I’ve mused a fair amount about to apply the concept of the Phetch human computation game to evaluate browsing-based information retrieval interfaces. I’d love to be able to better evaluate faceted navigation and clustering approaches, relative to conventional search as well as relative to one another.
Here is the sort of co-operative game I have in mind. It uses shopping as a scenario, and has two roles: the Shopper and the Shopping Assistant.
As a Shopper, you are presented with an shopping list and a browsing interface (i.e., you can click on links but you cannot type free text into a search box). Your goal is to find as many of the items on your shopping list as possible within a fixed time limit. In a variation of this game, not all of the items on the list are findable.
As a Shopping Assistant, you know the complete inventory, but not what the Shopper is looking for. Your goal is to help the Shopper find as many of the items on his or her shopping list as possible within a fixed time limit. On each round of interaction, you present the Shopper with information and links within the constraints of a fixed-size page. The links may include options to select items (the Shopper’s ultimate goal), as well as options that show more items or modify the query.
Either role could be played by a human or a machine, and, like Phetch, the game could be made competitive by having multiple players in the same role. I’d think the interesting way to implement such a game would be with human Shoppers and algorithmic Shopping Assistants.
Is anyone aware of research along these lines? I’m hardly wed to the shopping list metaphor–it could be some other task that seems suitable for browsing-oriented interfaces.