Unified Browsing Models for Linear and Grid Layouts


Amifa Raj and Michael D. Ekstrand. 2023. Unified Browsing Models for Linear and Grid Layouts. arXiv:2310.12524 [cs.IR].

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Many information access systems operationalize their results in terms of rankings, which are then displayed to users in various ranking layouts such as linear lists or grids. User interaction with a retrieved item is highly dependent on the item’s position in the layout, and users do not provide similar attention to every position in ranking (under any layout model). User attention is an important component in the evaluation process of ranking, due to its use in effectiveness metrics that estimate utility as well as fairness metrics that evaluate ranking based on social and ethical concerns. These metrics take user browsing behavior into account in their measurement strategies to estimate the attention the user is likely to provide to each item in ranking. Research on understanding user browsing behavior has proposed several user browsing models, and further observed that user browsing behavior differs with different ranking layouts. However, the underlying concepts of these browsing models are often similar, including varying components and parameter settings. We seek to leverage that similarity to represent multiple browsing models in a generalized, configurable framework which can be further extended to more complex ranking scenarios. In this paper, we describe a probabilistic user browsing model for linear rankings, show how they can be configured to yield models commonly used in current evaluation practice, and generalize this model to also account for browsing behaviors in grid-based layouts. This model provides configurable framework for estimating the attention that results from user browsing activity for a range of IR evaluation and measurement applications in multiple formats, and also identifies parameters that need to be estimated through user studies to provide realistic evaluation beyond ranked lists.

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