Evaluating Web Archive Search Systems

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Abstract

The information published on the web, a representation of our collective memory, is rapidly vanishing. At least 77 web archives have been developed to cope with the web’s transience problem, but despite their technology having achieved a good maturity level, the retrieval effectiveness of the search services they provide still presents unsatisfactory results. In this work, we propose an evaluation methodology for web archive search systems based on a list of requirements compiled from previous characterizations of web archives and their users. The methodology includes the design of a test collection and the selection of evaluation measures to support realistic and reproducible experiments. The test collection enabled, for the first time, to measure the effectiveness of state-of-the-art IR technology employed in web archives. Results confirm the poor quality of search results retrieved with such technology. However, we show how to combine temporal features, along with the regular topical features, to improve the search effectiveness on web archives. The test collection is available to the research community.