报 告 人：杨雪 教授
Online platforms have been facilitating users for various types of communications, activities, and consumptions and create tremendous commercial values through online member participation. To achieve sustained participation, online platforms need to maintain an healthy environment with consistent rules for each participant. However, system loopholes often emerge due to the malfunctions of platforms and some participants may break the platform policy and benefit from the loopholes. As a result, when taking recovery measures, online platforms will face a dilemma between punishing the loophole exploiters and taking major responsibility with no punishment. Each direction of the decision may take the risk of offending a group of users, i.e., the system exploiters, other observing users, or both. According to just deserts theory and retributive vs. utilitarian theory of punishment, the choice of different directions of punishment decision (punish or not punish) depends on the justice intuition and underlying philosophy of punishment of the relevant parties. The question remains unclear about the effects of different punishment decisions which will be critical for sustained participation of platform users. In this study, we utilize the field data of an online gaming platform to examine the effects of gaming policy breach due to system loopholes (in the form of BUG incidents) and the platform’s different punishment decisions on player responses. By employing the methods of regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences models, we found that the occurrence of BUGs have negative impacts on the observing players’ in-game online duration, consumption amount and charge amount. Surprisingly, although the platform is responsible for the BUGs and the BUG users are a small group, the decision of not punishing them leads to even worse outcomes. In contrast, after punishing the BUG users, observing players' performance were significantly improved, especially those who are more likely to be influenced by BUG users. These findings enriched the literature and theories concerning the relationships between online platform system loophole exploitation management and sustained user participation. Practical guidance is offered for online platforms to design effective rules and recovery measures under the situation of a system loophole exploitation.