The power of comments: fostering social interactions in microblog networks

Tianyi Wang, Yang Chen, Yi Wang, Bolun Wang, Gang Wang, Xing Li, Haitao Zheng, Ben Y. Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Today’s ubiquitous online social networks serve multiple purposes, including social communication (Facebook, Renren), and news dissemination (Twitter). But how does a social network’s design define its functionality? Answering this would need social network providers to take a proactive role in defining and guiding user behavior. In this paper, we first take a step to answer this question with a data-driven approach, through measurement and analysis of the Sina Weibo microblogging service. Often compared to Twitter because of its format,Weibo is interesting for our analysis because it serves as a social communication tool and a platform for news dissemination, too. While similar to Twitter in functionality, Weibo provides a distinguishing feature, comments, allowing users to form threaded conversations around a single tweet. Our study focuses on this feature, and how it contributes to interactions and improves social engagement.We use analysis of comment interactions to uncover their role in social interactivity, and use comment graphs to demonstrate the structure of Weibo users interactions. Finally, we present a case study that shows the impact of comments in malicious user detection, a key application on microblogging systems. That is, using properties of comments significantly improves the accuracy in both modeling Received May 20, 2015; accepted October 29, 2015 E-mail: and detection of malicious users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-907
Number of pages19
JournalFrontiers of Computer Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • comments
  • microblogs
  • social and interaction graph
  • user behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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