City University of Hong Kong
The Australian National University
The core of the Web is a hyperlink navigation system collaboratively set up by web- masters to help users find desired websites. But does this system really work as expected? We show that the answer seems to be negative: there is a substantial mismatch between hyperlinks and the pathways that users actually take. A closer look at empirical surfing activities reveals the reason of the mismatch: webmasters try to build a global virtual world without geographical or cultural boundaries, but users in fact prefer to navigate within more fragmented, language-based groups of websites. We call this type of behavior “preferential navigation” and find that it is driven by “local” search engines.
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Note: When we downloaded this afternoon pages 11-12 were not included in the PDF.