Can We Have Healthy Conversations Online?

Most of the worst elements are probably familiar to you: the trolling, the false information, and the squabbles that rapidly turn political and spiral out of hand. However, online discussions can also be respectful and educational.

For example, the Vaccine Talk Facebook group employs a combination of rules and active monitoring to foster the exchange of factual information. Several threads on Reddit are dedicated discussing hot-button issues without resorting to sarcasm. “Communities,” a new feature on Twitter, was just created to encourage healthy discourse.

Those places where meaningful dialogue takes place can teach us a lot. What are these groups doing so well?

To learn more about what makes the healthiest online communities so successful, Shira Ovide, the author of the subscriber-only newsletter On Tech, will host a virtual event for The Times. This includes a former participant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, an executive from one of the most popular community platforms, and a current member of that platform’s staff.

We’ll encourage you to participate in a group conversation experiment before the event to see if it works.

As a member-only virtual event series, only those who have subscribed to The Times can participate in this conversation.