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Public Dialogue: Analysis of Tolerance in Online Discussions

Arjun Mukherjee, Vivek Venkataraman, Bing Liu and Sharon Meraz

The 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2013)
Sofia, Bulgaria, August 4-9, 2013


Social media platforms have enabled people to freely express their views and discuss issues of interest with others. While it is important to discover the topics in discussions, it is equally useful to mine the nature of such discussions or debates and the behavior of the participants. There are many questions that can be asked. One key question is whether the participants give reasoned arguments with justifiable claims via constructive debates or exhibit dogmatism and egotistic clashes of ideologies. The central idea of this question is tolerance, which is a key concept in the field of communications. In this work, we perform a computational study of tolerance in the context of online discussions. We aim to identify tolerant vs. intolerant participants and investigate how disagreement affects tolerance in discussions in a quantitative framework. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first such study. Our experiments using real-life discussions demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed technique and also provide some key insights into the psycholinguistic phenomenon of tolerance in online discussions.

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