Measuring the topical specificity of online communities

Rowe, Matthew; Wagner, Claudia; Strohmaier, Markus and Alani, Harith (2013). Measuring the topical specificity of online communities. In: Extended Semantic Web Conference 2013 (ESWC 2013) - Research Track, 26-30 May 2013, Montpellier, France, Springer-Verlag, pp. 472–486.



For community managers and hosts it is not only important to identify the current key topics of a community but also to assess the specificity level of the community for: a) creating sub-communities, and: b) anticipating community behaviour and topical evolution. In this paper we present an approach that empirically characterises the topical specificity of online community forums by measuring the abstraction of semantic concepts discussed within such forums. We present a range of concept abstraction measures that function over concept graphs - i.e. resource type-hierarchies and SKOS category structures - and demonstrate the efficacy of our method with an empirical evaluation using a ground truth ranking of forums. Our results show that the proposed approach outperforms a random baseline and that resource type-hierarchies work well when predicting the topical specificity of any forum with various abstraction measures.

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