Discovering, explaining and summarizing controversial discussions in community Q&A sites

Xiaoxue Ren, Zhenchang Xing, Xin Xia, Guoqiang Li, Jianling Sun

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Developers often look for solutions to programming problems in community Q&A sites like Stack Overflow. Due to the crowdsourcing nature of these Q&A sites, many user-provided answers are wrong, less optimal or out-of-date. Relying on community-curated quality indicators (e.g., accepted answer, answer vote) cannot reliably identify these answer problems. Such problematic answers are often criticized by other users. However, these critiques are not readily discoverable when reading the posts. In this paper, we consider the answers being criticized and their critique posts as controversial discussions in community Q&A sites. To help developers notice such controversial discussions and make more informed choices of appropriate solutions, we design an automatic open information extraction approach for systematically discovering and summarizing the controversies in Stack Overflow and exploiting official API documentation to assist the understanding of the discovered controversies. We apply our approach to millions of Java/android-tagged Stack overflow questions and answers and discover a large scale of controversial discussions in Stack Overflow. Our manual evaluation confirms that the extracted controversy information is of high accuracy. A user study with 18 developers demonstrates the usefulness of our generated controversy summaries in helping developers avoid the controversial answers and choose more appropriate solutions to programming questions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2019 34th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Automated Software Engineering, ASE 2019
EditorsJulia Lawall, Darko Marinov
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781728125084
ISBN (Print)9781728125091
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAutomated Software Engineering Conference 2019 - San Diego, United States of America
Duration: 10 Nov 201915 Nov 2019
Conference number: 34th (Conference website) (Proceedings)


ConferenceAutomated Software Engineering Conference 2019
Abbreviated titleASE 2019
CountryUnited States of America
CitySan Diego
Internet address


  • Controversial discussion
  • Open information extraction
  • Sentence embedding
  • Stack Overflow

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