Are User-contributed Reviews Community Property? Exploring the Beliefs and Practices of Reviewers

User-contributed reviews form the cornerstone of many Web communities and online services. People rely on reviews as a source of information about products, services, creative efforts, and the reputation of other buyers and sellers. Although specific rights about the ownership and control of these reviews are spelled out in licensing agreements and by copyright law, most reviewers’ actions are guided instead by evolving social norms. In this paper, we report on 203 responses to a questionnaire offered to reliable US-based Mechanical Turk workers who have written different types of online reviews. The questionnaire uses a series of realistic scenarios and specific questions about recent practice to probe participants about how online reviews may be reused, archived, re-purposed, deleted, and otherwise manipulated. We use these collective attitudes and behaviors to arrive at a picture of current social norms and examine user-contributed reviews as a counterpart to other types of online content, including photos and tweets.

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In  Proceedings of WebSci 2013

Publisher  ACM
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