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How do you feel about forum posts being observed for student research on history in games?

BeavertroniusBeavertronius UKRegistered Users Posts: 8
I’m a student with the Open University, and I look at how ancient Rome is represented in videogames, and the types of online activities that players of these games carry out. This is especially the community and discussion aspects but also things like player-created mods & AARs.

It will be a little while before I will be starting the project, so I just wanted to let you know that I will be here, and also start this discussion thread to gauge how you feel about me being here and observing forum users’ discussions with the participants in my study. This would ONLY be interactions with the actual study participants, so not everything on the site would be observed.

Do you assume that these forums are public when you post discussions, mods, AARs or add to threads? Or would you assume that only the forum users would see what you post, i.e do you feel that these discussions are essentially private?

If you have any thoughts on this it would be great to hear them! Do feel free to PM me as well if you would prefer, where I can also give you my email address if you would like chat in more detail.

Researching ... for science!



  • CA_ChristosCA_Christos Junior Member Registered Users Posts: 254
    Please don't post the same thread across the forum. One post is enough. Thank you.
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - Hunter S. Thompson

  • BeavertroniusBeavertronius UKRegistered Users Posts: 8
    Sorry! Looks like I'm already causing trouble.... thanks for letting me know.

    I'll be much more careful in future not to spam you guys!
    Researching ... for science!

  • Qinshi#2439Qinshi#2439 Registered Users Posts: 263
    This is a gameforum.
    Its not that people talk about illigal stuff here.
  • BeavertroniusBeavertronius UKRegistered Users Posts: 8
    Yeah it's not so much about the legality of the post itself, more whether it's ok for me to directly quote people on here in something that's later published, and whether it's ok to use people's usernames in the quotation...
    Researching ... for science!

  • tak22tak22 Senior Member Registered Users Posts: 2,386
    Professional academic here.

    The forums are by definition public. However, because of the informal/non-academic nature of the discussion, I think most people do not post here expecting to be quoted elsewhere (in contrast to e.g. an academic paper, which published specifically for purposes of academic discussion which would involve quotations).

    With those two points in mind,

    (1) I think it is fair game for you to observe general trends on the forums and comment on them in your own words. For citation you would probably give the links to whole threads. (e.g. for this one, 'How do you feel about forum posts being observed for student research on history in games?' accessed 18 January 2017 at https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/190006/how-do-you-feel-about-forum-posts-being-observed-for-student-research-on-history-in-games#latest.)

    (2) If you find particular comments you want to quote, 'best practices' of academic ethics would probably involve getting the consent of the poster via PM (if denied, you'd have to resort to a general paraphrase as in (1)). You would of course cite the link to the specific comment if you are given permission to quote. (e.g. for your first comment above: 'Commenter Beavertronius on 11 Jan 2017, accessed 18 Jan 2017, at https://forums.totalwar.com/discussion/comment/1731436/#Comment_1731436)

    (3) Your institution may have a research ethics policy which would bear on this kind of situation - easiest way to find out would be to contact your professor/supervisor.

    That's from the academic perspective, if CA has a specific policy it would be up to @CA_Christos to provide it.
  • BeavertroniusBeavertronius UKRegistered Users Posts: 8
    Hi Tak!

    Thank you, that all seems like really good advice!

    I've been trawling through the university's various ethics policies and what it seems to come down to is that this type of research is a grey area - I know some academics who have quoted forum posts without explicit consent in the assumption they are public, though others take the exact opposite view, and argue the necessity of acquiring informed consent from forum users before using their content.

    I think the main problems tend to be when posts are much older, so it can be more difficult to obtain informed consent if e.g. the poster doesn't use the forum anymore. However I hope that this will not be the case for me as I will (hopefully!) be seeing contributions as they occur. In which case it should be easier to get the consent if I do want to quote anybody verbatim.

    I really appreciate your comments though, and it is precisely this kind of feedback that made me want to open this channel of communication in the first place, so thanks again!

    Researching ... for science!

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