I actually want to follow up on the post by Ben. My research project concentrates on the “netnography” method. Therefore, I will be looking into researching a digital community. The only problem with this idea is that ethnography by definition involves participation. All the articles I have encountered on the method support this concept. In fact, many claim that the only way it can be considered ethnography in the digital sphere is by participating.
Ethnographic ethics is a very interesting field. The main idea is that the researcher must always be identified. While this might create issues since people will sometimes act differently knowing they are being watched, it is important to always identify yourself as performing research. Also, it can help with any ethical issues by providing a link to your research proposal and methods of data gathering in the signature of every email and post. While ethnography in the physical field makes the identification of researchers easy (the researcher is generally the one with a notebook and writing utensil constantly in their hand), the digital realm does make this ethical identification more difficult. It is vitally important to go through with everything associated with identification and knowledge of the project at all possible points despite the difficulties to make sure it holds up to ethical scrutiny for online ethnographies.