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Researchers Track Mouse Movements and Hesitations 116 116

lpctstr writes "Researchers from the University of Washington and Microsoft Research have found that cursor movements and cursor hovers can detect the relevance of a search result and whether a user may abandon the search. They use an efficient algorithm written in Javascript to silently record movements and clicks on Bing and find that computing relevance using movements + clicks works better than just clicks (the current state-of-the-art). They explain some of this due to cursor and gaze being closely aligned on the web, and especially so on search result pages. Is this the future of innovation in search ranking — Google and Bing tracking your every twitch and pause?"
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Researchers Track Mouse Movements and Hesitations

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  • Re:People like me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by martas (1439879) on Monday January 31, 2011 @09:16AM (#35055400)
    Well, AFAIK, you're in the minority. I think most people do in fact move their mouse with their gaze, because it cuts the delay between when they decide to click on something and when they actually click on it. Think of it as a pre-loading or caching technique -- you don't pay much cost for moving your mouse around a little bit, but you can save time. At least that's my hypothesis.
  • Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Meneth (872868) on Monday January 31, 2011 @09:28AM (#35055480)
    They've already started doing a very hacky thing to their search results in order to monitor us. The links are changing to a redirect url when clicked. Had to use YesScript [mozilla.org] to block it.
  • Re:Oh well. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MollyB (162595) on Monday January 31, 2011 @09:38AM (#35055546) Journal

    If you use Firefox there is an add-on called Scroogle [mozilla.org] that sidesteps these cursor-movement worries, plus leaving no tracks for Google to assimilate. It will add itself to the list of available search engines. I use it almost exclusively nowadays. Of course one must trust Pathetic Cockroach, the author, but the 5-star reviews speak loudly to me. I've never heard any criticism of it and would be interested if there is...

  • by zwei2stein (782480) on Monday January 31, 2011 @10:41AM (#35056160) Homepage

    have fun optimizing bubble sort in assembler ...

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday January 31, 2011 @10:56AM (#35056350)

    I hate javascript. I knew from the very start it would be a source of abuse more than use. I knew it and avoided using it in my code whenever possible.

    I turn it off at every chance and only allow it sparingly on some sites.

    and now they want to meta-watch us. just wonderful. as if working around the 'helpful autocompletes' all over the place (I'm talking to you, google) isn't enough hassle to get the data we want.

    typing into text boxes is a huge pita. SO much other processing goes not (even if you disable spellchecking) that I lose characters, find repeated characters and the typing lag is WORSE than it was 20 yrs ago with an 8 or 16bit cpu and less than a meg of ram. I'm not kidding - the more js that runs 'in the background' the laggier shit gets as you type. my 3ghz dualcore 'drops characters' like its no one business; and I know that I'm not alone since I see so many posts on so many forums with dropped and repeated chars. the web SHIT has taken over our computers and only gives us tiny slices of time to do OUR work in.

    the solution is to go back to a batch oriented web again, for at least some things. I do NOT want 'journalling - saving!' happening WHILE I am typing in a text box. the only thing happening should be cursor moves, chars entered and cursor blinking. while in emacs or vi, my text speed is very fast; so why is it that web-based text areas are SLOW AS SHIT ?

    its the javascript. the language for advertisers and webfuckers (what I call webmasters who fuck wtih your browser, thinking that THEY own the formating and content display on your system and not you).

    do a view source and see all the crud that comes thru. how much is really need to query and display results? I could do that in simple forms/cgi's and bypass all the crud.

    so, we need more 'submit' style front ends that sit there and do NOTHING until you hit submit. no animation, no character counting, no 'journalling - saved!' bullshit. no copying of my data to you 'in case'. just fucking sit there, take my text and when *I* hit submit, THEN you can bulk upload it to the main server.

    javascript annoys the hell out of me. it has ruined what was once a nice responsive web. now, I drop characters as the background jscript tasks own more cpu than the foreground ones do. ;(

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday January 31, 2011 @12:05PM (#35057110)

    What Microsoft REALLY needs to do a better job of is tracking mouse movement (specifically, acceleration, ballistics, etc) to do a better job of discerning intent when you go to grab something... and a better job of adaptively figuring out over time whether its assumptions about your intent are right or wrong. It really seems like every new version of WIndows leaves me fighting and frustrated with it a tiny bit more.

    Here's a real-world concrete example. Suppose the mouse pointer is approaching the right edge of a window that's maximized to the left panel of a multi-monitor setup. The mouse pointer slows down, and seems to also be approaching the scrollbar. The left button gets pressed, and the mouse moves in a direction that's mostly upwards. Well, except the pointer overshot the edge a bit, and the left click technically occurred 2 pixels into the window on the monitor adjacent to the right. Taken in isolation, Windows has no real choice but to assume the user meant to click the pixel on the other monitor even though it contextually makes no sense. But combined with the observed ballistics (slowing down, slight arc towards the scrollbar, motion after left-click that makes more sense as a scroll-gesture than a... well... meaningless gesture), it's obvious what the user meant to click. And for the most part, Windows, seems to be completely oblivious to it.

    Now, for a counter-example: trying to select text without adjacent whitespace. For me, Windows (Word and Outlook in particular) NEVER seems to get this right. I'll click at the right starting point, letting go and starting over if I'm not happy with it. Then I'll start highlighting. But way too often, it'll stop selecting a character or two short of where I want. If I keep moving the mouse, it'll grudgingly select the remaining characters... but feels compelled to ALSO ignore my hard initial-selection work and expand the other end of the selection too. Dammit. I'll then spend the next 10 seconds fighting with it trying to select the text I REALLY want. Half the time, I'm forced to give up, let it select the damn adjacent whitespace, and edit it away after I paste. It annoys me to no end.

    In the end, it feels like Windows has simultaneously gotten worse in two directions. It forces its opinion on me without learning from its mistakes or giving me the option to beat it into submission so it quits interfering, and simultaneously forces selection with almost single-pixel precision to make increasingly-dense window gadgets work. I'll admit that Java is even worse in this regard, and Linux (or at least Gnome/Compiz) doesn't seem to be any better, but it's still annoying as hell.

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