Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.
Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.
Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.
Open Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Prof. James Allan
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics | Computer Sciences | Databases and Information Systems | Other Political Science
Seeking information on a controversial topic is often a complex task. Alerting users about controversial search results can encourage critical literacy, promote healthy civic discourse and counteract the "filter bubble" effect, and therefore would be a useful feature in a search engine or browser extension. Additionally, presenting information to the user about the different stances or sides of the debate can help her navigate the landscape of search results beyond a simple "list of 10 links". This thesis has made strides in the emerging niche of controversy detection and analysis. The body of work in this thesis revolves around two themes: computational models of controversy, and controversies occurring in neighborhoods of topics. Our broad contributions are: (1) Presenting a theoretical framework for modeling controversy as contention among populations; (2) Constructing the first automated approach to detecting controversy on the web, using a KNN classifier that maps from the web to similar Wikipedia articles; and (3) Proposing a novel controversy detection in Wikipedia by employing a stacked model using a combination of link structure and similarity. We conclude this work by discussing the challenging technical, societal and ethical implications of this emerging research area and proposing avenues for future work.
Dori-Hacohen, Shiri, "Controversy Analysis and Detection" (2017). Doctoral Dissertations. 1084.