Probabilistic Graphical Models for Credibility Analysis in Evolving Online Communities

One of the major hurdles preventing the full exploitation of information from online communities is the widespread concern regarding the quality and credibility of user-contributed content. Prior works in this domain operate on a static snapshot of the community, making strong assumptions about the structure of the data (e.g., relational tables), or consider only shallow features for text classification.

To address the above limitations, we propose probabilistic graphical models that can leverage the joint interplay between multiple factors in online communities --- like user interactions, community dynamics, and textual content --- to automatically assess the credibility of user-contributed online content, and the expertise of users and their evolution with user-interpretable explanation. To this end, we devise new models based on Conditional Random Fields for different settings like incorporating partial expert knowledge for semi-supervised learning, and handling discrete labels as well as numeric ratings for fine-grained analysis. This enables applications such as extracting reliable side-effects of drugs from user-contributed posts in healthforums, and identifying credible content in news communities.

Online communities are dynamic, as users join and leave, adapt to evolving trends, and mature over time. To capture this dynamics, we propose generative models based on Hidden Markov Model, Latent Dirichlet Allocation, and Brownian Motion to trace the continuous evolution of user expertise and their language model over time. This allows us to identify expert users and credible content jointly over time, improving state-of-the-art recommender systems by explicitly considering the maturity of users. This also enables applications such as identifying helpful product reviews, and detecting fake and anomalous reviews with limited information.


  • Subhabrata Mukherjee.
    Probabilistic Graphical Models for Credibility Analysis in Evolving Online Communities.
    Ph.D. Dissertation. 2017.