A computational approach to politeness with application to social factors

Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Moritz Sudhof, Dan Jurafsky, Jure Leskovec, Christopher Potts

Proceedings of ACL, 2013.

Nominated for the Best Paper Award


Talk slides

Fun: Check how polite your requests are using our Politeness Web App

Data and Code: ConvoKit   (legacy code: Stanford Politeness API, legacy data:  Stanford Politeness Corpus)

Related research:     

                                    Conversational Behavior

                                    Anti-Social Computing



                                             Politeness and status: successful and failed candidates before and after elections.



Editors that will eventually succeed (diamond marker) are significantly more polite than those that will fail (circle markers). Following the elections, successful editors become less polite while unsuccessful editors become more polite.



We propose a computational framework for identifying linguistic aspects of politeness. Our starting point is a new corpus of requests annotated for politeness, which we use to evaluate aspects of politeness theory and to uncover new interactions between politeness markers and context. These findings guide our construction of a classifier with domain-independent lexical and syntactic features operationalizing key components of politeness theory, such as indirection, deference, impersonalization and modality. Our classifier achieves close to human performance and is effective across domains.  We use our framework to study the relationship between politeness and social power, showing that polite Wikipedia editors are more likely to achieve high status through elections, but, once elevated, they become less polite.  We see a similar negative correlation between politeness and power on Stack Exchange, where users at the top of the reputation scale are less polite than those at the bottom.  Finally, we apply our classifier to a preliminary analysis of politeness variation by gender and community.




  author={Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil and Moritz Sudhof and Dan Jurafsky

  and Jure Leskovec and Christopher Potts},

  title={A computational approach to politeness with application to social factors},

  booktitle={Proceedings of ACL},