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Eric Gilbert earns 2024 Test of Time Award from ICWSM

International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media Test of Time Award. Headshot of Eric Gilbert, associate professor. UMSI logo.

Friday, 06/07/2024

University of Michigan School of Information associate professor Eric Gilbert has earned a 2024 Test of Time Award from the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. The award recognizes papers published ten or more years ago that have had a meaningful impact on the computational social science field.

“I’m super honored to receive this award,” Gilbert says. “It’s meaningful to me because so many of my heroes have earned them, and I think it speaks to the lasting impact of the research we’ve done.” 

Gilbert’s paper, “VADER: A Parsimonious Rule-based Model for Sentiment Analysis of Social Media Text,” was co-authored by C.J. Hutto at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The paper presents VADER, a toolkit for analyzing social media sentiment. Through the years, the toolkit has been used by hundreds of researchers and students to analyze social media feeds, newspapers and anything text related. 

Gilbert says VADER has received attention because it is open source, flexible and easy to use. Anyone can access the source code for VADER and alter it for their research. 

“It was designed to be flexible,” Gilbert says. “And it's not artificial intelligence. It’s basically code that uses five rules and then a database of crowdsourced judgments around how positive or negative something is and then it just adds it up.” 

The fact that it’s not AI and is so simplistic is what speaks to the relevancy of Gilbert’s tool and paper. 

“Even at the time we released VADER, this was a pretty simplistic approach,” Gilbert says. “But in comparison to what's being done now with language learning models and deep learning, it's remarkably simple.

“Maybe you just want a very simple, clean, flexible thing to quickly analyze something.”

 Eric Gilbert is a sociotechnologist with a research focus on building and studying social computing systems and helping prevent online disinformation and toxicity. He joined the faculty at UMSI in 2017. Gilbert was previously awarded a 2022 Mercury Project grant to fight health disinformation online and a 2016 NSF CAREER Award. He is a 2023 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) distinguished member.


The International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) is a forum for researchers from multiple disciplines to come together to share knowledge, discuss ideas, exchange information, and learn about cutting-edge research in diverse fields with the common theme of online social media. This overall theme includes research in new perspectives in social theories, as well as computational algorithms for analyzing social media. ICWSM is a singularly fitting venue for research that blends social science and computational approaches to answer important and challenging questions about human social behavior through social media while advancing computational tools for vast and unstructured data.


Eric Gilbert is a John Derby Evans Endowed Professor of Information, Associate Professor of Information at the School of Information and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the College of Engineering. Check out more research from Eric Gilbert by visiting his UMSI faculty profile and subscribing to our free research roundup newsletter


— Noor Hindi, UMSI public relations specialist