Paul Röttger

Also published as: Paul Rottger


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Two Contrasting Data Annotation Paradigms for Subjective NLP Tasks
Paul Rottger | Bertie Vidgen | Dirk Hovy | Janet Pierrehumbert
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Labelled data is the foundation of most natural language processing tasks. However, labelling data is difficult and there often are diverse valid beliefs about what the correct data labels should be. So far, dataset creators have acknowledged annotator subjectivity, but rarely actively managed it in the annotation process. This has led to partly-subjective datasets that fail to serve a clear downstream use. To address this issue, we propose two contrasting paradigms for data annotation. The descriptive paradigm encourages annotator subjectivity, whereas the prescriptive paradigm discourages it. Descriptive annotation allows for the surveying and modelling of different beliefs, whereas prescriptive annotation enables the training of models that consistently apply one belief. We discuss benefits and challenges in implementing both paradigms, and argue that dataset creators should explicitly aim for one or the other to facilitate the intended use of their dataset. Lastly, we conduct an annotation experiment using hate speech data that illustrates the contrast between the two paradigms.

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Hatemoji: A Test Suite and Adversarially-Generated Dataset for Benchmarking and Detecting Emoji-Based Hate
Hannah Kirk | Bertie Vidgen | Paul Rottger | Tristan Thrush | Scott Hale
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Detecting online hate is a complex task, and low-performing models have harmful consequences when used for sensitive applications such as content moderation. Emoji-based hate is an emerging challenge for automated detection. We present HatemojiCheck, a test suite of 3,930 short-form statements that allows us to evaluate performance on hateful language expressed with emoji. Using the test suite, we expose weaknesses in existing hate detection models. To address these weaknesses, we create the HatemojiBuild dataset using a human-and-model-in-the-loop approach. Models built with these 5,912 adversarial examples perform substantially better at detecting emoji-based hate, while retaining strong performance on text-only hate. Both HatemojiCheck and HatemojiBuild are made publicly available.

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Data-Efficient Strategies for Expanding Hate Speech Detection into Under-Resourced Languages
Paul Röttger | Debora Nozza | Federico Bianchi | Dirk Hovy
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Hate speech is a global phenomenon, but most hate speech datasets so far focus on English-language content. This hinders the development of more effective hate speech detection models in hundreds of languages spoken by billions across the world. More data is needed, but annotating hateful content is expensive, time-consuming and potentially harmful to annotators. To mitigate these issues, we explore data-efficient strategies for expanding hate speech detection into under-resourced languages. In a series of experiments with mono- and multilingual models across five non-English languages, we find that 1) a small amount of target-language fine-tuning data is needed to achieve strong performance, 2) the benefits of using more such data decrease exponentially, and 3) initial fine-tuning on readily-available English data can partially substitute target-language data and improve model generalisability. Based on these findings, we formulate actionable recommendations for hate speech detection in low-resource language settings.

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Multilingual HateCheck: Functional Tests for Multilingual Hate Speech Detection Models
Paul Röttger | Haitham Seelawi | Debora Nozza | Zeerak Talat | Bertie Vidgen
Proceedings of the Sixth Workshop on Online Abuse and Harms (WOAH)

Hate speech detection models are typically evaluated on held-out test sets. However, this risks painting an incomplete and potentially misleading picture of model performance because of increasingly well-documented systematic gaps and biases in hate speech datasets. To enable more targeted diagnostic insights, recent research has thus introduced functional tests for hate speech detection models. However, these tests currently only exist for English-language content, which means that they cannot support the development of more effective models in other languages spoken by billions across the world. To help address this issue, we introduce Multilingual HateCheck (MHC), a suite of functional tests for multilingual hate speech detection models. MHC covers 34 functionalities across ten languages, which is more languages than any other hate speech dataset. To illustrate MHC’s utility, we train and test a high-performing multilingual hate speech detection model, and reveal critical model weaknesses for monolingual and cross-lingual applications.


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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.