Contexts of uninhibited online behavior: Flaming in social newsgroups on usenet



Recent research on uninhibited behavior in computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems have suggested that flaming is social-context dependent and not a media characteristic of CMC. This study takes a closer look at the social context in which flaming occurs, which need not necessarily be developed online but, as well, can be the social, religious, and political background and affiliations of the participants. The study analyzed messages posted during 1 week to 4 Usenet social newsgroups that represent different national and cultural groups. The levels of flaming in these groups were found to be higher than any reported in other studies. The findings show that the frequency of flaming differed between the newsgroups, and differed within newsgroups according to the general topic under discussion, confirming that social context and not the medium is the primary determinant of online uninhibited behavior. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.