User Behavior in Asynchronous Slow Search

Ryan Burton, Kevyn Collins-Thompson
2016 Proceedings of the 39th International ACM SIGIR conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval - SIGIR '16  
Conventional Web search is predicated on returning results to users as quickly as possible. However, for some search tasks, users have reported a willingness to wait for the perfect set of results. In this work, we present the first study to analyze users' willingness to wait and their search success, when given a Web search system that embodies characteristics of slow search, where speed can be traded for an improvement in quality. We conducted a between-subjects user study involving tasks
more » ... required multiple queries to complete, providing a Web search system that gave users the option to additionally issue asynchronous queries for which results improve in relevance over time as users continued working. We analyze the resulting survey results and interaction log data to investigate how users spent their time while waiting, and how behavior and search outcomes changes when users are given the option of using a system with asynchronous slow search capabilities. We find that when given a slow search system, users are able to perceive the improvement in quality over time, and find tasks to be easier compared to a baseline conventional Web search system. Additionally, we find that users continue to issue their own queries and examine additional documents while the slow search queries are processed in the background, and use the slow search feature more effectively as they gain exposure to its behavior across tasks. Our study significantly advances our understanding of the benefits and tradeoffs involved in providing slow search scenarios for Web search. Keywords Search behavior; interactive information retrieval; user interfaces; slow search
doi:10.1145/2911451.2911541 dblp:conf/sigir/BurtonC16 fatcat:qbqoxxc6dnecldpcuktp3dil6a