Title page for ETD etd-05162009-172322

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bea, Alexander
URN etd-05162009-172322
Title TreeHugging users: Engagement in an online green community
Degree Master of Arts
Department Communication Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Tedesco, John C. Committee Chair
Mackay, Jennifer B. Committee Member
Prince, Stephen R. Committee Member
  • blog
  • blog posts
  • blog comments
  • environment
  • framing
  • interactivity
  • Internet
  • metacommunication
  • public sphere
  • TreeHugger
Date of Defense 2009-05-01
Availability unrestricted
The study of blogs up to this point has primarily, though not exclusively, covered “A-list” and political or campaign blogs. Large filter blogs have not yet been the focus of communication research and offer an exciting new area of scholarship in online communication. This study examined if and how the environmental blog, TreeHugger, works to engage and maintain the online environmental community by potentially acting an online environmental public sphere and interacting with users who make up the community.

Through a content analysis of two constructed weeks of blog posts (N=336) and their comments (N=1342) from the first half of 2008, this study examined the discussion of issues, use of interactive feature, and presence of the metacommunication frame in both groups. Results showed significant influence of topic and tone in the blog posts on the subsequent user comments. They also showed how commenters’ discussion can operate quite independently as well. In particular, comments were found to have a negative valence significantly more than the posts. Also, the focus of external metacommunication frames in each differed significantly, with posts referencing other mass media more often.

Overall, this thesis concludes that writers for blogs like TreeHugger have limited influence on the discussion in the comments. Greater understanding of that influence could help bloggers engage readers better and promote active dialogue.

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