Just a Click Away: Social Search and Metadata in Predicting File Discovery
Social search has been claimed to improve content discovery by allowing users to draw on their social network to find relevant content. Thus social network information, complemented with metadata, can enhance the search for new information. We examine the relative contribution of social network information and file metadata in predicting downloads of files by analyzing the file browsing behavior of 5,723 users of a social file sharing service in a large global company. The following factors increase the likelihood of download: (a) if the file author is in the user’s social network; (b) if the file has been downloaded by or shared with others in the user’s network; and (c) if the file’s metadata is a good match to the user’s interests. Semi-structured interviews with 18 users provided deeper insight into why these factors are important. Our findings demonstrate the value of the social graph for finding files, with implications for relevant content and people discovery.