Research Topic

Peer Governance in Online Communities

About this Research Topic

Much of the attention on the governance of online platforms has focused on the power held by large online operators and the challenge they face in governing these platforms: How can they regulate users' behavior and moderate the content that these platforms display? To which extent should they be held accountable for such content?

This Research Topic turns to the under-discussed and under-studied questions of governance within the communities that online platforms host: How do users develop governance rules and informal norms? What is the legitimacy of these rules, and how are they enforced? What is the extent to which users with moderator roles held accountable for their decisions? What are the sanctions available to these communities?

Online communities typically have to rely on a narrow set of governance tools, based on moderators without direct accountability to community members. As a result, online communities often end up developing ad-hoc governance practices based on highly contextual needs, which are not readily enforceable within one platform and are not interoperable among multiple platforms.

This Research Topic seeks to probe the realities and possibilities of peer governance through original research on the following topics:
• Empirical realities of governance practices in online communities, explored through ethnographic, statistical, and historical methods
• Affordances and constraints of existing software available to online communities, through the lens of human-computer interaction and related fields
• Proposals for and experiments with alternative techniques for online community governance
• Theories of distributed governance as applied to online platforms, analysis of their corresponding benefits and pitfalls, and how to overcome them


Keywords: social networks, social media, social platform, human-computer interaction, community governance


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Much of the attention on the governance of online platforms has focused on the power held by large online operators and the challenge they face in governing these platforms: How can they regulate users' behavior and moderate the content that these platforms display? To which extent should they be held accountable for such content?

This Research Topic turns to the under-discussed and under-studied questions of governance within the communities that online platforms host: How do users develop governance rules and informal norms? What is the legitimacy of these rules, and how are they enforced? What is the extent to which users with moderator roles held accountable for their decisions? What are the sanctions available to these communities?

Online communities typically have to rely on a narrow set of governance tools, based on moderators without direct accountability to community members. As a result, online communities often end up developing ad-hoc governance practices based on highly contextual needs, which are not readily enforceable within one platform and are not interoperable among multiple platforms.

This Research Topic seeks to probe the realities and possibilities of peer governance through original research on the following topics:
• Empirical realities of governance practices in online communities, explored through ethnographic, statistical, and historical methods
• Affordances and constraints of existing software available to online communities, through the lens of human-computer interaction and related fields
• Proposals for and experiments with alternative techniques for online community governance
• Theories of distributed governance as applied to online platforms, analysis of their corresponding benefits and pitfalls, and how to overcome them


Keywords: social networks, social media, social platform, human-computer interaction, community governance


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 July 2020 Abstract
15 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 July 2020 Abstract
15 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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