A Practical Guide for the Effective Evaluation of Twitter User Geolocation

Ahmed Mourad, Falk Scholer, Walid Magdy, Mark Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geolocating Twitter users---the task of identifying their home locations---serves a wide range of community and business applications such as managing natural crises, journalism, and public health. Many approaches have been proposed for automatically geolocating users based on their tweets; at the same time, various evaluation metrics have been proposed to measure the effectiveness of these approaches, making it challenging to understand which of these metrics is the most suitable for this task. In this paper, we propose a guide for a standardized evaluation of Twitter user geolocation by analyzing fifteen models and two baselines in a controlled experimental setting. Models are evaluated using ten metrics over four geographic granularities. We use rank correlations to assess the effectiveness of these metrics. Our results demonstrate that the choice of effectiveness metric can have a substantial impact on the conclusions drawn from a geolocation system experiment, potentially leading experimenters to contradictory results about relative effectiveness. We show that for general evaluations, a range of performance metrics should be reported, to ensure that a complete picture of system effectiveness is conveyed. Given the global geographic coverage of this task, we specifically recommend evaluation at micro versus macro levels to measure the impact of the bias in distribution over locations. Although a lot of complex geolocation algorithms have been applied in recent years, a majority class baseline is still competitive at coarse geographic granularity. We propose a suite of statistical analysis tests, based on the employed metric, to ensure that the results are not coincidental.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages23
JournalACM Transactions on Social Computing (TSC)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2019


  • General and reference
  • Evaluation
  • Twitter
  • user geolocation
  • effective evaluation
  • statistical analysis


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