Calculating Argument Diversity in Online Threads

Authors Cedric Waterschoot, Antal van den Bosch, Ernst van den Hemel

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Cedric Waterschoot
  • KNAW Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Antal van den Bosch
  • KNAW Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ernst van den Hemel
  • KNAW Humanities Cluster NL-Lab, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Cedric Waterschoot, Antal van den Bosch, and Ernst van den Hemel. Calculating Argument Diversity in Online Threads. In 3rd Conference on Language, Data and Knowledge (LDK 2021). Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 93, pp. 39:1-39:9, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2021)


We propose a method for estimating argument diversity and interactivity in online discussion threads. Using a case study on the subject of Black Pete ("Zwarte Piet") in the Netherlands, the approach for automatic detection of echo chambers is presented. Dynamic thread scoring calculates the status of the discussion on the thread level, while individual messages receive a contribution score reflecting the extent to which the post contributed to the overall interactivity in the thread. We obtain platform-specific results. Gab hosts only echo chambers, while the majority of Reddit threads are balanced in terms of perspectives. Twitter threads cover the whole spectrum of interactivity. While the results based on the case study mirror previous research, this calculation is only the first step towards better understanding and automatic detection of echo effects in online discussions.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Information systems → World Wide Web
  • Information systems → Sentiment analysis
  • Human-centered computing → Social media
  • Social Media
  • Echo Chamber
  • Interactivity
  • Argumentation
  • Stance


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