Ranking comment sorting policies in online debates

Argument and Computation:1-21 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Online debates typically possess a large number of argumentative comments. Most readers who would like to see which comments are winning arguments often only read a part of the debate. Many platforms that host such debates allow for the comments to be sorted, say from the earliest to latest. How can argumentation theory be used to evaluate the effectiveness of such policies of sorting comments, in terms of the actually winning arguments displayed to a reader who may not have read the whole debate? We devise a pipeline that captures an online debate tree as a bipolar argumentation framework, which is sorted depending on the policy, giving a sequence of induced sub-BAFs representing how and how much of the debate has been read. Each sub-BAF has its own set of winning arguments, which can be quantitatively compared to the set of winning arguments of the whole BAF. We apply this pipeline to evaluate policies on Kialo debates, where it is shown that reading comments from most to least liked, on average, displays more winners than reading comments earliest first. Therefore, in Kialo, reading comments from most to least liked is on average more effective than reading from the earliest to the most recent.

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