Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Predicting page revisits: A matter of combining evidence

We have some results to share with you. In the past few months, we performed some experiments with the Web History Repository to find out how we can better support Web users in carrying out repetitive tasks. And we will present the results during the upcoming conferences Hypertext 2011 and the ICWE 2011 conference on Web Engineering. In this blog, we explain the results in a nutshell.

To a certain extent, Web users like you are pretty predictable, but when it comes to irregular activities (such as planning your holidays), it is not very useful to suggest your favorite news sites or forums: most likely, you want to return to this nice hotel booking site with good offers. But what was the URL again? And its name? Something with an A....?

We found out that it is still possible to help you to find this hotel booking site, by combining some pieces of evidence:
  • the list of pages that you visit most frequently and the pages that you visited recently are a good starting point, but they only help you in finding your usual sites
  • but if we also take into account your current page or query (for example, 'hotel booking') and the links that you typically follow from this page, our suggestions become much better
  • and our suggestions improve even more if we take the day of week into account (if you are like me, there's nothing better than looking for nice holiday destinations on a rainy Sunday)
How exactly we combined these pieces of evidence, and how good the predictions actually are, can be read in the conference papers.
  • Ricardo Kawase, George Papadakis, Eelco Herder and Wolfgang Nejdl. Beyond the Usual Suspects: Context-Aware Revisitation Support. Proc. Hypertext 2011 (pdf)
  • George Papadakis, Ricardo Kawase, Eelco Herder, Claudia NiederĂ©e A Layered Approach to Revisitation Prediction. Proc. ICWE 2011 Intl. Conf. Web Engineering, 2011 (pdf)
For those who prefer not to read academic literature with nasty formulas, I will share some more findings and observations soon.

Firefox 4 users: you can now contribute as well with the updated Web History Repository Extension.

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