November 30, 2015

Social Search Research: “SearchBuddies: Bringing Search Engines into the Conversation”

The following paper appears in the proceedings of ICWSM 2012 (International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM)) that began today in Dublin, Ireland.


SearchBuddies: Bringing Search Engines into the Conversation


Brent Hecht
Northwestern U.

Jaime Teevan
Microsoft Research

Meredith Ringel Morris
Microsoft Research

Dan Liebling
Microsoft Research


In Proceedings: ICWSM 2012
International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM)


[Emphasis ours] Although people receive trusted, personalized recommendations and auxiliary social benefits when they ask questions of their friends, using a search engine is often a more effective way to find an answer. Attempts to integrate social and algorithmic search have thus far focused on bringing social content into algorithmic search results. However, more of the benefits of social search can be preserved by reversing this approach and bringing algorithmic content into natural question-based conversations. To do this successfully, it is necessary to adapt search engine interaction to a social context. In this paper, we present SearchBuddies, a system that responds to Facebook status message questions with algorithmic search results. Via a three-month deployment of the system to 122 social network users, we explore how people responded to search content in a highly social environment. Our experience deploying SearchBuddies shows that a socially embedded search engine can successfully provide users with unique and highly relevant information in a social context and can be integrated into conversations around an information need. The deployment also illuminates specific challenges of embedding a search engine in a social environment and provides guidance toward solutions.

Direct to Full Text Paper (8 pages; PDF)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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