Dogpile on the rabbit

Apropos of the recent threads on journals, there is an interesting paper by Eric Gilbert and colleagues that I posted on over at Choice and Inference.

Many have conjectured that blogs are echo chambers in which communities insulate themselves from dissenting opinion. Gilbert et. al. devised an empirical study of blog comments to see whether there was evidence for the hypothesis. (There was.)

This isn’t to take away the points raised in those threads, or other discussions which elicit strong opinions, but it does raise a question about whether the degree of agreement or strength of the signal is accurate. It is an interesting paper, which should open an interesting line of research.


Comments

Dogpile on the rabbit — 7 Comments

  1. Many have conjectured that blogs are echo chambers in which communities insulate themselves from dissenting opinion. Gilbert et. al. devised an empirical study of blog comments to see whether there was evidence for the hypothesis. (There was.)

    No there wasn’t …

  2. According to Gilbert et. al’s definition of an echo chamber, i.e., a ratio of agreement to disagreement which exceeds 64% in blog comments, the rate of agreement in their sample of top blogs exceeded this threshold. That’s the evidence I am referring to.

    The evidence is not decisive, and Gilbert et. al. would be the first to point this out. (Indeed, they do in the paper.) But, as far as I know, it is the first empirical study of its kind and it is a reasonable starting point.

  3. But, as far as I know, it is the first empirical study of its kind and it is a reasonable starting point.

    No it isn’t …

    [okay, this time let me add that I’m just doing my part to keep CD’s future “echo chamber” rating down!] 😉

  4. It would be interesting to see if results were sizably different for those blogs that had trackbacks and those that didn’t. One would think that there would be a “home turf” effect, where folks defer more readily to the opinions of the blog moderators in the comments section, but are less deferent when scribbling on their own blog.

  5. The authors looked at comments from Technorati’s list of top blogs, and they conjecture that their findings for this sample represents a conservative estimate of the effect for all blogs. It doesn’t look like they controlled for trackbacks, so that would be an interesting hypothesis to check. (See the methods section in their paper here, for details.)

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