Requirements knowledge acquisition from online user forums

Javed Ali Khan, Lin Liu, Lijie Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Online discussion forums can be used for reflecting on the overall user experience of a system. If a user forum is well-structured, it can be a valuable source of requirements-related information, which can potentially be accommodated in the requirements engineering process to enhance the current and future software. However, presently, there are limited approaches for extracting such requirements-related information from the relevant community forums. To fill this gap, this study proposes an automated approach, which automatically identifies requirements information using natural language processing and machine learning. For this purpose, the authors analysed 3319 user comments collected from the seven discussion topics in the Reddit forum. Then, using a content analysis approach, they studied how frequently end-users submit such information across each discussion topic. Also, they developed an automated approach that identifies key stakeholders, who frequently contribute his rationales in the forum discussion. Further, they employed different machine learning algorithms to classify user comments into rationale elements of different types. The authors' results show that online forums, such as Reddit, can be a rich source of requirements elicitation. Also, machine learning is a promising tool to detect user's rationale and identify different kinds of requirements modelling elements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-253
Number of pages12
JournalIET Software
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


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