I think that search is undergoing a paradigm shift – its no longer about who presents the best ten blue links but now more about presenting the answers upfront. Dfacto (pronounced as ‘de facto‘, Latin for ‘by [the] fact‘) is aimed at addressing this issue. A large percentage (nearly 68%) of queries are informational queries – one where the searcher knows what she’d like to do or find but does not know how this can be achieved. Dfacto is aimed primarily at addressing this class of queries by presenting a set of facts associated with the query/topic to the searcher. It uses natural language algorithms to get facts that are most “semantically” related to the query. In lay terms, it literally tries to understand your query and the results. I’ll save the algorithmic details for another post. The few examples below show how it works:
Disclaimer: This is a work in progress, so you might notice a few ‘facts’ that are irrelevant to the query.
Lets say the searcher is (losing hair and) looking for causes of hair loss. Normally he/she would need to click through a bunch of links to get an overview on the causes. This hack on the other hand makes life a bit easier by presenting the causes upfront (click to enlarge):
Along with the facts, we also list the source from where it was extracted. Alternatively, the searcher can also select a bunch of facts he/she thinks are relevant and refine the search. This in turn would yield a new set of ‘web results’ along with new refined and related ‘facts’.
Another example (one which I particularly like) is a query about ‘table manners’. This precisely lists a set of etiquette’s to follow at the table (click to enlarge).
Alternatively, Dfacto also serves well as a product research tool. A query for ‘iphone 3gs’ yeilds (click to enlarge):
On another note, if you have a date in the coming weeks you might be interested in reading the list below (: