Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Predicting comment quality on news websites: Linguistic indicators and views from journalism professionals
by Scott, Edward Blake, Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology, 2014, 309; 3662359
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation sought to test the extent to which comments to news sites can be automatically evaluated for quality by using a text-analysis system. Journalists were interviewed to get their views on user comments in general and comment quality in particular. The data from these interviews was used to generate hypotheses about which linguistic metrics provided by Coh-Metrix, a web-based text-analysis system, might be most indicative of comment quality as described by journalists. Finally, a content analysis and close reading of a sample of news site comments was conducted in order to describe news site comments as a writing genre.

Results from the interviews indicated that comment length, comment syntax, comment cohesion, comment narrativity, and comment individuality were all indicative of comment quality. However, statistical analyses conducted using a sample of 246 comments failed to produce significant results for the linguistic metrics hypothesized to be indicative of quality. Alternatively, a "positive engagement score" scale was created and used to identify how "engaging" comments were; this scale showed to have a significant, though minor, positive relationship with the number of recommendations a comment received from readers. Finally, the genre analysis of the sample of news site comments revealed that comments in the sample share a communicative purpose of providing additional content related to the article under discussion, providing a practical value for journalists and other professionals by offering tips and fact-checking functions, and providing a space where readers can debate the article in question and begin to develop a sense of community.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bauer, Matthew
School: Illinois Institute of Technology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Journalism, Mass communications, Information science
Keywords: Coh-Metrix, Journalism, News Site Comments, Text-Analysis, Use Generated Content, Web 2.0
Publication Number: 3662359
ISBN: 978-1-321-55578-3
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