Asknext: an agent protocol for social search

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This paper describes the Asknext protocol, which automates knowledge exchanges by connecting agents using social networks. The protocol combines social answering systems, in which people answer queries or questions, with social feedback systems, in which feedback is used to sort search results. In Asknext, each agent represents a user, her contacts and her knowledge. When an agent receives a question, it will try to answer it; if it has no answer available, the agent forwards a message with that question to its contacts or shows it to its user. Asknext's main contributions are that it introduces stop messages and different propagation speeds for different messages, which allow a reduction in the spread of messages after an information need has been satisfied. A difference in the propagation speed of messages results in the search stopping when a relevant answer has been found. This paper describes a formalisation of the protocol, its mathematical model and experiments showing that the number of messages generated is lower than those generated by social search protocols such as Sixearch. Concretely, Asknext sends 20 times fewer messages than Sixearch; therefore, Asknext significantly improves the scalability of social search protocols, with as little as 0.05% loss of answer suitability, with the result that in many cases, there is no loss of suitability ​
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