How well do you use search engines?

One of the things that amazes me is how poorly many people are at using Internet search engines. Students are particularly bad at it. You would be amazed at what they can’t find. Recently I found out about a game called Page Hunt.

A brief blurb about the game:

This game is like search in reverse:  you’re shown a web page, which you have to ‘hunt down’ using queries sent to Live Search.

When you see the web page, think of a set of terms that would return this page.

You type these words  into a search box. Page Hunt shows the top 5 results for this query from Microsoft’s Live Search.

You get points if the web page you’re ‘hunting’ is one of these top 5 result pages: 100 points if it’s at position 1, 90 points at position 2 etc. If you don’t get it right, change the query and try hunting again. If you get it right, you advance to the next page.

Occasionally, you’ll see very frequent queries listed for a page. If you don’t use these queries to hunt these pages, you’ll get a 50% bonus when you crack that page. And sometimes, just for fun, we give you other bonuses!

If you move the mouse away from the search box, it becomes slightly transparent, so you can see the page better. You can also move the box around if you like. If you get stuck on a page, you can click on the Skip button to go to the next web page, with no penalty in your score. If you encounter a page which does not render properly, or is bad in any way, click on the Bad Page button to flag it.

Each session of the game is 3 minutes long. At the end of a session, you get your session score. At the end of a session, you can review each page, the searches you tried and the results you got from Live Search.

The game uses Silverlight, so you may be prompted to load Silverlight when you first run it. 

Page Hunt is actually part of a research project that is trying to improve online search by looking at how people actually use search. How metadata is used and other attributes of both web pages and the way people form queries. So if you think online search could be better playing this game may help improve things. And honestly I find it fun trying to find out how many pages I can “find” in the 3 minute time period.

My best score so far is 520. Anyone else beat that?

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