Browsing Real Time Search Results

We have just released a cool new feature of Noflail Search. You can now watch how results change in real time as you use the page menu to browse a result set.

When you leave a page, the results in that page become “old”. Old results are shown with a dimmer grey background, and a page that only has old results has a dimmer grey button in the page menu. Noflail Search checks for new results when you click any button in the page menu. If a page that you’ve already visited has new results, its button is black rather than grey, and the new results are highlighted within that page by a brighter background.

You can control how the result set changes. You can make the results in the current page old without going away by clicking on a button for the current page in the page menu. You can go away without making the results old by holding down the shift key while clicking. And you can stop new results from coming in by freezing the result set. A short YouTube video tutorial goes over all this.

Noflail Search is a multisearch engine, that lets you run a query on many different search engines. It can run a query on an engine’s site and display results in pop-up window as rendered by the engine’s front-end. But for some engines that have a Web API, Noflail Search gets results by default through the API and displays them using the Noflail Search front-end. The new real time feature works for all those engines. I suggest that you try it out on the results provided by the real time search engine Topsy, which change fast for trending topics. But even results from a more traditional search engine such as Bing can be seen changing as you browse them.

This new feature solves an open problem in real time search: how to browse results that change frequently.

Some real time search engines, such as Twitter search (at twitter.com or search.twitter.com) and Google/Realtime (at google.com/realtime) show results ranked by recency in a constantly scrolling display. This shows how results change, but it is not very practical, since the user has to watch many irrelevant results go by before catching a relevant one.

Other real time search engines, such as Topsy (at topsy.com), rank results by both recency and relevance, with a traditional paginated user interface. This makes it easier to find relevant results, but it may be difficult to keep track of what results you have seen. If a result moves from page 2 to page 1 as you go from page 1 to page 2, the user may miss it.

Twitter and Google/Realtime address this open problem by also showing, besides the fast scrolling display, three older more relevant results. This concedes that they do not know how to blend recency and relevance.

Our new feature makes it possible to rank results by a balanced combination of recency and relevance and to use a paginated user interface, while at the same time showing how results change in real time and helping the user keep track of what results have been seen.

This new feature derives from research funded in part by grant 1013594 from the National Science Foundation.

We have patents pending on this and other aspects of Noflail Search.

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