Thank you all for your enthusiastic and (sometimes) insightful replies.
Liberalman can rest assured that my first name is at the bottom of my initial post; he knows it just as well as my favourite bartender. I'm sorry that the introduction to my letter did not include more foreplay; I kept things simple so as to make it easier to translate the letter into French.
Exams have already begun, but due to a mix-up in the course outline the paper is not yet due. I am finished with the research however, and have written a good ten pages so far. I hope to finish the paper this weekend as my first exam is on Tuesday. This is not a major assignment, despite its moderate length.
The observations about laziness and intimidation on message boards do reflect my own in some cases, though I was able to witness some very interesting discussions between individuals who would be unlikely to ever talk politics together in real life. Despite the "catty" nature of many of the conversations, I thought that a qualitative study of the content was interesting, owing in part to the fact that it hasn't been done before. A null result is still a result; if I conclude that message boards are a waste of time, that isn't necessarily a bad conclusion. In any event, the core of my paper will talk about the lack of established methodology and ethical guidelines when it comes to this type of media.
I hope this clears up some questions. I will post my final copy in late April, once exams are finished and I have time to format it for online viewing.