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Go Away” Participant Objections to Being Studied and the Ethics of Chatroom Research.pdf 13页

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Go Away” Participant Objections to Being Studied and the Ethics of Chatroom Research
The Information Society, 20: 127–139, 2004 Copyright c? Taylor & Francis Inc. ISSN: 0197-2243 print / 1087-6537 online DOI: 10.1080/01972240490423030 “Go Away”: Participant Objections to Being Studied and the Ethics of Chatroom Research James M. Hudson and Amy Bruckman College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA In this article we present an empirical study aimed at better understanding the potential for harm when conducting research in chatrooms. For this study, we entered IRC chatrooms on the ICQ network and posted one of three messages to tell participants that we were recording them: a recording message, an opt-in message, or an opt-out message. In the fourth condition, we entered the cha- troom but did not post a message. We recorded and analyzed how subjects responded to being studied. Results of a regression analysis indicate significantly more hostility in the three conditions where we said something than in the control condition. We were kicked out of 63.3% of the chatrooms we entered in the three message con- ditions compared with 29% of the chatrooms in the control con- dition. There were no significant differences between any of these three conditions. Notably, when given a chance to opt in, only 4 of 766 potential subjects chose to do so. Results also indicate signifi- cant effects for both size and the number of moderators. For every 13 additional people in a chatroom, the likelihood getting kicked out was cut in half. While legal and ethical concerns are distinct, we conclude by arguing that studying chatrooms constitutes hu- man subjects research under U.S. law, but that a waiver of consent is appropriate in most cases as obtaining consent is impracticable. Keywords chatrooms, ethics, informed consent, IRB, online research, waiver of consent Learning what will in fact benefit may require exposing persons to risk. The problem posed by these imperatives is to decide when it is justifiable to seek certain benefits despit


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