Measuring the importance of user-generated content to search engines

Nicholas Vincent, Isaac Johnson, Patrick Sheehan, Brent Hecht

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Search engines are some of the most popular and profitable intelligent technologies in existence. Recent research, however, has suggested that search engines may be surprisingly dependent on user-created content like Wikipedia articles to address user information needs. In this paper, we perform a rigorous audit of the extent to which Google leverages Wikipedia and other user-generated content to respond to queries. Analyzing results for six types of important queries (e.g. most popular, trending, expensive advertising), we observe that Wikipedia appears in over 80% of results pages for some query types and is by far the most prevalent individual content source across all query types. More generally, our results provide empirical information to inform a nascent but rapidly-growing debate surrounding a highly-consequential question: Do users provide enough value to intelligent technologies that they should receive more of the economic benefits from intelligent technologies?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event13th International Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2019 - Munich, Germany
Duration: Jun 11 2019Jun 14 2019


Conference13th International Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications


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