AAAI Publications, Twelfth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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"At Least the Pizzas You Make Are Hot": Norms, Values, and Abrasive Humor on the Subreddit r/RoastMe
Anna Kasunic, Geoff Kaufman

Last modified: 2018-06-15


We present a mixed methods study of the online forum r/RoastMe, a comedy-focused subreddit of the parent site, wherein members post photos of themselves to be ridiculed by other members; the site generally encourages harsh and offensive forms of humor in these interpersonal exchanges. We conducted semi-structured interviews with sixteen participants (both "roasters" and "roastees") in the online forum to understand their motivations for participating, their experiences in the subreddit, and their perceptions of their and other members' participation. To complement our qualitative analyses, we also analyzed a RoastMe data set of over 9,000 image posts and 230,000 comments from June-August of 2017. From our interviews, we found that, like other deviant online communities, RoastMe relies on a specific set of norms. In RoastMe, roasters rely heavily on perspective-taking rather than dissociation from their targets, roastees highly value the often scathing assessments offered by users on RoastMe, and, despite the salience of norms that enhance feelings of safety, there is lingering concern among participants about the potential for emotional or psychological harm. Our quantitative analyses confirm many of the statements made in our qualitative interviews and provide further insights into the specific nature of interactions on the subreddit. Our study directs us toward different vantage points from which to design online community spaces that account for or leverage users' predilections for baiting behaviors, harsh judgments, and caustic humor.


mixed methods; Reddit; humor; interviews; qualitative; norms

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