People can often find themselves out of their depth when they face knowledge-based problems, such as faulty technology, or medical concerns. This can also happen in everyday domains that users are simply inexperienced with, like cooking. These are common exploratory search conditions, where users don’t quite know enough about the domain to know if they are submitting a good query, nor if the results directly resolve their need or can be translated to do so. In such situations, people turn to their friends for help, or to forums like StackOverflow, so that someone can explain things to them and translate information to their specific need. This short paper describes work-in-progress within a Google-funded project focusing on Search Literacy in these situations, where improved search skills will help users to learn as they search, to search better, and to better comprehend the results. Focusing on the technology-problem domain, we present initial results from a qualitative study of questions asked and answers given in StackOverflow, and present plans for designing search engine support to help searchers learn as they search.
Wilson, M. L., Ye, C., Twidale, M. B., Grasse, H., Rosenthal, J., & McKittrick, M. (2016). Search literacy: learning to search to learn.