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A prompt telling users that trolls may be there, but they are uncommon.

Tested

Stop Hate & Bullying

Message that trolls are present but outnumbered

Make new users more comfortable in community and more resilient to trolling

Overview

What It Is

This simple intervention is a message for new users of a platform or new members of an online community.

It has three key elements:

  1. A link to what is considered trolling in the community or platform
  2. A warning that users will sometimes see trolling, but that non-trolls outnumber the trolls
  3. Instructions for how to handle trolls

What It Does

This intervention has been shown to:

  1. Increase retention of users who join the community in good faith.
  2. Those users know beforehand that trolls are present, and they therefore have the tools to deal with them, and are less likely to be scared away from the platform by harassment.
  3. Increase proportion of good-faith users to those who join as provocateurs, &c.

Where this intervention was used, the increase in retention was limited to those who actively identified with the mission of the community.

Retention did not increase among those revealed not to be joining in good faith.

When To Use It

This can appear as an automated comment to a new user's post, as an automated personal message, or as an interstitial upon entry.

How We Know It Works

Researchers at Cornell's Citizen and Technology Lab conducted a two-year project with r/feminism on Reddit to test an idea for reducing harassment.

They found that "messages explaining that harassers were a minority increased newcomer comments by 20% on average, an effect that persisted across the full 10 weeks we collected data (n=1,300; p=0.002)."

Why It Matters

This intervention could be useful for reassuring and empowering marginalized voices who would otherwise be silenced by hostility.

This could also help with polarization as it helps newcomers and outsiders to an online community more accurately see hostile users as the minority they are, rather than seeing them as representative of the entire community and treating that community accordingly.

Examples

Screenshot of welcome message from r/feminism

This entry is currently being researched & evaluated!

You could help us improve this entry by contributing facts, media, screenshots, and other evidence of its existence in the wild.
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Our Confidence Rating

Convincing

We reserve this rating for interventions that have been rigorously tested in a form that is subject to independent formal peer review, or has been replicated independently.

In The Wild

This intervention has precedence, and exists, or has at one time or another, existed in the wild.

Citations

Peer Reviewed

Interventional

Altmetric score

April 29, 2019

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

J. Nathan Matias

Link or Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1813486116

STUDY DESIGN

Interventional

Interventional studies cover experiments and quasi-experiments. In experiments, individuals meeting eligibility requirements are randomly assigned into an experimental group or a control group. The experimental intervention (protocol, method or treatment) and its alternative(s) are clearly defined and their implementation is closely managed by the researcher. Quasi-experimental studies are empirical studies in which subjects are assigned an intervention, by a non-random method. The researcher may define and manage the alternatives, which could be treatment and control, or two or more different interventions.

Illustration elements by Matt Wasser, GB

There's more to learn about this intervention. Want to help?

Do you think this intervention could have more benefits, unacknowledged drawbacks, or other inaccuracies that we've neglected to mention here?

We always welcome more evidence and rigorous research to back up, debunk, or augment what we know.

If you want to be a part of that effort, we'd love to have your help!

Email us

Further Reading

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