Exploring Latent Semantic Factors to Find Useful Product Reviews

Mukherjee, Subhabrata, Popat, Kashyap, Weikum, Gerhard

arXiv.org Machine Learning 

Online reviews provided by consumers are a valuable asset for e-Commerce platforms, influencing potential consumers in making purchasing decisions. However, these reviews are of varying quality, with the useful ones buried deep within a heap of non-informative reviews. In this work, we attempt to automatically identify review quality in terms of its helpfulness to the end consumers. In contrast to previous works in this domain exploiting a variety of syntactic and community-level features, we delve deep into the semantics of reviews as to what makes them useful, providing interpretable explanation for the same. We identify a set of consistency and semantic factors, all from the text, ratings, and timestamps of user-generated reviews, making our approach generalizable across all communities and domains. We explore review semantics in terms of several latent factors like the expertise of its author, his judgment about the fine-grained facets of the underlying product, and his writing style. These are cast into a Hidden Markov Model -- Latent Dirichlet Allocation (HMM-LDA) based model to jointly infer: (i) reviewer expertise, (ii) item facets, and (iii) review helpfulness. Large-scale experiments on five real-world datasets from Amazon show significant improvement over state-of-the-art baselines in predicting and ranking useful reviews.

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