I'm studying you. Is this ok?

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bariboh
I'm studying you. Is this ok?

Hello!

I am a third-year undergraduate student of public policy at Carleton University. As a term paper for my policy research class, I am conducting a content analysis of six Canadian political message boards, including this one.

A content analysis is a systematic assessment of the form and substance of a medium of communication. Ethical considerations play a very minor role in this type of research because researchers can imply consent from the fact that the material they are examining has been published. Also, there is no direct contact with the researcher and the authors of the content, so nothing that the researcher does can severely impact the authors' well-being. University ethics codes contain rules that reflect these assumptions, and they consider anything that is freely available on the internet to be "published material". For this reason, I began my study without asking for your consent.

My research looked only at messages that related to Afghanistan and were posted in September 2006 or December 2008. I looked for differing opinions about Canada's mission, how these were articulated, how the debate progressed, and how the medium of communication affects the conversation.

Over the course of my research, I got the feeling that I was eavesdropping. I learned in class to trust my intuition when it comes to ethics; uncomfortable feelings are often an indication of ethical issues that need to be discussed.

This message is a part of what sociologists call "debriefing". Once the observation phase of a study is complete, researchers conduct interviews with their subjects in order to better understand how the research affects the subjects personally. This helps to clarify ethical questions for future research.

I want to know what you think about my study, especially in regard to the following questions:

1) Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation?
2) Do you feel that I violated your privacy in reading and/or studying your posts?
3) Should I have asked for permission first?
4) Would it violate your privacy if I quoted your post in my paper?
5) Would it violate your privacy if I referred to your username in my paper?
6) Would your opinion be different if my paper were to be published? (It won't.)
7) Would your opinion be different if I were working for the government? (I'm not.)

Feel free to offer anything that you think will help me with these ethical questions, and my research in general. I am also curious about who you all are in real life (e.g. age, occupation, etc.), though I understand if you want to preserve your anonymity. I will check back in a couple of days to address any concerns you might have. I am also happy to post the final version of my paper, once I am finished writing it.
Thank you!

Grégoire Baribeau
3rd Year Public Affairs and Policy Management
Specializing in International Studies
Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

 

Issues Pages: 
clersal

1) Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation?
2) Do you feel that I violated your privacy in reading and/or studying your posts?
3) Should I have asked for permission first?
4) Would it violate your privacy if I quoted your post in my paper?
5) Would it violate your privacy if I referred to your username in my paper?
6) Would your opinion be different if my paper were to be published? (It won't.)
7) Would your opinion be different if I were working for the government? (I'm not.)

1) Public

2)No
3)No
4)No
5)I think using x y or z might be better.
6)No
7)I hope not!

clersal

I did write the numbers under each other and Babble refused to put them there.

I guess the editing doesn't work either!

Slumberjack

There's only one of you conducting this research?  I would've thought any analysis of this board required at least a team of white coated researchers.

Sineed

What are the other 5 boards you are studying?

sock puppet

Quote:
Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation?

Neither, or both. It is a public conversation. As such, context is everything; sections taken out of context may be very misleading.

Michelle

I personally am okay with eveyrthing. 

It's interesting, isn't it, when you get involved in a discussion forum - sure, it's public, but you start to realize that there is a community that is happening, and a web of relationships that get formed, which are weaved throughout the conversations that happen here.  It's not just a letters to the editor section, it's a group of people who hang out in the same place at the same time and talk about everything, and share themselves personally to various degrees while doing so.

I was just talking to someone the other day about how, after 8 years here (our anniversary is coming up very soon!) many of us now recognize each other simply by our writing styles, the same way we might recognize each other on the street by looking at our faces or hearing our voices.

remind remind's picture

Well sineed, my best guess would be:

1. En masse

2. Maple Leaf

3. Freedominion

4. 50plus

5.  ? perhaps BnR

In response to the OP ?'s

1) Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation? Mixture as it is 2 questions

2) Do you feel that I violated your privacy in reading and/or studying your posts? Really 2 questions here again, eh?

3) Should I have asked for permission first? Yes

4) Would it violate your privacy if I quoted your post in my paper? Yes

5) Would it violate your privacy if I referred to your username in my paper? Yes

6) Would your opinion be different if my paper were to be published? (It won't.) No

7) Would your opinion be different if I were working for the government? (I'm not.) No

 

 

Pride for Red D...

I'm fine with it- but I just wanted to warn you that some people might be under dufferent names in deferent forums, so you moght get the same thing twice, if that affects your study. I'm Audrey on BNR and at en masse I think (post there little).

Tommy_Paine

 

I  don't think I participated often in the Afghanistan threads,  mostly because I have been, and continue to be of multiple minds on the subject.

However, for what it's worth:

1)  Very public.  I'd be dissapointed if half the intelligence agencies in the western world don't have a folder on me. Not because I'm dangerous, but as a measure of their paranoia.

2) You will know when you have violated my privacy when you have to schedule extra appointments with your analyst, and start carrying a teddy bear around with you for comfort.

3) No,  it's a public board. Did Jane Goodall ask for permission first?

4) I'd be flattered.  And, I'd want a piece of the action if any money was made with it.

5) -- See 4.

6)  Depends who's reading it... the opinion would remain the same. Delivery might be adjusted.

7)  No, but I'd be more vitriolic. Fucking government.

Let's see.  I work in the independant parts supplier aspect of the auto sector-- yeah.  I'm a collector's item these days, like a cod fisher.      I just turned 50 last week-- and nobody here said happy birfday, btw.    I tend to think I'm more than my occupation.  I might be dellusional, however.

 

 

Unionist

Happy birfday, btw, Tommy!

Tommy_Paine wrote:
I tend to think I'm more than my occupation.

Interesting. I've always thought (especially on bad days) that my occupation is more than me.

 

al-Qa'bong

Whatever I say here is public, and my view on your study is that you should consider us as as you would the Trobriand Islanders, as long as you tone down the chapter on mating rituals.

Tommy_Paine

Happy birfday, btw, Tommy!

Thanks. I didn't announce it.  Still trying to figure out if the big 5-0 is a milestone, or millstone.

Wilf Day

bariboh wrote:
1) Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation?
2) Do you feel that I violated your privacy in reading and/or studying your posts?
3) Should I have asked for permission first?
4) Would it violate your privacy if I quoted your post in my paper?
5) Would it violate your privacy if I referred to your username in my paper?
6) Would your opinion be different if my paper were to be published? (It won't.)
7) Would your opinion be different if I were working for the government? (I'm not.)

Feel free to offer anything that you think will help me with these ethical questions, and my research in general. I am also curious about who you all are in real life (e.g. age, occupation, etc.), though I understand if you want to preserve your anonymity.

Public, no, no, no, no, no, no.

If I wanted privacy I wouldn't post on a public board in my own name.

However, some posters may work for an employer that would disapprove of their posts. If you assemble enough of their posts to create identifying clues, you are within your legal rights but ethically a bit sneaky.

Quoting part of what anyone writes or says is always risky if they think you've taken it out of context, but everyone does this every day. It requires judgment. You can get sued for libel if you use a partial quote misleadingly and bring someone into public contempt, even though you didn't realize you had done this. Get someone to proof-read your work for possible libel before publishing it.

Aged 66, lawyer, resident of Port Hope Ontario for 40 years, delegate to the founding convention of the NDP in 1961 and still a member.

 

oldgoat

Personally I'm ok with everything that you're doing.  What you write on the internet is public.  Unless there's some compelling reason not to, I wouldn't mind seeing the results of your analysis.

 

I'm guessing as far as this board goes, as well as enmasse and B'nR if you've used them, the only difference between Sept /06 and Dec /08 would be the increase in "I told you so's", wherein on FD and the like, the rationalizations would merely become more strained.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Everything here is definitely public - for example, I googled something, and babble.ca came up in the search as one of the possibilities. That happens more often now.

Slumberjack

bariboh wrote:

1) Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation?
2) Do you feel that I violated your privacy in reading and/or studying your posts?
3) Should I have asked for permission first?
4) Would it violate your privacy if I quoted your post in my paper?
5) Would it violate your privacy if I referred to your username in my paper?
6) Would your opinion be different if my paper were to be published? (It won't.)
7) Would your opinion be different if I were working for the government? (I'm not.)

  1. Public, open source, not copywrited.
  2. No.
  3. Not necessary. (see bullet 1)
  4. No.
  5. No.
  6. No.
  7. No.

Sven Sven's picture

Wilf Day wrote:

Public, no, no, no, no, no, no.

If I wanted privacy I wouldn't post on a public board in my own name.

I agree with Wilf.

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Unionist

If I were researching this topic, I'd also look at posts on Afghanistan during the 2006 election - i.e. when the NDP was still demanding "debate in Parliament" but not yet calling for withdrawal. But then again, I'm not researching this topic...

Oh, by the way, if you decide to include my posts, let me know and I'll send you the Swiss account number for royalties deposits.

 

 

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
Oh, by the way, if you decide to include my posts, let me know and I'll send you the Swiss account number for royalties deposits. 

Tax Haven Sanctions

With any luck, perhaps your mattress account might be a wiser investment.

Sineed

bariboh wrote:

1) Do you consider your forum posts to be public information or a private conversation?  If I wanted to keep it truly private, I wouldn't have posted on the net.

2) Do you feel that I violated your privacy in reading and/or studying your posts? Of course not; see #1.

3) Should I have asked for permission first? What the hell for?

4) Would it violate your privacy if I quoted your post in my paper?  If somebody can get a PhD from my random musings, so much the better.

5) Would it violate your privacy if I referred to your username in my paper?  It's not my real name.

6) Would your opinion be different if my paper were to be published? (It won't.)  Nope nope nope

7) Would your opinion be different if I were working for the government? (I'm not.)  I suppose if the government wants to waste its time analyzing my drivel, it's time they haven't spent doing something more malign.

A question for you, Gregoire:  you say you're an "international studies" student at Cartoon U.  So why aren't you studying international websites?

bariboh

(Posted twice, sorry.)

bariboh

Thank you all for your useful information and advice.  I will quickly answer some questions that were asked:

- I chose Sept 2006 and Dec 2008 as months because these were two periods during which Canadian casualities were relatively high, as were Canadian Google searches for 'Afghanistan.'  I thus reasoned that there would be many posts on a variety of boards during these months, and that these posts would be widely read.  In hindsight the longitudinal analysis did not give me as much information as I had hoped, and for technical reasons I was unable to secure access to the Sept 2006 posts from the Babble archives.

- My program focuses on Canadian public policy, though my specialization is "international studies".  The best way to describe my field of study is in the context of Canadian foreign policy.  This content analysis assignment is designed to prepare me for the Honours' thesis that I will write next year about the Afghanistan mission.  It has indeed helped me gain a good handle of the issues that are discussed in regards to the Afghan war, and will help me choose a more specific topic to discuss in my thesis.

- The other boards I examined were MapleLeafWeb, CanadianContent, FreeDominion, QuébecPolitique, and PolitiQuébec.  I will post my results once my exams are finished.  I must say that I am a bit nervous about this, because there are so many strong critics in all of these forums.

Thank you again for your input and your understanding.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate.  To all others, I hope you enjoyed the long weekend.

Papal Bull

I'm cool with this as long as you dedicate a paragraph to how awesome I am.

 

At least I'm honest.

Jacob Two-Two

I'm very interested in seeing your results, bariboh.

Girlieboy

bariboh wrote:

I will post my results once my exams are finished.  I must say that I am a bit nervous about this, because there are so many strong critics in all of these forums.

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Just kidding! But as a recent newcomer myself, I think reading this entire thread would be an excellent resource and introduction to Babble, for anyone thinking of participating. It both poses, and answers many questions that are worth considering, and also beautifully demonstrates the reality of what happens, if you do participate.

As to "strong critics", my limited experiece, having originated just one post so far, is very positive in this regard. The thread I originated led me to posting a comment which I know, in retrospect, should have been included in my original post. I suspect I was fearful of expressing it, so this forum helped me be honest. I think, even with the best of intentions, we can all use a little help with that, sometimes.

Sometimes, fear points in the direction to go. Good luck with your paper and exams, bariboh. Oh, and I think everything on Babble is grist for the mill.

Breathe deep. Live shallow. Be brave.

West Coast Greeny

I wouldn't worry about the strong critics. I'll tell you right now it's impossible to placate all of them.

Daedalus Daedalus's picture

Public, no, no, no, no, no, possibly.