Although chat-oriented dialogue systems have been around for many years (almost fifty years indeed, if we consider Weizenbaum's Eliza system as the starting milestone), they have been recently gaining a lot of popularity in both research and commercial arenas. From the commercial stand point, chat-oriented dialogue seems to be providing an excellent means to engage users for entertainment purposes, as well as to give a more human-like appearance to established vertical goal-oriented dialogue systems.
From the research perspective, on the other hand, this kind of systems poses interesting challenges and problems to the research community. The main objective of the WOCHAT workshops and special session series is to bring together researchers working on problems related to chat-oriented dialogue for promoting discussion and knowledge sharing about the state-of-the-art and novel techniques in this field, as well as to coordinate a collaborative effort to collect/generate data, resources and evaluation protocols for future research in this area.
The WOCHAT workshop series also accomodates a Shared Task on Data Collection and Annotation aiming at generating resources that can be made publicly availabe to the research community for further research and experimentation. In this shared task, participants are required to generate human-machine and human-human dialogues, as well as to produce turn-level annotations on them. Human-machine dialogues are generated by using different online and offline chat engines, and annotations are generated following some basic provided guidelines.