Search type

Social Statistics

Ella Guest


The role of moderators and user-contributors in the development of community norms on reddit.

PhD summary

Reddit is a social media platform consisting of distinct interest-based communities called subreddits. The official site administrators only enforce a small set of standards of behaviour across the platform. For the most part each subreddit is allowed to develop a unique understanding of what content and behaviours are allowed and/or encouraged within its space. I am interested in how these subreddit-specific community norms develop overtime. Particularly, I am focused on the roles of volunteer moderators and non-moderating user-contributors in this process, and the relationships between these stakeholder groups and reddit’s official admins.
I am currently comparing two subreddits which vary greatly in both content and form: r/The_Donald and r/ChangeMyView. r/The_Donald is a community for supporters of US President Donald Trump to share content in favour of Trump. On r/ChangeMyView users post an opinion they hold and ask others to attempt to persuade them to change their opinion. In comparison, the two subreddits highlight a wide range of choices subreddit communities must make, implicitly or explicitly, in defining the norms of their space. Drawing upon social network analysis and text analysis techniques I am seeking to determine whether these variations can be reliably identified using quantitative methods and, thus, how other communities can also be analysed on a larger scale.

My research touches upon the following questions:

  • How do subreddit community norms form and develop overtime?
  • To what extent are subreddit members active in the development of community norms?
  • How does the relationship between subreddit moderators and non-moderating members affect the validity of community norms?
  • How does the relationship between reddit admins and subreddit moderators affect moderation roles?
  • How does the pseudonymous nature of reddit affect the researcher’s consideration of reddit users as individuals?


September 2016 – September 2019


NWDTC +3 studentship


I completed my undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh before coming to the University of Manchester to do my MSc in Social Research Methods and Statistics.


  • Johan Koskinen
  • Martin Everett

Contact details

Office: G45 Humanities Bridgeford Street