Generating Labels from Clicks

The ranking function used by search engines to order results is learned from labeled training data. Each training point is a (query, URL) pair that is labeled by a human judge who assigns a score of Perfect, Excellent, etc., depending on how well the URL matches the query. In this paper, we study whether clicks can be used to automatically generate good labels. Intuitively, documents that are clicked (resp., skipped) in aggregate can indicate relevance (resp., lack of relevance). We give a novel way of transforming clicks into weighted, directed graphs inspired by eye-tracking studies and then devise an objective function for finding cuts in these graphs that induce a good labeling. In its full generality, the problem is NP-hard, but we show that, in the case of two labels, an optimum labeling can be found in linear time. For the more general case, we propose heuristic solutions. Experiments on real click logs show that clickbased labels align with the opinion of a panel of judges, especially as the consensus of the panel grows stronger.

PDF file

In  International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM)

Publisher  ACM
Copyright © 2009 by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept, ACM Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or The definitive version of this paper can be found at ACM’s Digital Library --


> Publications > Generating Labels from Clicks