Brown Bag Lunch@iSchool: Parmit Chilana

“Designing and Evaluating Selection-Based Crowdsourced Contextual Help” Parmit Chilana from the University of Waterloo

Web-based technical support such as discussion forums and social networking sites have been successful at ensuring that most technical support questions eventually receive helpful answers. Unfortunately, finding these answers is still difficult, since users’ textual queries are often incomplete, imprecise, or use different vocabularies to describe the same problem. My dissertation introduced LemonAid, a new selection-based crowdsourced contextual help approach that embeds users’ questions and answers directly into the user interface, allowing users to retrieve help by selecting a label, widget, image, or another UI element instead of specifying natural language queries. The evaluation of LemonAid’s underlying retrieval algorithm showed that LemonAid can retrieve a result for 90% of help requests based on UI selections alone and, of those, over half have relevant matches in the top 2 results. LemonAid was deployed on four live web sites used by thousands of users at the University of Washington and data from over 1,200 usage logs, 168 surveys, and 36 interviews indicated that over 70% of users found LemonAid to be helpful, intuitive, and desirable for reuse. Software teams found LemonAid easy to integrate with their sites and found the analytics data aggregated by LemonAid to be a novel way of learning about users’ frequently asked questions.

Parmit Chilana is an Assistant Professor in Management Sciences and cross-appointed in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. She specializes in human-computer interaction (HCI) and information systems. Her current research is looking at different aspects of social and interactive design, funded by NSERC and the GRAND network. Parmit received her PhD in Information Science from the University of Washington in 2013 where she invented LemonAid, a novel crowdsourced contextual help approach for software applications. Parmit was recently recognized as a runner-up for the iSchool Doctoral Dissertation Award and she also co-founded AnswerDash, a venture-funded startup company that is commercializing LemonAid’s help approach.