Hurdles to Information Seeking: Explaining Spelling and Typographical Mistakes in Users' Online Search Behavior

E. Hargittai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A refined approach to digital inequality requires that in addition to looking at differences in access statistics we also examine differences among Internet users. People encounter numerous hurdles during their online information-seeking behavior. In this paper, I focus on the likelihood of Internet users to make spelling or typographical mistakes during their online activities. Information seeking on the Web often requires users to type text into forms. Users sometimes make mistakes, which can have hindering effects on their browsing efficiency because they may get derailed to irrelevant sources or encounter errors. I draw on data collected from in-person observations with a diverse sample of one hundred Internet users to see what explains users’ tendency to make spelling and typographical mistakes and the frequency with which they encounter such errors. I find that education level is a significant predictor one’s likelihood to make mistakes suggesting that existing social inequalities translate into differences in online behavior.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Association of Information Systems
StatePublished - Jan 2006

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