Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reflectie Piece

For the free choice blog post, I have opted to do the reflective piece. This decision was in part influenced by the fact that my previous blog posts do not appear to have been very strong, and I am hoping that taking a good hard look at my project and the online community that I'm doing will help improve this project for me.
My project is to study the Once Upon A Time discussion board and the different emotions that run rampant there; what affects people the most and how they behave. For this reflective piece I'm taking a look at three different aspects of the community: emotion, identity, and patterns.

Emotion: The most common way for members of the IMDB community to display their emotions is in how they type. To clarify, someone who is emotional will likely use caps lock or bold/ italic print or lots of exclamation points, or have little flashing emoticons around their text (or some combination thereof). I have come to refer to this as emotion-type, for lack of a better name. Emotion is also displayed through repetition. That is to say, if someone has a strong opinion about a discussion board post, they continue to add comments to it, particularly if another member posts something that contradicts or ridicules what the former member has said. I have noticed that in that case, as said member continues to make posts defending themselves, they grow more and more likely to start typing in all caps, or with angry emoticon faces or etc. By this point though, its clear that their use of emotion-type is due to frustration, rather than simple excitement, which is the main reason for emotion-type. Constantly commenting on a post is rare however; most members make a comment or two and leave it at that, even those members with the excited caps lock and smiley face posts. People who continually make comments are usually being negative, and are not well-received by other members. The typical response is to ignore that negative person, or troll, if you will. Sometimes a member will make a derisive response to the troll's post, but then go back to ignoring them, leaving the troll to have an emotion-type tantrum on their own.

Identity: Discussion board posts, although I have not found a rule saying they are required to be, are all strictly anonymous on the Once Upon A Time board; people's user names generally come from the first part of their email address. If you click on a member's user name you can see their profile, but that does not provide you with personal information, even gender. You will only see a profile picture, how long they've been a member, and if they've recently rated or commented on anything. However, discussion board members can still have well-developed online identities. One example of a form of identity is the quote that most members include at the bottom of every post they make. It can be almost anything; a name: Mrs. Rumplstilskin, Harlot of the Leather Pants; a quote: "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout"; or something you support: Long live Captain Swan! By observing these bottom of the page quotes, it is easier to get a feel for this anonymous member that you are observing. People whose names or catch phrases directly relate to the show have proven more likely to be frequent posters, complete with emotion-type. Also, members' identities form through what they post, and how they post it. When the die-hard fans make their posts, very rarely are they short or emotion-type free. Some people are clearly just looking for attention, in the way that they pick fights or keep asking questions about a subject that everyone else has moved past. Those whose posts are brief and nondescript are usually just viewers of the show who have only come on the board to get a question about the show itself answered. And of course, as mentioned above, there are the trolls. In my observations of the members, I have surmised that the average member falls somewhere in the middle: not quite a die-hard fan and not a troll, just someone who has come onto the discussion board because they felt like expressing their enjoyment or complaints about the show.

Patterns: One of the things that I decided I would keep a lookout for when I started this project was patterns occurring throughout the discussion board. In my studies so far, patterns that I've observed have been pretty general so far. With each week comes a new episode, and with that, a string of similar posts that gush about the show or complain about a character, etc. After 2-3 days it usually dies down. And about 2-3 days after that, the number of posts picks up again, with people getting excited for the new episode. Without fail, the day the gets the most posts is Monday, which is the day after the show airs. Another thing that I've been trying to observe is patterns that come from specific members themselves. I mentioned earlier the trolls who routinely post due to aggravation or because they're trying to get a rise out of people, but troll excluded, I have yet to observe a pattern in the behavior or any specific members. I am curious about that though, so I will continue to observe it.

I hope that this blog post is an improvement, and will help give anyone who reads it a better idea of  how my project is going. Writing it was certainly helpful, especially in terms of making connections. Please comment with any questions or advice.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Data Analysis Memo #2 (with image)

Above is an image from the Once Upon A Time discussion board. The very first entry was posted by me, as an experiment. In my last data analysis, I had discussed how many members of this online community were mostly complaining in their posts, either about the show itself, or about other people's complaints. However, even with all the complaining posts in regards to the show's rather disappointing first episode, the dominant theme on the discussion board before, during, and after the episode 1 timeframe was fan (mostly fangirl) lust. Having viewed Once Upon A Time myself, I can vouch for the fact that nearly all members of the cast are extremely god-looking; the people who post on the discussion board consistently make posts in regards to their appreciation for said cast members. My goal for this project is to study the emotional reactions of people on the discussion board, with an emphasis on what gets them all riled up. So I decided to test and observe that my making my own post about the most lusted after character on the discussion board: Rumplestilskin.

Rumplestilskin is an older, somewhat crazy, antihero who sends fangirls into a frenzy, particularly when the character wears tight black leather pants. Although quite interesting as a character, I don't particularly see the appeal. Meanwhile, last season on the show, the character of Captain Hook was introduced. Captain Hook is young, cocky, and full of roguish charm that has also sent fangirls squealing (and in this case, I can definitely see the appeal). Since both characters have led to a whole bunch of excited posts with many exclamation points and caps lock, I decided that I would use both of them in my post, contrasting each other. My post, entitled "Rumple or Hook" asked members which character they prefer and why.

I was expecting a fair number of responses, and I got them. The picture above shows one page worth of comments; at the present time that number has tripled, earning about a page and a half more comments than the average post gets. However, not all of the reaction was as I expected. Previous discussion board posts have shown that people are fiercely fond of their favorite characters, so I was anticipating some bickering, if not full-fledged internet fights, between fangirls with differing opinions. That wasn't the case though; every single person who posted said that they preferred Rumplestilskin. A few also had nice things to say about Hook, but Rumple was unanimously the favorite. Most likely if I had made a post claiming Hook's superiority or bashing Rumple, then I would've gotten a more fierce emotional response.

Even though the result of my experiment was different that anticipated, it showed once again, how the members of the discussion board are united. Last time, they came together over things they don't like; this time it was something they did like, Rumplestilskin, and they formed a large, thriving fanbase. Most of the responses were polite and cheerful, representing how a fanbase is when unprovoked. And once again, there were caps lock, exclamation points, and general squeals of fangirl lust, something no Once Upon A Time discussion board is complete without, evidently.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Image for data analysis

This is a digital image of the data that I analyzed for my last post, the data analysis memo.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Data Analysis Memo

For my first data analysis memo, I have selected one of the posts from the IMDB Once Upon A Time discussion board, along with the comments that ensued. In class I will feature the original post, and a single comment that I feel best builds onto the post. There were multiple other comments, but only two could fit onto a sheet of paper, and most of the extras were redundant; that is to say, the discussion board members were piling onto what they had already said, or new members were agreeing.

The post is entitled "Drink Up, Me Hearties! The Season 3 Drinking Game", and in it, ranguvar (the name of the person who posted it) encourages viewers who are going through the discussion board to take one shot or two shots or to finish the bottle when someone makes a discussion board post complaining about certain characters or aspects of the show. Having combed the discussion boards myself, ranguvar has hit a lot of the right notes in determining what people are complaining about. Seasons 1 & 2 of Once Upon A Time have been for the most part very well-received, but Season 3, which premiered on September 30th, has triggered a multitude of complaints, which have not much subsided since Sunday night (as a huge fan of the show, I confess myself a bit disappointed as well).

Ranguvar's post earned multiple comments; the one I included was posted by alismigyette. Ranguvar had, at the end of her post, encouraged people to add more ideas for why someone should take a shot in regards to the discussion board post. Alismigyette did exactly that, along with parts of the show itself that merit shot-taking too, although her comment focused more on the behavior of the other discussion board members that the behavior of the show's characters. To clarify: ranguvar says take a drink if someone makes a post asking if the character Captain Hook is gay, alismigyette says take a drink if someone is caught trolling. (I feel obligated to point out, after having studied the discussion boards, that if someone took a shot every time someone made a post about the things ranguvar and/or alismigyette has mentioned, they would be in an alcohol-induced coma within a matter of hours. Or dead. Don't try this at home.)

My goal for this project is to study the emotional behaviors displayed on the discussion board, to discover what gets people the most riled up or excited, and to find patterns. As I predicted earlier, I have an endless supply of material. Multiple posts are going up every hour, and emotions can start to run high. People who have expressed disappointment about the show are met with responses from people who are sick of reading negative posts. Those people who compliment the show get posed questions by members who are confused about the current plot. And of course there's the never-ending talks about which characters are the best/worst, and why. As the show progresses, ranguvar's post will get buried under the mass of other posts, though I don't expect it to stop becoming relevant. People will always find something to complain about. How much complaining there is depends on what direction the show takes. Right now, as ranguvar and alismigyette mention in their posts, viewers are mostly displeased with the behavior of the characters. We'll have to wait and see if the show picks up enough in future episodes for people to overlook that.

Finally, I need to mention the one emotion that had and still has the biggest presence in the discussion board, overshadowing even peoples' whines: lust. I will credit Once Upon A Time for having no shortage of good-looking actors, and the viewers' appreciation for that is endless. One character, in particular, has a thriving fan base. Rumplestilskin, the somewhat crazy antihero who is played by a middle-aged actor and in some scenes has scaly golden skin, has sparked more drooling fan girl posts than any other character in the show by far. Ranguvar and alismigyette both signed their posts with a tribute to him. Ranguvar: Harlot of the leather pants, Mrs. Rumplestilskin. Alismigyette: Officially Rumple's keeper of the dagger- success! They are two of many, many posters who have expressed their liking of the bad boy in leather pants. Rumplestilskin is not the only character with a heated fan base however. Captain Hook in particular, the young, cocky, charming pirate, has maintained a high popularity.  I have an experiment in mind, involving all the lust coursing through the discussion board. I'm going to make a post of my own, asking people if they prefer Rumple or Hook, and observe if that leads to interest, arguments, or general fan-girl slobbering. We'll see what happens.