About ChatCoder

An initiative to protect families from cybercrime.

Project Description

Cyber-violence is increasing exponentially as social networking applications such as Instant Messaging, Facebook, and MySpace are developed, deployed, and reach increasingly younger users. These young users frequently fall victim to cyber-predators and cyber-bullies. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently funded a grant "Tracking Predators and Bullies Via Chat Log Transcripts" to support research into providing solutions for protecting children. Advances in both communicative theory and information retrieval technologies are required to accomplish the goals of this project. This website is designed to both provide technical support and data for the project, as well as keep interested readers informed about our progress.

Our preliminary work studied chat logs between convicted predators and adults posing as youth (pseudo-victims). We have developed a communicative theory of Internet predation based on a close communicative study of the dialog used by the predator, as well as a prototype software application, ChatCoder, that is used to assist in the analysis of chat transcripts and development of the codebook which is an essential piece of the communicative theory. This software continues to be updated and enhanced as the project progresses to ensure that the MCS researchers are able to perform their analysis in the most efficient manner.

In addition to developing a software program that protects children from cyber-predators and cyber-bullies, our project gives us the opportunity to make predator and bully chat data available to other researchers. Currently, there is very little labeled data available for this type of research; therefore, one of our most important tasks is the compilation of a set of labeled data that we will make available to the communications and information retrieval research communities.

People supporting ChatCoder

Principal Investigators

April Edwards

Dr. April C. Edwards earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Lehigh University, as well as MA an BA in mathematics. Dr. Edwards is currently holds a position as Professor of Cyber Science at the US Naval Academy. Dr. Edwards is an expert in machine learning technologies related to the analysis of textual data, and has co-authored written numerous articles that describe methods for determining the most critical values in the reduced dimensionality matrix, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). She has also authored many articles on using machine learning techniques to detect cyber predation and cyber bullying. Dr. Edwards began her academic career as a professor at Ursinus College and has served as department chair, associate dean, and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Interim Dean of the College at Ursinus. She also served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Elmhurst College. Dr. Edwards has served as PI or co-PI for grants in excess of $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation.

Lynne Edwards

Dr. Lynne Edwards is a Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA. She is the author of several publications, including “Victims, Villains, and Vixens: Teen girls and Internet Crime” in Girl Wide Web: Girls, the Internet, and the Negotiation of Identity. Sharon Mazzarella, editor. (Peter Lang Publishing, 2005), “Black Like Me: Value Commitment and Television Viewing Preferences of U.S. Black Teenage Girls in Black Marks: Minority Ethnic Audiences and Media" (Ashgate, 2001), “Choices and Voices: Deciding Between Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies.” in Communication Impact: Designing Research That Matters. Susanna Hornig Priest, editor. Lanham: (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), and “Slaying in Black and White: Kendra as Tragic Mulatta in Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in Fighting the Forces: Essays on the Meaning of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). Dr. Edwards co-edited a volume about the final two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television. (McFarland Publishers, 2008).


Dr. Brian D. Davison Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Lehigh University.

Research Assistants: Jennifer Bayzick, Elizabeth Chamberlain, Christine Dobisch, Andy Garron, Nicholas Hanford, Emerson Hawkins, Emma Jakubowski, Rosalie Kress, Amanda Leatherman, Elizabeth Lopez, Alexandria McBride, India McGee, Kristina Moore, Kelly Reynolds, T. Reynolds, Chris Rountree, Paloma Sonzogni, Pearl Steinberg, Lauren Tedesco, Brett Thom, William West, Zhenzhen Xue, Dawei (David) Yin.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 0916152, 1421896, and 1812380. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

ChatCoder is proudly supported by E2 Unlimited Technologies