A fabulous FactHack for Full Fact

Last week we ran a hackday for Full Fact, hosted by Facebook in their London office. We had planned to gather a room full of search experts from our London Lucene/Solr Meetup and around twenty people attended from a range of companies including Bloomberg, Alfresco and the European Bioinformatics Institute, including a number of Lucene/Solr committers.

Mevan Babakar of Full Fact has already written a detailed review of the day, but to summarise we worked on three areas:

  • Building a web service around our Luwak stored query engine, to give it an easy-to-use API. We now have an early version of this which allows Full Fact to check claims they have previously fact checked against a stream of incoming data (e.g. subtitles or transcripts of political events).
  • Creating a way to extract numbers from text and turn them into a consistent form (e.g. ‘eleven percent’, ‘11%’, ‘0.11’) so that we can use range queries more easily – Derek Jones’ team researched existing solutions and he has blogged about what they achieved.
  • Investigating how to use natural language processing to identify parts of speech and tag them in a Lucene index using synonyms and token stacking, to allow for queries such as ‘<noun> is rising’ to match text like ‘crime is rising’ – the team forked Lucene/Solr to experiment with this.

We’re hoping to build on these achievements to continue to support Full Fact as they develop open source automated fact checking tools for both their own operations and for other fact checking organisations across the world (there were fact checkers from Argentina and Africa attending to give us an international perspective). Our thanks to all of those who contributed.

I’ve also introduced Full Fact to many others within the search and text analytics community and we would welcome further contributions from anyone who can lend their expertise and time – get in touch if you can help. This is only the beginning!

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