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All that Agrees Is Not Gold: Evaluating Ground Truth Labels and Dialogue Content for Safety

Lora Aroyo
Chris Homan
Greg Serapio-García
Alex Taylor
(2023)

Abstract

Dialogue safety as a task is complex, in part because ‘safety’ entails a broad range of topics and concerns, such as toxicity, harm, legal concerns, health advice, etc. Who we ask to judge safety and who we ask to define safety may lead to differing conclusions. This is because definitions and understandings of safety can vary according to one’s identity, public opinion, and the interpretation of existing laws and regulations. In this study, we compare annotations from a diverse set of over 100 crowd raters to gold labels derived from trust and safety (T&S) experts in a dialogue safety task consisting of 350 human-chatbot conversations. We find patterns of disagreements rooted in dialogue structure, dialogue content, and rating rationale. In contrast to typical approaches which treat gold labels as ground truth, we propose alternative ways of interpreting gold data and incorporating crowd disagreement rather than mitigating it. We discuss the complexity of safety annotation as a task, what crowd and T&S labels each uniquely capture, and how to make determinations about when and how to rely on crowd or T&S labels.