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Submissions/WikiLeaks Comments: An Exploratory Analysis

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

This is an open submission for Wikimania 2011.

Review no.


Title of the submission

WikiLeaks Comments: An Exploratory Analysis

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

Noa Aharony

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Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

Bar-Ilan University

Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)

Internet comments are part of User Generated Content (UGC), where users expand on, critique, and express their ideas about various topics in news and non-news contexts. The current study focuses on WikiLeaks, which is a non-profit media organization that aims to deliver important news and information to the public. The current research would like to explore WikiLeaks' impact worldwide within the readers of three online newspapers, as expressed through the readers comments. Each of the newspapers – The New York Times in the United States, The Guardian in the United Kingdom and Ynet in Israel – is a major, popular channel of communication in its country. The comments were collected on December 1st 2010, three days after the WikiLeaks editors began releasing huge amounts of leaks from all over the world.

This study aims to characterize and analyze factual information about the comments, their linguistic characteristics and their content.

The three primary research questions are:

1. Is there a difference among the three online newspapers concerning the factual information of the comments?

2. Is there a difference among the three online newspapers concerning the linguistic characteristics of the comments?

3. Is there a difference among the three online newspapers concerning the content of the comments? The researcher examined the readers' comments assigned to WikiLeaks and conducted an analysis in two phases: (1) statistical descriptive analysis and (2) content analysis. The researcher chose five articles from Ynet with 363 comments, two articles from The New York Times with 531 comments, and four articles from The Guardian with 918 comments. A sample of 900 comments was selected, 300 from each newspaper, by randomly drawing every third article from each newspaper. The descriptive statistical analysis was conducted on these 900 comments, while the content analysis included 600 comments (200 from each newspaper). For the content analysis the author developed various categories, relying partially on previous categorization of Israeli comments (Galily, 2008; Kohn and Neiger, 2006).

Findings suggest that most of the comments in the three newspapers were associated with the articles' content, dealing with WikiLeaks and showing direct involvement in the written text. In addition, since the issue of WikiLeaks is not simple and arouses various ethical and legal problems, it is not surprising that most of the comments were written in an emotional style and with pathos. The New York Times comments relating to the WikiLeaks phenomenon are, however, quite different from those in Ynet and The Guardian in the following aspects: their length, the fact that most of the writers identify either by name or with a nickname, the largest use of logos, and the limited use of slogans. It appears that The New York Times comments are written distinctively—more thoroughly and seriously— and attempt to create, respectable discourse and present diverse perspectives regarding the WikiLeaks phenomenon. This difference may reflect another culture of discourse that characterizes The New York Times readers in comparison with The Guardian and Ynet readers.


Galily, Y. (2008). The (re)shaping of the Israeli sport media: The case of talk-back. International Journal of Sport Communication 1, 273-285.

Kohn, A. , & Neiger, M. (2006). To talk and talkback: Analyzing the rhetoric of talkbacks in online journalism. Paper presented at the Israel communication association conference. Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)

Wiki Technology

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  1. Vibhijain 11:26, 5 May 2011 (UTC) Can be a good topic[reply]
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