Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit…or is it?

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit…or is it?

For a week now we have been listening to the chatter on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, by people discussing the three election candidates. With over 30,000 results we have analysed a random sample of this data (1350) for 2 different dates.  Specifically, we wanted to find out the sentiment of the chatter, what people really think about the candidates, so we could start comparing. We decided the best, and most interesting, sentiments to measure would be disappointment, sarcasm, positivity and factual

The Results!

Thursday 29th April

  • People were 50% more likely to be sarcastic about David Cameron and Gordon Brown than Nick Clegg.
  • Overall positive sentiment as a percentage was 3x higher for Nick Clegg and David Cameron than for Gordon Brown.
  • Overall disappointment as a percentage was 3x higher for Gordon Brown than Nick Clegg.
  • Overall disappointment as a percentage was 2x higher for David Cameron than Nick Clegg.
  • Nick Clegg had only 64% of the engagement levels that Gordon Brown and David Cameron had.

Tuesday 4th May

  • People are being 72% more sarcastic about Nick Clegg than last week, David Cameron stayed the same, Gordon Brown 4% less sarcasm.
  • Gordon Brown’s positive sentiment increased 3x putting him just above David Cameron and just below Nick Clegg (positive sentiment as a percentage of sample blogs 12%:11%:13% respectively).
  • Overall disappointment as a percentage decreased 10% for Gordon Brown and increased 40% for Nick Clegg.
  • Overall disappointment as a percentage is now only 5% higher for Gordon Brown than David Cameron
  • Nick Clegg’s engagement has increased by 19%, 26% less than Gordon Brown and 14% less than David Cameron.
  • There was a 16% increase in opinions on Gordon Brown (majority of which is increase in positive sentiment)

I am sure you will agree that there is a lot to be taken from these statistics, not just generally about how sarcastic we are as a nation (!) but also specifics. We found it very interesting for example, how little Nick Clegg was talked about comparatively. Over the past week Gordon Brown has had double the amount of results across all micro blogs compared to Nick Clegg! And more of Nick Clegg’s are factual and therefore not opinion based. So whilst it may appear that there is less disappointment and more positivity – is this just because less people are interested?

Pretty Pictures

As well as the pie charts, all the data is presented in a graph format so you can see the date and amount of blogs for each candidate. Here we can compare David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s graphs below to see not only what the sentiment is for a specified number of blogs, but also the date of the blogs enabling us to see if things changed on a specific date, or if there are any trends.  This is especially interesting to watch after public interviews or the TV debates to see how opinions have been influenced, and likewise could be used to watch changing sentiment after a product launch or press release.

disappointment sarcasm positivity factual

disappointment sarcasm positivity factual

Notice in Gordon Brown’s graph how positive sentiment has increased crossing with disappointment as it decreases after his speech:

disappointment sarcasm positivity factual

How we have achieved this

We have achieved this using our new application called Sententia, which enables you to filter any news, blogs and micro blogs for specific key words, for example “Gordon Brown” might be one search, or you can be more specific and have “Gordon Brown + economy”, whatever you want.  All this information is then fed back to you as a “game”, so that you are presented with individual blogs or articles and you then decide what you feel the sentiment is of that specific comment from a list of options that you have chosen.  You may want to measure positive vs. negative, humorous vs. serious, skeptical vs. converted, the skies the limit!

Playing the game

This is how you play the game, you read the comment (and click onto the link if you need to read more about it to determine the sentiment) and then click on the sentiment you believe this blog displays.  This result will automatically be displayed on the graph and pie chart and you will be given another comment to mark. You can view reports at any point in time and the data is pulled through randomly to enable you to do a fair sample without having to complete all of the results.

What’s the benefit?

The concept behind this application is that the english language can be hard to interpret due to our use of sarcasm, irony and humour. Therefore to give the fairest set of results possible and to show you results specific to your needs, this application requires human input.  By doing this it also enables you to search for any specifics you want because you are in control of the searches and the interpretations.

You can have a number of campaigns running in line with each other at once as well. For example, as well as having campaigns on the three candidates, we have been running campaigns specifically about some of their policies to see how people feel about them and about their policies separately.  You could use this feature to run campaigns about your products and about your competitors, or your online store compared to your shop, anything you want.


The information is out there, we believe the important step is interpretation and how this information can be used in the best possible way to fulfil all possible requirements. Whatever you want to measure online, Sententia enables you to be in control of what, who, how, and when – all from a game inspired by the Wii!

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