Towards Understanding Complex Known-Item Requests on Reddit

Florian Maximilian Meier, Toine Bogers, Maria Gäde, Line Ebdrup Thomsen

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

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Given the important role of search engines in our everyday lives, a better understanding of the information needs that guide our information seeking behavior is essential. Known-item needs form a particular type of information need and occur when a user has a limited but concrete description of an existing object and would like to (re-)find it. Most studies of know-item needs have focused on the short query representations of these needs as they occur in search engine logs. In this article, we focus on richer, more complex known-item need representations posted to six dedicated Reddit discussion forums in the casual leisure domain. An analysis of 462 known-item requests from these subreddits revealed 33 different relevance aspects of items in a variety of different domains. Some of these aspects are highly domain-specific, while others are broadly applicable across domains. The domain %of the item sought also has a strong influence on the length of the known-item requests. Our findings can be used to prioritize efforts to help existing search engines better support known-item needs, both by highlighting which aspects are easier to classify automatically and by determining which information sources should be added to a search engine's index.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 32nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media (HT '21)
EditorsOwen Conlan
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2021
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-8551-0
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event32nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media - Virtual, United States
Duration: 30 Aug 20212 Sep 2021


Conference32nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • known-item needs
  • information needs
  • re-finding
  • complex search
  • relevance
  • casual leisure search
  • Reddit


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