Research group digest


*The background*

The aim of the Search Task Repository project is to let the users/Internet searchers publish their annotated search logs and make these logs searchable. In order to log ones search activity and behaviour, we have developed a special tool called The Search Logger 2.0. Here "2.0" means that a conceptually similar but technically very different logger existed before I started with this project and was developed by Hannu Kikkas. The current version is platform-independent and uses a proxy to modify every web page served so that it could be logged by our dedicated HTTP server. The Search Task Repository is currently in development and will be one of the main topics of my Master thesis.

The goal

We wanted to put ourselves in the end user's shoes and evaluate the usability of the current Search Logger 2.0. To do that I conducted a number of exploratory search tasks and used our software to log the web activity. In essence, I sought an answer to the question "How to do a search report?". The other goal was to find, document and fix bugs in the existing logging and reporting software and come up with ideas about new features.

The results

The existing solution was tested on six exploratory search tasks such as finding a foreign university on a budget where to study machine engineering, finding 5 clever Christmas present ideas for under 10 euros per item, finding a ballroom dance school in Tartu area, etc. These tasks and how they worked out on our current software in more detail can be found on my blog. What is more, I made a short screencast for presentation purposes which is also linked to. During the semester I made some small tweaks to the Search Logger 2.0 but they are mostly bug-fixes and I do not consider them significant in this context. Here is a list of things that I learnt from the experiment:

  • FIX: Amazon book preview does not work properly
  • FIX: Sidepane video image previews on YouTube are not displayed
  • FIX: Some random exceptions (documented) -> possibly related to the pre- and post-forms
* TODO: Users might want to take notes while searching
* TODO: onSubmit and onClick events should be also logged
* TODO: The logger is lacking a database integration
* TODO: Search logger and repository integration (work in progress)
* IDEA: Copy-paste detection and bookmarking would be nice to have because this help us detect web pages with relevant information

Thank you for reading this blog and feel free to share your ideas!



* [Finding a ballroom dance school in Tartu area](

And here is the second search task conducted. What makes it special is its locality. Search tasks often get a different meaning when the physical location comes into play. And this is one key aspect to bear in mind for developing the repository of search tasks. A user who is searching for a dance school in Tartu might have little use of search logs describing the same thing for Stockholm. However, general search patterns (for instance some non-location key words typed in Google which lead to good results) might still be discovered from the logs.





Technical logs:

In the next post I will wrap up why the things I did were useful for the project in general.


P.S. This is not an advertisement but the best school quality/price-wise that I found was Revalia Tantsukool, appr. 4-5 EUR per hour. :D


* [Electronic books search case study](


In the meantime I have came up with two new exploratory search tasks. The first one will be covered in this post






Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics [Paperback]

Make: Electronics (Learning by Discovery) [Paperback]

Tab Electronics Guide to Understanding Electricity and Electronics [Paperback]

Electronics Demystified [Paperback]

Electronics For Dummies [Paperback]

All New Electronics Self-Teaching Guide (Wiley Self Teaching Guides) [Paperback]

Search logger logs and crash logs:


There is more to come...