Why do people use Google instead of Wikipedia search? Two obvious answers
come to mind: Google gives better results, and users are just used to using
Google 'cause it's useful.
So I set out to see how search on Wikipedia compares to Google for queries
we can recover from referrals from Google.
Disclaimers: we don't know what personalized results people got, whether
they liked the result, or what they intended to search for; all we have is
the wiki page they landed on. Also, results vary depending on which Google
you start from—which I didn't consider until after the experiments and
analysis were underway.
Summary: for about 60% of queries, Wikipedia search does fine. (And about a
quarter of all searches are exact matches for Wikipedia article titles.)
Trouble areas identified include: typos in the first two characters,
question marks, abbreviations and other ambiguous terms, quotes, questions,
formulaic queries, and non-Latin diacritics.
I have a list of about 20 suggestions for projects from small to enormous
that we could tackle to improve results (plus another plug for a Relevance
Best factoid: someone searched for *what is hummus* and ended up on the
wiki page for Hillary Clinton.
Full details here:
Software Engineer, Discovery