An elaborated model of social search


Evans, B. M.; Chi, E. H. An elaborated model of social search. Information Processing and Management. 2010 November; 46 (6): 656-678.


Search engine researchers typically depict search as the solitary activity of an individual searcher. In contrast, results from our critical-incident survey of 150 users on Amazons Mechanical Turk service suggest that social interactions play an important role throughout the search process. A second survey of also 150 users, focused instead on difficulties encountered during searches, suggests similar conclusions. These social interactions range from highly coordinated collaborations with shared goals to loosely coordinated collaborations in which only advice is sought. Our main contribution is that we have integrated models from previous work in sensemaking and information seeking behavior to present a canonical social model of user activities before, during, and after a search episode, suggesting where in the search process both explicitly and implicitly shared information may be valuable to individual searchers. We seek to situate collaboration in these search episodes in the context of our developed model for social search. We discuss factors that influence social interactions and content sharing during search activities. We also explore the relationship between social interactions, motivations, and query needs. Finally, we introduce preliminary findings from the second survey on difficult and failed search efforts, discussing how query needs and social interactions may differ in cases of search failures.

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