Arabic sentiment analysis – now 200x faster

A few months ago we began a task of migrating our Arabic sentiment analysis engine from a Python/Cython implementation to a Go implementation. The reason: speed. Go makes asynchronous programming and concurrency a cinch to use and that’s where we were able to realize some crazy speed boosts.

Our English language sentiment analysis engine can analyze about 500 documents / second. Our Arabic sentiment engine, in Python, did about 2 documents / second. As a result, we never allowed our customers to use our bulk sentiment API call with Arabic text because it would be too slow. Until now.

Now that our engine is in Go, we’ve opened up bulk scoring in Arabic for everyone. You can now score 100 Arabic documents per API call. We’ll gradually increase the limit as time goes on – we’re just testing the waters for now.

We believe our solution was already the most accurate Arabic sentiment engine available – now we’re quite sure we have the fastest one out there, too.

So go give it a shot and let us know what you think.

What’s the secret to great customer service? Don’t be a jerk.

One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with larger companies is the customer service experience. Whether it’s being caught in a game of customer service hot potato (“Please wait while we transfer you for the 8th time”) or being told “I’m sorry we can’t do that, company policy” it can permanently ruin a customer’s relationship with a company. While larger companies perhaps feel strict policies and procedures provide a consistent experience and therefore make their business easier to administer in the long run, Repustate has never adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service. Each customer is different, so let’s treat them that way.

Examples of good customer service

The one rule we do hold constant is this: Don’t be a jerk. It’s kind of our version of Google’s  (in)famous “Don’t be Evil” motto. Here’s a few examples of “Don’t be a jerk” in practice:

1) I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it for myself, but every so often, we get customers who sign up for Repustate’s priced plans, use the plan for the month, then contact us and say they’d like a refund for that month. Crazy, I know, and we would be entirely correct and fair if we said “Are you out of your mind? That’s like getting a bucket of chicken from KFC and returning a bucket full of bones and asking for your money back”. But you know what – we always refund their money. It’s just not worth our time to argue and go back and forth. Also, we’re hoping that our leniency and understanding will result in these customers coming back one day. In our experience, about 50% of the time they do come back at a later date as permanent, paying customers.

2) We often get students contacting us wanting to use Repustate for their research papers. The free plan we offer only provides 1000 API calls per month and often these students need hundreds of thousands of calls to complete their project. We always give students a free plan with unlimited usage for a few weeks on condition that they A) cite Repustate in the paper/project and B) send us the final paper or a link to the site. We like to think it keeps Repustate in good standing with the karma gods, but more seriously, these students will graduate one day, go work somewhere and might recommend Repustate to their employers.

3) Prompt email responses. Sounds like a no-brainer, but Repustate does not send out “Thank you for contacting Repustate” emails. I hate getting those because it gets your hopes up that someone replied, and then you check the contents, and you get sad 🙁 We just reply promptly, always same day, usually within the hour.

4) Honour your existing customers. We recently underwent some price plan changes and modified the account quotas. Now, we could have gone to all of our existing customers and said “Too bad, new quotas in place” but we didn’t. We continue to honour some of our older plans because that’s the right thing to do.

To sum up, just be nice, it’s not that hard. It’ll pay off in the long run, if not the short run as well.