Conflict and Intolerance in a Web Community: Effects of a System Integrating Dialogues and Monologues



The Spiritual Navigator website offers a bulletin board system (BBS) for dialogues, weblogs for individual monologues, and a psychological test so the user can determine his/her own mental state. The results of covariance structure analyses, where questions in the psychological test are the independent variable and the number of postings to the BBS/weblog is the dependent variable, suggest that motivations for BBS interaction and for blogging are quite different. The less tolerant a user is of different views, the more often that user posts to the BBS. Some users who initially post actively to the BBS stop posting there (e.g., in response to criticism) but continue to post to their own weblogs (including their responses to criticism). Given this situation, it is suggested that a system such as the Spiritual Navigator that combines online dialogue and monologue, and that is designed to balance conflicts with stability, could bring about the observance of face-saving ritual (in Goffman’s term) or Habermas-like discourse ethics in the public sphere on the Internet.