BrowseRank? Welcome to the club!

Microsoft Research just published a paper “BrowseRank: Letting Web Users Vote for Page Importance” at the SIGIR (Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval) conference this week in Singapore.

This paper describes a method for computing page importance, referred to as BrowseRank.

FAROO has been doing something very similar with its attention based PeerRank for some time already.

FAROO’s “If users spend a long time on a page, visit it often, put it to bookmarks or prints it out, this page goes up in ranking.”
sounds very familiar to
Microsoft’s “The more visits of the page made by the users and the longer time periods spent by the users on the page, the more likely the page is important.”, doesn’t it?

Also the term implicit voting used in the paper caused a kind of Déjà vu: “we are voting automatically on the fly, implicit without manual action.” from our blog post Attention economy, the implicit web and myware.

A very significant difference is though, that FAROO maintains the privacy of the user because it calculates the PeerRank in a decentralized manner, while Microsoft would collect all click streams of all users in a central server.

It’s great to see that also Microsoft’s research paper confirms that attention based ranking is able to outperform PageRank both for relevancy and for spam suppression.

This is certainly an excellent technical paper, but from a scientific publication I would expect previously existing applications of user behavior data for ranking search results to be mentioned in the chapter ‘Related Work’.