Abstract

The huge amount of knowledge in web communities has motivated the research interests in threaded discussions. The dynamic nature of threaded discussions poses lots of challenging problems for computer scientists. Although techniques such as semantic models and structural models have been shown to be useful in a number of areas, they are inefficient in understanding threaded discussions due to three reasons: (I) as most of users read existing messages before posting, posts in a discussion thread are temporally dependent on the previous ones; It causes the semantics and structure to be coupled with each other in threaded discussions; (II) in online discussion threads, there are a lot of junk posts which are useless and may disturb content analysis; and (III) it is very hard to judge the quality of a post. In this paper, we propose a sparse coding-based model named SMSS to Simultaneously Model Semantics and Structure of threaded discussions. The model projects each post into a topic space, and approximates each post by a linear combination of previous posts in the same discussion thread. Meanwhile, the model also imposes two sparse constraints to force a sparse post reconstruction in the topic space and a sparse post approximation from previous posts. The sparse properties effectively take into account the characteristics of threaded discussions. Towards the above three problems, we demonstrate the competency of our model in three applications: reconstructing reply structure of threaded discussions, identifying junk posts, and finding experts in a given board/sub-board in web communities. Experimental results show encouraging performance of the proposed SMSS model in all these applications.