Learning to Rank Social Update Streams

Liangjie Hong, Ron Bekkerman, Joseph Adler, and Brian D. Davison

Full Paper (10 pages)
Official ACM published version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2348283.2348371
Author's version: PDF (488KB)

As online social media further integrates deeper into our lives, we spend more time consuming social update streams that come from our online connections. Although social update streams provide a tremendous opportunity for us to access information on-the-fly, we often complain about its relevance. Some of us are flooded with a steady stream of information and simply cannot process it in full. Ranking the incoming content becomes the only solution for the overwhelmed users. For some others, in contrast, the incoming information stream is pretty weak, and they have to actively search for relevant information which is quite tedious. For these users, augmenting their incoming content flow with relevant information from outside their first-degree network would be a viable solution. In that case, the problem of relevance becomes even more prominent.

In this paper, we start an open discussion on how to build effective systems for ranking social updates from a unique perspective of LinkedIn -- the largest professional network in the world. More specifically, we address this problem as an intersection of learning to rank, collaborative filtering, and clickthrough modeling, while leveraging ideas from information retrieval and recommender systems. We propose a novel probabilistic latent factor model with regressions on explicit features and compare it with a number of non-trivial baselines. In addition to demonstrating superior performance of our model, we shed some light on the nature of social updates on LinkedIn and how users interact with them, which might be applicable to social update streams in general.

In Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval, pages 651-660, Portland, OR, August 2012.

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Last modified: 14 September 2012
Brian D. Davison