Direct Answers for Search Queries in the Long Tail

Web search engines now offer more than ranked results. Queries on topics like weather, definitions, and movies may return inline results called answers that can resolve a searcher’s information need without any additional interaction. Despite the usefulness of answers, they are limited to popular needs because each answer type is manually authored. To extend the reach of answers to thousands of new information needs, we introduce Tail Answers: a large collection of direct answers that are unpopular individually, but together address a large proportion of search traffic. These answers cover long-tail needs such as the average body temperature for a dog, substitutes for molasses, and the keyboard shortcut for a right-click. We introduce a combination of search log mining and paid crowdsourcing techniques to create Tail Answers. A user study with 361 participants suggests that Tail Answers significantly improved users’ subjective ratings of search quality and their ability to solve needs without clicking through to a result. Our findings suggest that search engines can be extended to directly respond to a large new class of queries.

In  Proc. CHI 2012

Publisher  ACM
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