Web popularity: An illusory perception of a qualitative order in information

Stefano Federici*, Simone Borsci, Maria Laura Mele, Gianluca Stamerra

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Using a psychotechnological perspective, this study discusses the current model of information ranking by search engines, based on quantitative Web Popularity (WP), which binds users to a cognitive adaptation to the rank-system restrictions. This phenomenon gives rise to a "rich-get-richer" effect on the Web. This paper claims that such an effect could be limited or reversed by the introduction of quality factors in ranking, and addresses the case of accessibility as a fundamental such factor. A study is reported which, through introducing an accessibility factor in a well-known popularity ranking algorithm, demonstrates that this transformation allows a qualitative rearrangement, without modifying or weighing on the properties of the rank. The overall approach is grounded on two development factors: the analysis of accessibility through specific tools and the employment of this analysis within all components used to build up the ranking. The results show that it is important to reconsider WP as including not only on the number of inbound and outbound links of a website, but also on its level of accessibility for all users, and on users' judgment of the website use as efficient, effective, and satisfactory.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)375-386
    Number of pages12
    JournalUniversal access in the information society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010


    • Accessibility
    • Human computer interaction
    • Ranking model
    • Web popularity


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