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Discovering User Interactions in Ideological Discussions

Arjun Mukherjee and Bing Liu

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


Online discussion forums are a popular platform for people to voice their opinions on any subject matter and to discuss or debate any issue of interest. In forums where users discuss social, political, or religious issues, there are often heated debates among users or participants. Existing research has studied mining of user stances or camps on certain issues, opposing perspectives, and contention points. In this paper, we focus on identifying the nature of interactions among user pairs. The central questions are: How does each pair of users interact with each other? Does the pair of users mostly agree or disagree? What is the lexicon that people often use to express agreement and disagreement? We present a topic model based approach to answer these questions. Since agreement and disagreement expressions are usually multi-word phrases, we propose to employ a ranking method to identify highly relevant phrases prior to topic modeling. After modeling, we use the modeling results to classify the nature of interaction of each user pair. Our evaluation results using real-life discussion/debate posts demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed techniques.

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