SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: [Sigia-l] search results and thesauri
RE: [Sigia-l] search results and thesauri
From: Andrew McNaughton (andrew_at_scoop.co.nz)
Date: Fri May 24 2002 - 12:45:12 EDT
On Thu, 23 May 2002, Tal Herman wrote:
> While we preserve for the journalist the terms that they search for, we
> don't reveal the synonyms that were relied upon to find their results set.
> I don't find this approach problematic in the least for the audience we are
> serving and the service that we are providing. The journalists simply don't
> care if the word 'moslem' was translated to it's officially approved synonym
> 'muslim' during the course of the search, or if their spelling of 'Koran'
> was changed to 'Qu'ran' for purposes of the search. All they care about is
> if they've gotten a results set that satisfies their need for a particular
> kind of expert.
If you are only dealing with *precise* synonyms, this is entirely
un-problematic. The problem comes around if "Qu'ran" is not a preferred
term and you list experts in the Qu'ran under "Muslim" or "Middle Eastern
Reliegion" or some such term. Using broader terms or related terms in a
search which are not precisely the same as the user's search can improve
results, but because these terms are not precise synonyms, the result is
not always appropriate to the search intent, and it can lead to unexpected
results. This is the sort of issue that makes it important to give users
feedback on the terms that are actually used in the search, and the
opportunity to modify them.
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