Interpreting User Inactivity on Search Results

  • Sofia Stamou
  • Efthimis N. Efthimiadis
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5993)


The lack of user activity on search results was until recently perceived as a sign of user dissatisfaction from retrieval performance, often, referring to such inactivity as a failed search (negative search abandonment). However, recent studies suggest that some search tasks can be achieved in the contents of the results displayed without the need to click through them (positive search abandonment); thus they emphasize the need to discriminate between successful and failed searches without follow-up clicks. In this paper, we study users’ inactivity on search results in relation to their pursued search goals and investigate the impact of displayed results on user clicking decisions. Our study examines two types of post-query user inactivity: pre-determined and post-determined depending on whether the user started searching with a preset intention to look for answers only within the result snippets and did not intend to click through the results, or the user inactivity was decided after the user had reviewed the list of retrieved documents. Our findings indicate that 27% of web searches in our sample are conducted with a pre-determined intention to look for answers in the results’ list and 75% of them can be satisfied in the contents of the displayed results. Moreover, in nearly half the queries that did not yield result visits, the desired information is found in the result snippets.


Task-oriented search queries without clickthrough search abandonment user study interactive IR 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofia Stamou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Efthimis N. Efthimiadis
    • 3
  1. 1.Computer Engineering and Informatics DepartmentPatras UniversityPatrasGreece
  2. 2.Department of Archives and Library ScienceIonian UniversityCorfuGreece
  3. 3.Information SchoolUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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