Web searching agents, What are they doing out there?

Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda S. Spink, Jan Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Web has become a worldwide repository of information, which individuals, companies, and organizations utilize to solve or address various information problems. Many of these Web users utilize automated agents to gather this information for them. It is assumed that this approach represents a more sophisticated method of searching. However, there is little research investigating how Web agents search for online information. In this research, we examine how agents search for information on Web search engines, including the session, query, term, duration and frequency' of interactions. For this study, we analyzed queries that 2,717 agents submitted to the Aha Vista search engine on 8 September 2002. Findings include: (1) agents interacting with Web search engines use queries comparable to human searchers, (2) Web agents are searching for a relatively limited variety of information, with only 18% of the terms used being unique, and (3) agent - Web search engine interaction typically spans several hours with multiple instances of interaction per second.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1410-1416
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics
StatePublished - 2003
EventSystem Security and Assurance - Washington, DC, United States
Duration: Oct 5 2003Oct 8 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Hardware and Architecture


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