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Beyond entities: promoting explorative search with bundles


Search engines are increasingly going beyond the pure relevance of search results to entertain users with information items that are interesting and even surprising, albeit sometimes not fully related to their search intent. In this paper, we study this serendipitous search space in the context of entity search, which has recently emerged as a powerful paradigm for building semantically rich answers. Specifically, our work proposes to enhance an explorative search system that represents a large sample of Yahoo Answers as an entity network, with a result structuring that goes beyond ranked lists, using composite entity retrieval, which requires a bundling of the results. We propose and compare six bundling methods, which exploit topical categories, entity specializations, and sentiment, and go beyond simple entity clustering. Two large-scale crowd-sourced studies show that users find a bundled organization—especially based on the topical categories of the query entity—to be better at revealing the most useful results, as well as at organizing the results, helping to discover novel and interesting information, and promoting exploration. Finally, a third study of 30 simulated search tasks reveals the bundled search experience to be less frustrating and more rewarding, with more users willing to recommend it to others.

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  4. A demo of the tool is available at





  9. The value of the threshold was chosen heuristically.






  15. We do not discuss this aspect of the tool as it is outside the scope of this paper.



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We are very thankful to Byungkyu Kang for his help in designing the explorative-search user study.


This work was partially funded by LiMoSINe project (

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Correspondence to Ilaria Bordino.

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Data availability To ensure repeatability of our experiments, we make our entity networks and the results of our user studies available upon request.

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Bordino, I., Lalmas, M., Mejova, Y. et al. Beyond entities: promoting explorative search with bundles. Inf Retrieval J 19, 447–486 (2016).

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  • Entity search
  • Entity networks
  • Composite eetrieval
  • Bundles
  • Explorative aearch
  • Topical bundles