A new article by Florian Toepfl and Anna Litvinenko is forthcoming in the journal New Media & Society. It is entitled "Transferring control from the backend to the frontend: A comparison of the discourse architectures of comment sections on news websites across the post-Soviet world". Its abstract reads as follows:
This study compares how comment sections were implemented, as of summer 2016, on the 179 leading national news websites across the 15 post-Soviet countries. In order to pursue this aim, a novel coding scheme is developed that facilitates assessment of the degree to which the discourse architectures of comment sections transfer control over the content published from the backend to the frontend of a website. Accordingly, each comment section is assigned a value on a ‘control transfer index’ (CTI). The study identifies the level of press freedom/democracy of a country as the only significant predictor for whether, and how openly, comment sections were implemented. The popularity of comment sections and their CTIs decreased with the openness of a regime. However, even in the most closed regimes, comment sections were still a relatively commonly observed phenomenon. We interpret this latter finding by drawing on theories of citizen participation under authoritarian rule.
The accepted version of the manuscript is available here.