AbstractIn this paper, we describe our experience with collecting and creating an annotated corpus of multi-party online conversations in a chat-room environment. This effort is part of a larger project to develop computational models of social phenomena such as agenda control, influence, and leadership in on-line interactions. Such models will help capturing the dialogue dynamics that are essential for developing, among others, realistic human-machine dialogue systems, including autonomous virtual chat agents. In this paper we describe data collection method used and the characteristics of the initial dataset of English chat. We have devised a multi-tiered collection process in which the subjects start from simple, free-flowing conversations and progress towards more complex and structured interactions. In this paper, we report on the first two stages of this process, which were recently completed. The third, large-scale collection effort is currently being conducted. All English dialogue has been annotated at four levels: communication links, dialogue acts, local topics and meso-topics. Some details of these annotations will be discussed later in this paper, although a full description is impossible within the scope of this article.