Genre Classification of Websites Using Search Engine Snippets

Gupta, Suhit; Kaiser, Gail E.; Stolfo, Salvatore; Becker, Hila

Web pages often contain clutter (such as ads, unnecessary images and extraneous links) around the body of an article, which distracts a user from actual content. Automatic extraction of 'useful and relevant' content from web pages has many applications, including browsing on small cell phone and PDA screens, speech rendering for the visually impaired, and reducing noise for information retrieval systems. Prior work has led to the development of Crunch, a framework which employs various heuristics in the form of filters and filter settings for content extraction. Crunch allows users to tune these settings, essentially the thresholds for applying each filter. However, in order to reduce human involvement in selecting these heuristic settings, we have extended this work to utilize a website's classification, defined by its genre and physical layout. In particular, Crunch would then obtain the settings for a previously unknown website by automatically classifying it as sufficiently similar to a cluster of known websites with previously adjusted settings - which in practice produces better content extraction results than a single one-size-fits-all set of setting defaults. In this paper, we present our approach to clustering a large corpus of websites by their genre, utilizing the snippets generated by sending the website's domain name to search engines as well as the website's own text. We find that exploiting these snippets not only increased the frequency of function words that directly assist in detecting the genre of a website, but also allow for easier clustering of websites. We use existing techniques like Manhattan distance measure and Hierarchical clustering, with some modifications, to pre-classify websites into genres. Our clustering method does not require prior knowledge of the set of genres that websites fit into, but instead discovers these relationships among websites. Subsequently, we are able to classify newly encountered websites in linear-time, and then apply the corresponding filter settings, with no noticeable delay introduced for the content-extracting web proxy.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Department of Computer Science, Columbia University
Columbia University Computer Science Technical Reports, CUCS-004-05
Published Here
April 26, 2011