Rating Effects on Social News Posts and Comments

Maria Glenski and Tim Weninger
ACM Trans. Intelligent Systems and Tech., 2017
Publication Date: 
August, 2017

At a time when information seekers first turn to digital sources for news and opinion, it is critical that we understand the role that social media plays in human behavior. This is especially true when information consumers also act as information producers and editors through their online activity. In order to better understand the effects that editorial ratings have on online human behavior, we report the results of a two large-scale in vivo experiments in social media. We find that small, random rating manipulations on social media posts and comments created significant changes in downstream ratings, resulting in significantly different final outcomes. We found positive herding effects for positive treatments on posts, increasing the final rating by 11.02% on average, but not for positive treatments on comments. Contrary to the results of related work, we found negative herding effects for negative treatments on posts and comments, decreasing the final ratings, on average, of posts by 5.15% and of comments by 37.4%. Compared to the control group, the probability of reaching a high rating ( ⩾ 2,000) for posts is increased by 24.6% when posts receive the positive treatment and for comments it is decreased by 46.6% when comments receive the negative treatment.