Neele Falk


2024

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Moderation in the Wild: Investigating User-Driven Moderation in Online Discussions
Neele Falk | Eva Vecchi | Iman Jundi | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 18th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Effective content moderation is imperative for fostering healthy and productive discussions in online domains. Despite the substantial efforts of moderators, the overwhelming nature of discussion flow can limit their effectiveness. However, it is not only trained moderators who intervene in online discussions to improve their quality. “Ordinary” users also act as moderators, actively intervening to correct information of other users’ posts, enhance arguments, and steer discussions back on course.This paper introduces the phenomenon of user moderation, documenting and releasing UMOD, the first dataset of comments in whichusers act as moderators. UMOD contains 1000 comment-reply pairs from the subreddit r/changemyview with crowdsourced annotations from a large annotator pool and with a fine-grained annotation schema targeting the functions of moderation, stylistic properties(aggressiveness, subjectivity, sentiment), constructiveness, as well as the individual perspectives of the annotators on the task. The releaseof UMOD is complemented by two analyses which focus on the constitutive features of constructiveness in user moderation and on thesources of annotator disagreements, given the high subjectivity of the task.

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Proceedings of the 18th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop
Neele Falk | Sara Papi | Mike Zhang
Proceedings of the 18th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop

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Stories and Personal Experiences in the COVID-19 Discourse
Neele Falk | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 2024 Joint International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC-COLING 2024)

Storytelling, i.e., the use of of anecdotes and personal experiences, plays a crucial role in everyday argumentation. This is particularly true for the highly controversial debates that spark in times of crisis - where the focus of the discussion is on heterogeneous aspects of everyday life. For individuals, stories can have a strong persuasive power; for a larger collective, stories can help decision-makers to develop strategies for addressing the challenges people are facing, especially in times of crisis. In this paper, we analyse the use of storytelling in the COVID-19 discourse. We carry out our analysis on three publicly available Reddit datasets, for a total of 367K comments. We automatically annotate the Reddit datasets by detecting spans containing storytelling and classifying them into: a) personal vs. general – is the story experienced by the speaker? b) argumentative function (Does the story clarify a problem, potentially consisting in harm to a specific group? Does it exemplify a solution to a problem, or does it establish the credibility of the speaker?), and c) topic. We then carry out an analysis which establishes the relevance of storytelling in the COVID discourse and further uncovers interactions between topics and types of stories associated to them.

2023

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StoryARG: a corpus of narratives and personal experiences in argumentative texts
Neele Falk | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Humans are storytellers, even in communication scenarios which are assumed to be more rationality-oriented, such as argumentation. Indeed, supporting arguments with narratives or personal experiences (henceforth, stories) is a very natural thing to do – and yet, this phenomenon is largely unexplored in computational argumentation. Which role do stories play in an argument? Do they make the argument more effective? What are their narrative properties? To address these questions, we collected and annotated StoryARG, a dataset sampled from well-established corpora in computational argumentation (ChangeMyView and RegulationRoom), and the Social Sciences (Europolis), as well as comments to New York Times articles. StoryARG contains 2451 textual spans annotated at two levels. At the argumentative level, we annotate the function of the story (e.g., clarification, disclosure of harm, search for a solution, establishing speaker’s authority), as well as its impact on the effectiveness of the argument and its emotional load. At the level of narrative properties, we annotate whether the story has a plot-like development, is factual or hypothetical, and who the protagonist is. What makes a story effective in an argument? Our analysis of the annotations in StoryARG uncover a positive impact on effectiveness for stories which illustrate a solution to a problem, and in general, annotator-specific preferences that we investigate with regression analysis.

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Node Placement in Argument Maps: Modeling Unidirectional Relations in High & Low-Resource Scenarios
Iman Jundi | Neele Falk | Eva Maria Vecchi | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Argument maps structure discourse into nodes in a tree with each node being an argument that supports or opposes its parent argument. This format is more comprehensible and less redundant compared to an unstructured one. Exploring those maps and maintaining their structure by placing new arguments under suitable parents is more challenging for users with huge maps that are typical in online discussions. To support those users, we introduce the task of node placement: suggesting candidate nodes as parents for a new contribution. We establish an upper-bound of human performance, and conduct experiments with models of various sizes and training strategies. We experiment with a selection of maps from Kialo, drawn from a heterogeneous set of domains. Based on an annotation study, we highlight the ambiguity of the task that makes it challenging for both humans and models. We examine the unidirectional relation between tree nodes and show that encoding a node into different embeddings for each of the parent and child cases improves performance. We further show the few-shot effectiveness of our approach.

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Bridging Argument Quality and Deliberative Quality Annotations with Adapters
Neele Falk | Gabriella Lapesa
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Assessing the quality of an argument is a complex, highly subjective task, influenced by heterogeneous factors (e.g., prior beliefs of the annotators, topic, domain, and application), and crucial for its impact in downstream tasks (e.g., argument retrieval or generation). Both the Argument Mining and the Social Science community have devoted plenty of attention to it, resulting in a wide variety of argument quality dimensions and a large number of annotated resources. This work aims at a better understanding of how the different aspects of argument quality relate to each other from a practical point of view. We employ adapter-fusion (Pfeiffer et al., 2021) as a multi-task learning framework which a) can improve the prediction of individual quality dimensions by injecting knowledge about related dimensions b) is efficient and modular and c) can serve as an analysis tool to investigate relations between different dimensions. We conduct experiments on 6 datasets and 20 quality dimensions. We find that the majority of the dimensions can be learned as a weighted combination of other quality aspects, and that for 8 dimensions adapter fusion improves quality prediction. Last, we show the benefits of this approach by improving the performance in an extrinsic, out-of-domain task: prediction of moderator interventions in a deliberative forum.

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NAP at SemEval-2023 Task 3: Is Less Really More? (Back-)Translation as Data Augmentation Strategies for Detecting Persuasion Techniques
Neele Falk | Annerose Eichel | Prisca Piccirilli
Proceedings of the 17th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval-2023)

Persuasion techniques detection in news in a multi-lingual setup is non-trivial and comes with challenges, including little training data. Our system successfully leverages (back-)translation as data augmentation strategies with multi-lingual transformer models for the task of detecting persuasion techniques. The automatic and human evaluation of our augmented data allows us to explore whether (back-)translation aid or hinder performance. Our in-depth analyses indicate that both data augmentation strategies boost performance; however, balancing human-produced and machine-generated data seems to be crucial.

2022

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Scaling up Discourse Quality Annotation for Political Science
Neele Falk | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

The empirical quantification of the quality of a contribution to a political discussion is at the heart of deliberative theory, the subdiscipline of political science which investigates decision-making in deliberative democracy. Existing annotation on deliberative quality is time-consuming and carried out by experts, typically resulting in small datasets which also suffer from strong class imbalance. Scaling up such annotations with automatic tools is desirable, but very challenging. We take up this challenge and explore different strategies to improve the prediction of deliberative quality dimensions (justification, common good, interactivity, respect) in a standard dataset. Our results show that simple data augmentation techniques successfully alleviate data imbalance. Classifiers based on linguistic features (textual complexity and sentiment/polarity) and classifiers integrating argument quality annotations (from the argument mining community in NLP) were consistently outperformed by transformer-based models, with or without data augmentation.

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Reports of personal experiences and stories in argumentation: datasets and analysis
Neele Falk | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Reports of personal experiences or stories can play a crucial role in argumentation, as they represent an immediate and (often) relatable way to back up one’s position with respect to a given topic. They are easy to understand and increase empathy: this makes them powerful in argumentation. The impact of personal reports and stories in argumentation has been studied in the Social Sciences, but it is still largely underexplored in NLP. Our work is the first step towards filling this gap: our goal is to develop robust classifiers to identify documents containing personal experiences and reports. The main challenge is the scarcity of annotated data: our solution is to leverage existing annotations to be able to scale-up the analysis. Our contribution is two-fold. First, we conduct a set of in-domain and cross-domain experiments involving three datasets (two from Argument Mining, one from the Social Sciences), modeling architectures, training setups and fine-tuning options tailored to the involved domains. We show that despite the differences among datasets and annotations, robust cross-domain classification is possible. Second, we employ linear regression for performance mining, identifying performance trends both for overall classification performance and individual classifier predictions.

2021

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Predicting Moderation of Deliberative Arguments: Is Argument Quality the Key?
Neele Falk | Iman Jundi | Eva Maria Vecchi | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Argument Mining

Human moderation is commonly employed in deliberative contexts (argumentation and discussion targeting a shared decision on an issue relevant to a group, e.g., citizens arguing on how to employ a shared budget). As the scale of discussion enlarges in online settings, the overall discussion quality risks to drop and moderation becomes more important to assist participants in having a cooperative and productive interaction. The scale also makes it more important to employ NLP methods for(semi-)automatic moderation, e.g. to prioritize when moderation is most needed. In this work, we make the first steps towards (semi-)automatic moderation by using state-of-the-art classification models to predict which posts require moderation, showing that while the task is undoubtedly difficult, performance is significantly above baseline. We further investigate whether argument quality is a key indicator of the need for moderation, showing that surprisingly, high quality arguments also trigger moderation. We make our code and data publicly available.

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Automatic Classification of Attributes in German Adjective-Noun Phrases
Neele Falk | Yana Strakatova | Eva Huber | Erhard Hinrichs
Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS)

Adjectives such as heavy (as in heavy rain) and windy (as in windy day) provide possible values for the attributes intensity and climate, respectively. The attributes themselves are not overtly realized and are in this sense implicit. While these attributes can be easily inferred by humans, their automatic classification poses a challenging task for computational models. We present the following contributions: (1) We gain new insights into the attribute selection task for German. More specifically, we develop computational models for this task that are able to generalize to unseen data. Moreover, we show that classification accuracy depends, inter alia, on the degree of polysemy of the lexemes involved, on the generalization potential of the training data and on the degree of semantic transparency of the adjective-noun pairs in question. (2) We provide the first resource for computational and linguistic experiments with German adjective-noun pairs that can be used for attribute selection and related tasks. In order to safeguard against unwelcome memorization effects, we present an automatic data augmentation method based on a lexical resource that can increase the size of the training data to a large extent.

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Towards Argument Mining for Social Good: A Survey
Eva Maria Vecchi | Neele Falk | Iman Jundi | Gabriella Lapesa
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (Volume 1: Long Papers)

This survey builds an interdisciplinary picture of Argument Mining (AM), with a strong focus on its potential to address issues related to Social and Political Science. More specifically, we focus on AM challenges related to its applications to social media and in the multilingual domain, and then proceed to the widely debated notion of argument quality. We propose a novel definition of argument quality which is integrated with that of deliberative quality from the Social Science literature. Under our definition, the quality of a contribution needs to be assessed at multiple levels: the contribution itself, its preceding context, and the consequential effect on the development of the upcoming discourse. The latter has not received the deserved attention within the community. We finally define an application of AM for Social Good: (semi-)automatic moderation, a highly integrative application which (a) represents a challenging testbed for the integrated notion of quality we advocate, (b) allows the empirical quantification of argument/deliberative quality to benefit from the developments in other NLP fields (i.e. hate speech detection, fact checking, debiasing), and (c) has a clearly beneficial potential at the level of its societal thanks to its real-world application (even if extremely ambitious).

2020

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All That Glitters is Not Gold: A Gold Standard of Adjective-Noun Collocations for German
Yana Strakatova | Neele Falk | Isabel Fuhrmann | Erhard Hinrichs | Daniela Rossmann
Proceedings of the Twelfth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference

In this paper we present the GerCo dataset of adjective-noun collocations for German, such as alter Freund ‘old friend’ and tiefe Liebe ‘deep love’. The annotation has been performed by experts based on the annotation scheme introduced in this paper. The resulting dataset contains 4,732 positive and negative instances of collocations and covers all the 16 semantic classes of adjectives as defined in the German wordnet GermaNet. The dataset can serve as a reliable empirical basis for comparing different theoretical frameworks concerned with collocations or as material for data-driven approaches to the studies of collocations including different machine learning experiments. This paper addresses the latter issue by using the GerCo dataset for evaluating different models on the task of automatic collocation identification. We compare lexical association measures with static and contextualized word embeddings. The experiments show that word embeddings outperform methods based on statistical association measures by a wide margin.