ASIS&T 2013 Annual Meeting 
Montréal, Québec, Canada | November 1-5, 2013

The Value of Social Search: Seeking Collective Personal Experience in Social Q&A

Grace YoungJoo Jeon, University of Michigan
Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan

Sunday, 3:30pm


In this paper, we examine the value of social question-answering (Q&A) services as a platform for social search. We present a quasi-field study where we instructed 20 study participants to use a social Q&A site, Yahoo! Answers, for a period of one week, and interviewed them about their experience with Yahoo! Answers based on the questions (N=99) they posted to the site. The results indicate that participants turned to a social search system when they needed firsthand information, diverse perspectives, and others’ value judgments. Participants also preferred social search systems over web search engines in situations where they could obtain tailored information, access original and non-popular information, filter out information, and interact with real people. Various strategies that participants employed to ensure that their questions would be likely to be answered were also identified. This study contributes to the field of information science by investigating a social Q&A site using the framework of social search from the information seeker’s perspective. The results have implications for developers and designers of social search systems.