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DLINQ Studios

Delving into the Design of Online Conflict Resolution Systems

Image of fingers pointing at each other to denote blame.

This summer, I experienced the Digital Pedagogy Lab for the first time; I got to participate in the Inclusive Design track led by Kevin Gannon and was fascinated by speakers Ruha Benjamin and Robin DeRosa. At DPL, I often found my train of thought and curiosity about the critical digital world expanding into interdisciplinary realms and all its possibilities.

 

This semester, in the spirit of this curiosity, I decided to look at inclusive design through the lens of my Conflict Resolution specialization and take a deeper dive into what the systems designed for resolving, mediating, or simply responding to conflict look like in online spaces. I want to learn about and understand the design of the systems in place for resolving “conflicts” and look at how it affects the sense of online users’ inclusion in digital spaces. For the purposes of this inquiry process, I want to focus on dominant platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter because they have faced widespread scrutiny in this arena, therefore will serve as a good starting point. 

Here is a list of my initial questions around about conflict resolution in online spaces:

  1. What is the system for reporting conflict?
  2. Are these systems adequate for what they handle?
  3. Are these systems fair? Equal?
  4. How is it regulated, if at all? 
  5. How is the system regulated or updated? 
  6. How often is the system design updated?
  7. What is the process after something or someone is reported? 
  8. Who has the power to impact the regulations? Who are the influencers?
  9. How are decisions made about how the system should work? Money? Public pressure?
  10. How are decisions made about what counts as a “conflict”?
  11. How can these systems be more empathetic to victims?
  12. Who is accountable? The platform or the user? 
  13. How are they held accountable?
  14. Who are the stakeholders in this system design? 
  15. Who benefits from the system in place? Who is left out?
  16. Who is the enforcer? 
  17. Who has the power to make changes to this system?

As with all inquiry processes, I expect these questions will grow and evolve throughout my research. 

This is the beginning of a series of posts where I will be sharing my findings of the design of online conflict resolution systems. Follow me on my quest to find answers to these questions. In my next post, I will delve into why we should be talking about the implications of conflict resolution systems design in online spaces and why we should care.

See you there!

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