You’re the asshole: Building online community norms around Twitter’s AITA account

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


This paper concerns the affinity space created around the popular Twitter account @AITA_reddit, which is specifically set up to repost AITA (‘Am I the Asshole’) posts from the Reddit community of the same name, where users share tricky or questionable situations in which they have found themselves, and ask other users whether they are at fault. The Twitter AITA account is not affiliated with Reddit in any way: it just shares the posts made on that platform with Twitter users, whose comments will (likely) never reach the original Reddit posters. These comments are a mix of serious judgements on the original posts and many different forms of online creative conversational humour (Dynel & Poppi, 2020), which includes meme usage, in-jokes and intertextuality. Twitter users’ known tendency to exaggerate opinions and emotions (Terkourafi et al., 2018) is clearly reflected in this case of radical stance-taking, concerning (sometimes deceivingly) common everyday situations.

The analysis of @AITA_reddit’s most popular Twitter posts reveals the intricacies of the affinity space created around this account. In this space, certain users emerge as key figures due to the specific roles they play in the community, and ambient affiliation (Zappavigna, 2011) among users is expressed through likes and retweets to (mostly) stand-alone comments. The users that interact with @AITA_reddit’s posts (and who do not necessarily follow the account) focus on justifying/condemning the OP’s (original poster’s) behaviour according to the moral order (Kádár et al., 2019, p. 8; Kádár & Haugh, 2013, pp. 93–94). The ingroup subscribes to a particular understanding of justice and morality, typically defined by leftist political views; in turn, those who have a different understanding of morality are viewed as the outgroup and are generally subjected to insults (both written and via images/gifs) and seen as a challenge to the (unwritten) norm.
Period29 Jun 2021
Event title17th International Pragmatics Conference
Event typeConference
LocationWinterthur, SwitzerlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • (im)politeness
  • affinity spaces
  • CMC
  • Twitter
  • humour
  • norms