 million comments on the New York Times site. We characterize the extent and nature of name changes on the site, explore the relationship of name changes to topicality and sentiment, and examine how name changes might be used to inform the moderation of online comments.

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