Measuring the importance of user-generated content to search engines

Nicholas Vincent, Isaac Johnson, Patrick Sheehan, Brent Hecht

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 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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