Tip of the Tongue Known-Item Retrieval: A Case Study in Movie Identification

Proceedings of the 6th international ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval |

Published by ACM

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While current information retrieval systems are effective for known-item retrieval where the searcher provides a precise name or identifier for the item being sought, systems tend to be much less effective for cases where the searcher is unable to express a precise name or identifier. We refer to this as tip of the tongue (TOT) known-item retrieval, named after the cognitive state of not being able to retrieve an item from memory. Using movie search as a case study, we explore the characteristics of questions posed by searchers in TOT states in a community question answering website. We analyze how searchers express their information needs during TOT states in the movie domain. Specifically, what information do searchers remember about the item being sought and how do they convey this information? Our results suggest that searchers use a combination of information about: (1) the content of the item sought, (2) the context in which they previously engaged with the item, and (3) previous attempts to find the item using other resources (e.g., search engines). Additionally, searchers convey information by sometimes expressing uncertainty (i.e., hedging), opinions, emotions, and by performing relative (vs. absolute) comparisons with attributes of the item. As a result of our analysis, we believe that searchers in TOT states may require specialized query understanding methods or document representations. Finally, our preliminary retrieval experiments show the impact of each information type presented in information requests on retrieval performance.