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Combining information seeking services into a meta supply chain of facts

Roussinov, Dmitri and Chau, Michael (2008) Combining information seeking services into a meta supply chain of facts. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 9 (3).

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The World Wide Web has become a vital supplier of information that allows organizations to carry on such tasks as business intelligence, security monitoring, and risk assessments. Having a quick and reliable supply of correct facts from perspective is often mission critical. By following design science guidelines, we have explored ways to recombine facts from multiple sources, each with possibly different levels of responsiveness and accuracy, into one robust supply chain. Inspired by prior research on keyword-based meta-search engines (e.g., metacrawler.com), we have adapted the existing question answering algorithms for the task of analysis and triangulation of facts. We present a first prototype for a meta approach to fact seeking. Our meta engine sends a user's question to several fact seeking services that are publicly available on the Web (e.g., ask.com, brainboost.com, answerbus.com, NSIR, etc.) and analyzes the returned results jointly to identify and present to the user those that are most likely to be factually correct. The results of our evaluation on the standard test sets widely used in prior research support the evidence for the following: 1) the value-added of the meta approach: its performance surpasses the performance of each supplier, 2) the importance of using fact seeking services as suppliers to the meta engine rather than keyword driven search portals, and 3) the resilience of the meta approach: eliminating a single service does not noticeably impact the overall performance. We show that these properties make the meta-approach a more reliable supplier of facts than any of the currently available stand-alone services.