Paul Röttger


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Temporal Adaptation of BERT and Performance on Downstream Document Classification: Insights from Social Media
Paul Röttger | Janet Pierrehumbert
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

Language use differs between domains and even within a domain, language use changes over time. For pre-trained language models like BERT, domain adaptation through continued pre-training has been shown to improve performance on in-domain downstream tasks. In this article, we investigate whether temporal adaptation can bring additional benefits. For this purpose, we introduce a corpus of social media comments sampled over three years. It contains unlabelled data for adaptation and evaluation on an upstream masked language modelling task as well as labelled data for fine-tuning and evaluation on a downstream document classification task. We find that temporality matters for both tasks: temporal adaptation improves upstream and temporal fine-tuning downstream task performance. Time-specific models generally perform better on past than on future test sets, which matches evidence on the bursty usage of topical words. However, adapting BERT to time and domain does not improve performance on the downstream task over only adapting to domain. Token-level analysis shows that temporal adaptation captures event-driven changes in language use in the downstream task, but not those changes that are actually relevant to task performance. Based on our findings, we discuss when temporal adaptation may be more effective.

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HateCheck: Functional Tests for Hate Speech Detection Models
Paul Röttger | Bertie Vidgen | Dong Nguyen | Zeerak Waseem | Helen Margetts | Janet Pierrehumbert
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)

Detecting online hate is a difficult task that even state-of-the-art models struggle with. Typically, hate speech detection models are evaluated by measuring their performance on held-out test data using metrics such as accuracy and F1 score. However, this approach makes it difficult to identify specific model weak points. It also risks overestimating generalisable model performance due to increasingly well-evidenced systematic gaps and biases in hate speech datasets. To enable more targeted diagnostic insights, we introduce HateCheck, a suite of functional tests for hate speech detection models. We specify 29 model functionalities motivated by a review of previous research and a series of interviews with civil society stakeholders. We craft test cases for each functionality and validate their quality through a structured annotation process. To illustrate HateCheck’s utility, we test near-state-of-the-art transformer models as well as two popular commercial models, revealing critical model weaknesses.