Title page for ETD etd-07082004-110035

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Goudelocke, Ryan
URN etd-07082004-110035
Title Credibility and Authority on Internet Message-Boards
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David Kurpius Committee Chair
Emily Erickson Committee Member
John M. Hamilton Committee Member
  • message-boards
  • online communities
  • credibility
  • authority
  • tokens
  • cmc
  • computer-mediated communication
Date of Defense 2004-06-25
Availability unrestricted
This research aimed to provide some proof or refutation of the hypothesis that online communities develop specialized vocabularies, often technical jargon, and use elements of those vocabularies, here labeled “tokens,” to ascribe credibility and/or authority to other posters. The literature from a variety of communications fields relating to this topic was summarized as a progression from an early “limitations” model of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to a later “opportunities” model. The drawbacks of current research were outlined and some new paths were sketched, including the methodology employed here.

Several discussions from different Web sites, each containing hundreds of posts, were tabulated and analyzed for the effects of inclusion of anecdotally-chosen “token” posts. Gauging authority and credibility as attention paid token posts and positive reaction to token posts, respectively, no correlation was found between token posts and attention paid them. One of three discussions showed a strong correlation between token posts and positive reaction, while two other discussions analyzed yielded results short of statistical significance. Suggestions were made regarding further work in this expanding field.

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