Publication details

Engineering anonymity to reduce aggression online



Year of publication 2011
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference IADIS International Conference - Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction 2011
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Informatics

Field Informatics
Keywords Software; design; anonymity; aggression; pseudonymity; interaction
Description The effects of anonymity on aggression have been discussed by many social scientists in the past years. Anonymity is a factor that could lead to disinhibited behavior which could damage many online communities. This knowledge provides software engineers with a dilemma as to whether to use anonymity as an option for their users and suffer the increased aggression that their community might exhibit or exclude it all together. In order to cope with the increased aggression that might occur due to the presence of anonymity, most of the developers employ moderators to do policing work. This paper argues that there is a gap in the knowledge that we have about anonymity and aggression. Anonymity is a generic term and should be analyzed further into different states such as pseudonymity and complete anonymity. There is no knowledge covering the effects of these two different states of anonymity in the interactions of users in relevance to aggression. This paper shows that according to previous work there is enough evidence to support that there may be a difference. If this is true, software engineers might have another option for decreasing aggression by altering the design, instead of moderating their communities.

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