Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This research aimed to provide some proof or refutation of the hypothesis that online communities develop specialized vocabularies, often technical jargon, and use elements of those vocabularies, here labeled “tokens,” to ascribe credibility and/or authority to other posters. The literature from a variety of communications fields relating to this topic was summarized as a progression from an early “limitations” model of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to a later “opportunities” model. The drawbacks of current research were outlined and some new paths were sketched, including the methodology employed here. Several discussions from different Web sites, each containing hundreds of posts, were tabulated and analyzed for the effects of inclusion of anecdotally-chosen “token” posts. Gauging authority and credibility as attention paid token posts and positive reaction to token posts, respectively, no correlation was found between token posts and attention paid them. One of three discussions showed a strong correlation between token posts and positive reaction, while two other discussions analyzed yielded results short of statistical significance. Suggestions were made regarding further work in this expanding field.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

David Kurpius