Tracing Linguistic Markers of Influence in a Large Online Organisation

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Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, July .


Social science and psycholinguistic research have shown that power and status affect how people use language in a range of domains. Here, we investigate a similar question in a large, distributed, consensus-driven community with little traditional power hierarchy – the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a collaborative organisation that designs internet standards. Our analysis based on lexical categories (LIWC) and BERT, shows that participants’ levels of influence can be predicted from their email text, and identify key linguistic differences (e.g., certain LIWC categories, such as “WE” are positively correlated with high-influence). We also identify the differences in language use for the same person before and after becoming influential.

Download: khare2023tracing.pdf