SearchBuddies: Bringing Search Engines into the Conversation

author: Brent Hecht, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Northwestern University
published: July 25, 2012,   recorded: June 2012,   views: 3980


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Although people receive trusted, personalized recommendations and auxiliary social benefits when they ask questions of their friends, using a search engine is often a more effective way to find an answer. Attempts to integrate social and algorithmic search have thus far focused on bringing social content into algorithmic search results. However, more of the benefits of social search can be preserved by reversing this approach and bringing algorithmic content into natural question-based conversations. To do this successfully, it is necessary to adapt search engine interaction to a social context. In this paper, we present SearchBuddies, a system that responds to Facebook status message questions with algorithmic search results. Via a three-month deployment of the system to 122 social network users, we explore how people responded to search content in a highly social environment. Our experience deploying SearchBuddies shows that a socially embedded search engine can successfully provide users with unique and highly relevant information in a social context and can be integrated into conversations around an information need. The deployment also illuminates specific challenges of embedding a search engine in a social environment and provides guidance toward solutions.

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