A Preliminary Investigation into Sentiment Analysis of Informal Political Discourse

Tony Mullen, Robert Malouf

With the rise of weblogs and the increasing tendency of online publications to turn to message-board style reader feedback venues, informal political discourse is becoming an important feature of the intellectual landscape of the Internet, creating a challenging and worthwhile area for experimentation in techniques for sentiment analysis. We describe preliminary statistical tests on a new dataset of political discussion group postings which indicate that posts made in direct response to other posts in a thread have a strong tendency to represent an opposing political viewpoint to the original post. We conclude that traditional text classification methods will be inadequate to the task of sentiment analysis in this domain, and that progress is to be made by exploiting information about how posters interact with each other.

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