Purpose – To evaluate and extend, existing natural language processing techniques into the domain of informal online political discussions. Design/methodology/approach – A database of postings from a US political discussion site was collected, along with self‐reported political orientation data for the users. A variety of sentiment analysis, text classification, and social network analysis methods were applied to the postings and evaluated against the users' self‐descriptions. Findings – Purely text‐based methods performed poorly, but could be improved using techniques which took into account the users' position in the online community. Research limitations/implications – The techniques we applied here are fairly simple, and more sophisticated learning algorithms may yield better results for text‐based classification. Practical implications – This work suggests that social network analysis is an important tool for performing natural language processing tasks with informal web texts. Originality/value – This research extends sentiment analysis to a new subject domain (US politics) and a new text genre (informal online discusssions).
Internet Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 4, 2008
Keywords: Politics; Databases; Online operations; United States of America