Helpful or Harmful? Negative Behavior Toward Newcomers and Welfare in Online Communities - HEC Paris - École des hautes études commerciales de Paris Access content directly
Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2021

Helpful or Harmful? Negative Behavior Toward Newcomers and Welfare in Online Communities

Abstract

Newcomers are important for the survival of online communities, but their contributions often receive negative reactions and comments from established members. Online communities realize that such negativity can take a toll on newcomers and harm the creation of user-generated content. We study a novel intervention aimed at reducing hostility toward newcomers: a “newcomer nudge” that informs community members when they are interacting with a newcomer’s post and asks them to be more lenient toward its creator. Taking advantage of granular data from a large deal-sharing community and a natural experiment, we use a difference-in-differences approach and find robust evidence that the newcomer nudge induced members to write 46% more responses per day with 10% fewer negative words during the first two days after a deal was published. Our results show that the nudge-induced change in behavior toward newcomers increased newcomer retention. However, we also observe that before the nudge, newcomers’ second posts received more net votes (upvotes minus downvotes) than their first posts. After the nudge, newcomers’ subsequent posts were less popular than their first posts, which indicates that the nudge interrupted newcomers’ learning curve by suppressing helpful feedback.
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Dates and versions

hal-03501749 , version 1 (23-12-2021)

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Florian Pethig, Hartmut Hoehle, Kai-Lung Hui, Andreas Lanz. Helpful or Harmful? Negative Behavior Toward Newcomers and Welfare in Online Communities. 2021. ⟨hal-03501749⟩

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