PhD Candidiate, UPenn

Do Not Overrate the Internet Speech: An Empirical Analysis of 122 Threads on Online Forums


Based on the analysis of 122 threads on 4 representative online forums in 8 weeks’ time, this paper summarizes the following characteristics of Internet speech. (1) The topics are widely scattered; a very few of them can stand out from the numerous threads. (2) Emotional expressions are far more than rational analysis, but some discussions are becoming more rational after some emotional expression. (3) Discussions can continue for some time but most of them cannot be deepened — they either become stagnant or the focusing points have been shifted. A small number of them turn to the reflection on certain social phenomenon, though the initial posts are about some specific events.

Due to these characteristics, one should not overrate the representativeness and social impact of Internet speech. However, there are topics which attract a huge amount of discussions and are rationally analyzed by the netizens. They may generate more and longer-lasting influence on society. More attention should be paid to these topics, though there are not many of them.

This paper (in Chinese) was written by Wang Chenyao and Fang Kecheng, it was published in Journal of International Communication (Chinese), 2009(5): 98-102. You can download it here.