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User task understanding: a web search engine perspective

Peter Bailey, Liwei Chen, Scott Grosenick, Li Jiang, Yan Li, Paul Reinholdtsen, Charles Salada, Haidong Wang, and Sandy Wong


This talk describes research carried out at Microsoft Bing, regarding user behavior when interacting with search engines, and more generally, browsing the Web. Analysis is based on proprietary large-scale interaction log user data collected in mid 2009. A new action-topic task breakdown of user activity is presented, and compared to those of Broder 2002 and Russell et al 2009. Tasks are characterized by popularity, pivoted on search-specific and general Web activity. The Compare task is explored in more detail, and we detail a sub-task breakdown. Key takeaways about user behavior include: (1) information needs manifest as user tasks which often require multiple queries; (2) such tasks are complex, and may involve sub-tasks; (3) significant time is dedicated to these tasks; (4) user modeling and user task modeling is critical to true understanding of information interaction.


Publication typeMiscellaneous
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