Guidelines for Curating Search Results

Guidelines for Curating Search Results #

Thank you for helping improve Mwmbl search results! Please read these guidelines before you make changes.

This is a living document and will be updated based on the concensus of the community.

Summary #

TLDR; edit the results to make them better for users, not for self-promotion.

General guidelines #

The goal of editing search results is twofold:

  • To improve the search results for the user.
  • To train a learning to rank model. No matter how many queries are manually curated, most user queries will be organic because of the natural diversity of user queries. Curation is still important for these results since it impacts the machine learning model that will be trained on the curated rankings.

Results should be:

  • Relevant to the user’s query
  • High quality

It is also important which queries are curated.

Supported languages #

Note that only English language queries are supported for now. This is because we need to moderate curations, and our moderator only speaks English fluently. As our community grows, we will start to support more languages.

Choosing queries to curate #

Good queries to curate are those that are likely to be popular queries. The best way to identify these are through using Mwmbl as your regular search engine. If you know that your query is particularly obscure, then it is probably not a good candidate for curation.

Queries that are curated show up on the main page and are stored along with the curation in the database. There may be a temptation to use this as a sort of message board. Please don’t do this. For example, do not curate queries if they are obscene, defamatory or discriminatory.

We also do not want to curate mis-spellings - we have not implemented spelling correction yet, but curation is not the way to fix it. Curating mis-spellings will just use up index space that will not be needed once spelling correction is implemented.

How to curate results #

Search for something on Mwmbl. Click the “tick” (✓) button for each relevant result. The results you approve will go to the top of the search results.

The interface for this is in active development and will likely change.

Co-opting results #

The Mwmbl Firefox extension now has an option to search Google and add these into the search results. When typing in the search bar on the Mwmbl website, you need to press “Enter” to see the Google results. To prevent sending too many queries to Google, we do not query Google as you type.

When you approve (✓) results from Google, they are saved to our index. This allows other users to benefit from Google search results without needing to install the extension. Only results that you approve are stored in our index.

Adding results #

If you know of a relevant result that is not returned by Mwmbl or Google, you can add results manually by clicking the “Add new” button and entering a URL.

Relevance #

Search results should contain the user’s query or something semantically equivalent. Sometimes this requires interpreting a user’s query.

Where a query is ambiguous, results for the most common interpretations should be included. For example, a query for “apple” can include results for Apple Computer as well as e.g. a Wikipedia article on the fruit apple.

Quality #

The criteria for quality are:

  • Informative: How comprehensive is it? How well written?
  • Accurate: does it contain factual, typographical or spelling errors?
  • Authoritative: what is the source of the page? Is it created by a well respected organization or individual?
  • Privacy respecting: does it allow third-party tracking cookies?
  • Light-weight: how much bandwidth does it require to load the page? Does it load and play unnecessary videos and adverts?
  • Public domain: is the content released under a creative commons or open source license?

A page does not need to satisfy all of these criteria in order to be considered high-quality,

Conflicts of interest #

Editing a search results page where there is a conflict of interest is not allowed. Specifically, self-promotion or promoting the site of an employer, relative or associate is not allowed.

Flagging unsuitable curations #

If you think that a curation does not meet the above criteria, please flag it for a moderator to take action. You need to specify a reason for flagging the curation. A moderator will then either revert the curation, or ignore it if they do not agree that the curation is not valid.

Flagged curations do not show on the home page.