A pop up displaying a list of rules.

Persistent Reminder of Norms

Increase adherence to platform rules.

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What It Is

There exist two versions of this intervention which differ by their deployment time. One version, the pre-posting intervention, is used before users post a piece of content in a form that allows replies from the community. It contains a message at the top of the comment forum that includes:

  • a welcome
  • a reminder of the community rules (with a link to the full set if they are long)
  • a mention of how and by whom those rules will be enforced.

The other version, the post-posting intervention, is deployed after users had their content removed because of it breaking the community rules. It is a sticky post on the user’s feed side explaining the specific rule that lead to the removal.

When To Use It

What Is Its Intended Impact

With the pre-posting intervention, new users’ comments are more likely to follow the stated norms of the platform or community. While not directly studied, it is reasonable to assume the returning users are more likely to as well.

Interestingly, new users who see this are also more likely to post in general, possibly because they are more confident in their ability to say something that adheres to group/platform norms or because they are more confident their comments will not elicit abuse.

The post-posting intervention increases rule-breakers’ adherence to the forum rules for the next content posts they contributed to the forum.

How We Know It Works

How We Know It Might Work

Pre-posting intervention

J. Nathan Matias published a study in 2019 that ran a large-scale field experiment on the Reddit sub (community) r/science, in which randomly assigned posts were given an intervention like the one described here. Posts that did receive the intervention were:

  • 8% more likely to have have comments from new users follow the community’s rules
  • 70% more likely to have new users comment on the thread

It’s worth noting that the community rules for r/science were unusually strict (for example, during the course of the study, no personal anecdotes were allowed) and deviation from them by newcomers was previously unusually high.

Post-posting intervention

Tyler et al. (2021) run a large-scale field experiment on Facebook. They showed that transparency about the rules, in form of a sticky note in the feed, after users had their content removed increased their adherence to rules.

Specifically this intervention:

  • Decreased recidivism to unwanted content
  • Decreased the submitted appeals against the removal
  • Increased the overturn rate of appeals submitted
  • Increased the transparency users reported regarding the removal process

Why It Matters

Special Considerations

In Matias et al.’s (2019) study the fact that the increase in new users posting is larger than the increase in rule-abiding by new users may paradoxically create a higher overall number of non-rule abiding posts (and therefore a higher workload for moderators).

Further studies could be warranted to disaggregate which parts of this intervention are most effective in producing better norm-adherence or (if desired) increased participation of new users.

Tyler et al.’s (2021) study focused on specific content removal transparency (i.e., content removal due to nudity). Further research would need to generalize the intervention's effect to other topics of removal in online forums.

Examples

This intervention entry currently lacks photographic evidence (screencaps, &c.)

Citations

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A

Preventing harassment and increasing group participation through social norms in 2,190 online science discussions.

J. Nathan Matias
April 29, 2019
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1813486116
Journal of Experimental Criminology

Social media governance: can social media companies motivate voluntary rule following behavior among their users?

Tom Tyler, Matt Katsaros, Tracey Meares & Sudhir Venkatesh
December 27, 2019
DOI:
10.1007/s11292-019-09392-z

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