Optimizing The Selection of Strangers To Answer Questions in Social Media

Jalal Mahmud, Michelle Zhou, Nimrod Megiddo, Jeffrey Nichols, Clemens Drews

Millions of people express themselves on public social media, such as Twitter. Through their posts, these people may reveal themselves as potentially valuable sources of information. For example, real-time information about an event might be collected through asking questions of people who tweet about being at the event location. In this paper, we explore how to model and select users to target with questions so as to improve answering performance while managing the load on people who must be asked. We first present a feature-based model that leverages users exhibited social behavior, including the content of their tweets and social interactions, to characterize their willingness and readiness to respond to questions on Twitter. We then use the model to predict the likelihood for people to answer questions. To support real-world information collection applications, we present an optimization-based approach that selects a proper set of strangers to answer questions while achieving a set of application-dependent objectives, such as achieving a desired number of answers and minimizing the number of questions to be sent. Our cross-validation experiments using multiple real-world data sets demonstrate the effectiveness of our work.

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