Online Anonymity and its Effects on Virtual Community: A Microdiscursive Analysis of the Public Chatboard

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kristina Wirtz

Second Advisor

Dr. Sarah Hill

Third Advisor

Dr. Vincent Lyon-Callo


Anonymity, virtual, community, cyberanthropology, sociolinguistic

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Abstract Only

Restricted to Campus until



Within the growing field of Cyberanthropology, virtual communities represent a venue of study in which participants can actively shape and construct online community norms of acceptable behavior. This thesis demonstrates how anonymity, or lack of a fixed identity, is a destructive feature within online interactions. Through a microdiscursive examination of the chatboard at the website, tension between the desire for a cohesive and supportive community and the negative behavior afforded by anonymity emerges as a constant theme in participant discussions.

Throughout over three years of study of the chatboard at, tension caused by negative anonymous behavior continues to be an omnipresent undertone, often preventing constructive discussions among participants. This utilization of online anonymity in disruptive ways has broader implications outside the message board on; as the number of people participating in online social interaction continues to grow rapidly, online identity and cyberbullying are resulting in tragic consequences, making investigation into the tension between anonymity and online culture increasingly imperative.


This thesis is unavailable because permission has not been granted by the author. A print copy is available at the WMU Waldo Library in the General Stacks at call number: HV 9999.A336

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