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r/AmItheAsshole User Behavior Study

Why and How do People Edit: Self-Interactions in Post Edits of r/AmItheAsshole

Reddit is an online community where people can post anonymously. In subreddit r/AmItheAsshole, users would raise the question "Am I the Asshole" with descriptions of what they did or intended to do. Others will reply by judging whether such behavior/thought is bad or not. 

One outstanding phenomenon is that many who ask questions choose to edit their original post after receiving feedbacks. This study thus explores what do users think when they edit their posts through conducting natural language processing in Python.


August 2019



Data Exploration
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The data shows that 4% of the posts are edited, most of which edit only once. Amongst the edited posts, only 6% are judged by others as "No judge." This is an incredibly small percentage in comparison to 52% in posts without edits. This indicates that posts that are edited are more likely to come up with a conclusive result, and are thus of high research value.

Data Analysis: Self-Interaction

On the left is a trigram of words in edited posts. The trigram shows two tendencies: either the edited posts are about appreciation to the comments or about expression of oneself. The latter appears the most common, and is consisted of two kinds: denying and explaining, as well as reflecting and regretting. 

Such focus on self-expression is further proven by the i-to-them ratio on down below. It shows that edited posts tend to use more "I" than "them," especially in the edited contents within the edited posts.

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These discoveries together informed three kinds of self-interactions when users are editing their posts in r/AmItheAsshole: self-reflection, self-moderation, and self-justification. Reflective phrases such as "i should have" and appreciations such as "thank you" shows that some users re-think their behaviors and changed their minds after receiving the feedbacks; Denial phrases such as "i don't" and "i didn't" shows the user's resistance towards other's understanding of the post, and an attempt to moderate and justify one's own behaviors or thoughts.

This study thus take both a distant reading and a close examination of the edited posts. The combination of data science and the humanities allows for a comprehensive analysis of the subject studied.

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