Monday, July 25, 2005

My hall of frustration

Why QTSaver?
- In order to reduce search engine frustration.

Why frustration?
- Because we want to find information and we can not find it. In our imagination we translate our failure in survival terms:
I will not finish my term paper
so they will kick me out of school
so I will never find a decent job
so I will never find a spouse
so I will never have kids…

That's why we get so emotional about not finding…

So I started collecting paragraphs that describe search engine frustration. If you stumble on an interesting paragraph please send it to me as a comment and I'll add it to my hall of frustration.

1. I read on that

A survey for Realnames reports that 44% of users are frustrated by navigation
and search engine use… The completeness of the index is not the only factor in
the quality of search results. "Junk results" often wash out any results that a
user is interested in.

If you're searching for something that can be sold online, Google's top
results skew very heavily toward stores, and away from general information. Search for flowers," and more than 90 percent of the top results are online florists. If you're
doing research on tulips, or want to learn gardening tips, or basically want to know anything about flowers that doesn't involve purchasing them online, you
have to wade through a sea of florists to find what you're looking for. The same goes for searching for specific products: Type in the make and model of a new
DVD player, and you'll get dozens of online electronic stores in the top results, all of them eager to sell you the item. But you have to burrow through the results to
find an impartial product review that doesn't appear in an online catalog.

What happened? The early search services understood what web search was about.
They offered plain functionality and the visitors apparently liked it. How else
could the first generation search engines evolve to become the most popular
sites on the web? But at a certain moment somebody decided to turn these fine
services into jungle-portals with a declining search box surrounded by numerous
links, advertisements, banners and - most of times - useless information… at the
end of the day their visitors got frustrated, left and stayed away. People
realized that simply clicking through to all sorts of sites - with information
they were not looking for - was a waste of time. New gadgets are nice for a
while, but at the time you start wondering why they tend to end up in the
garbage bucket… The demanding market needs simplicity because it is still not
used to selecting relevant information from an overwhelming source no one could
have dreamed of ten years ago… If you for example use Google to find "golf
courses in Turkey" you will be amazed to find this opinion page in the first 5
results. Ok, this page contains the words you were looking for, but the content
is entirely useless for golfers. Try Alltheweb and you get similar results.
These simple examples show that high-end search engines are still not able to
distinguish between relevant and irrelevant webpages. Therefore we believe that
additional algorithms and services like the one offered by Vivisimo are highly
required to work on a more friendly and better accessible medium.

The typical search results therefore leave a lot of work to be done by the
searcher, who must wend their way through the results, clicking on and exploring
a number of documents before finding exactly what they seek.

If you send email, you expect email to get there, and there's no mystery," he
said. search is much more difficult, but you still expect things to happen, and
we're not there yet. Obviously search is not the same as email -- it's much much
more difficult. We're still far from satisfying most users most of the time. We
want to remove the frustration. We want to make it more intuitive...

A search engine is often the first method used to find a
page, and yet, most users suffer frustration and failure. More still are put off
by the complexity of the search engine, and the confusing manner in which the
results are displayed".

Looking for accurate information online is like searching library
stacks without a card catalog. The Net has become such a barrage of useless
information that unless you've got a pretty solid idea of where you want to go,
you might as well stick to using your library card. Major search engines spit
out thousands of replies to every request, often with no relation to the topic

Searching for airline rates for a trip to Ireland proves the futility of online
transactions. An initial search through Alta Vista, one of several commercial
search engines available, yields an avalanche of nothing. Using the keywords
"airline," "fares" and "Ireland," Alta Vista provides 47,930 sites from which to
choose. The first 20 hits displayed are a scrambled mess of discount airline
ticket brokers whose fares are either outdated or inaccessible. One site is
listed five times within the first 20 hits — and the information is still
unhelpful. The amount of fruitless data has many would-be Netheads giving up.
Though a recent study by FIND/SVP, a New York-based research and consulting
firm, indicated that over 20 million Americans now view the Internet as
"indispensable," it also found that another 9.3 million have tried the Net and
abandoned it in frustration. Last year the number of computers purchased finally
topped the number of televisions sold. But despite the boost, only 40 percent of
American homes have personal computers, while 98 percent have televisions. Is it
any wonder? If television programs swapped stations every time they were turned
on, you'd ditch your Magnavox, too".

Despite the millions of dollars invested in search engine technology by
companies all over the world, web searching is still a largely frustrating,
imprecise process".

A survey published by FIND/SVP in June 2004 found that search engines
frustrate 71% of business executives. It also found that staff time wasted due
to poor results from search engines cost American businesses US$31 billion a

Search engines stink. These databases that are supposed to help us
find what we want on the Web are failing to do the job. If you've ever tried to
find information using Altavista or one of the other dozen or so big search
engines you've no doubt felt the frustration. Your search results swamp you with
a tide of irrelevant results and don't give you what you want. Search engines
claim their results are better than ever. They've developed defenses against Web
sites that attempt to "spam" the index by loading a Web page with irrelevant
terms. Furthermore, they say many irrelevant results can be eliminated if you
adopt advanced search techniques that use Boolean logic to fine-tune your search
request. For example, "blue chip" might return information on poker chips. But a
search for "blue chip and stocks" would be more likely to return information
about investments. But that solves just part of the problem. There are other
reasons search engines don't work… The current state of search engines can be
compared to a phone book which is updated irregularly, is biased toward listing
more popular information, and has most of the pages ripped out… At the heart of
the problem is that search engines don't make money from searches. The user of
the service pays nothing, so the engine attempts to make money by selling
advertising on the site… Offering you a good search service could reduce
stickiness. If you find what you seek on the first attempt, you'll be off to
visit the new site.

Users can only get very small proportions of the information they want.
Moreover, the poor interface design in many search engines hinders the full use of their advanced functions. And the search results are often very inaccurate and irrelevant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What If This Could All Happen Automatically,
with a simple push of a button.....