Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Computer Engineering

Advisor

Dr. Haiying (Helen) Shen

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Schalkoff

Committee Member

Dr. Brian Malloy

Abstract

Online Question and Answer (Q&A) websites have been a part of the Internet for many years, the most well-known being Yahoo! Answers. These websites allow us to ask and answer questions with other Internet users around the world, utilizing one of the Internet's greatest strengths: information sharing. In the past, this sharing was restricted to primarily text-based content, and previous research has been almost solely devoted to these text-based Q&A systems. This research includes topics such as improving text-based question quality, and methods for finding the best text-based answer. Now, new Q&A systems such as Jelly have recently been released that utilize multimedia, including images, audio, or video for questions and/or answers. These new multimedia features were not part of previous text-based research, and the objective of this project is to fill that research void: how does the use of multimedia in a question affect the odds of receiving the correct answer? Our findings will not only affect this previous Q&A research on question quality and forwarding, but also reveal new security and privacy concerns. To perform our research, we created several different types of multimedia questions, spanning many different topics. We then studied how users answered each question, using our custom MultiQuery website to facilitate the experiment. This website is unique to Q&A in that it allows for many different multimedia question types, not simply text. Once the experiment was completed, we analyzed the results and determined if and to what degree multimedia use in a question improves or worsens the quality of answers; both overall and for each specific topic of questions. We found that multimedia did in fact have a beneficial effect, especially with images, showing a higher answer rating and correctness percentage for most multimedia types. We also found many security and privacy risks from integrating multimedia into a Q&A website, including loss of privacy through image sharing and voice recognition, as well as security dangers to Q&A system owners through illegal, malicious, or explicit uploaded multimedia content. Our analysis and discussion will help future multimedia Q&A systems as they seek to implement the most effective forms of multimedia, will aid future research into multimedia question quality and forwarding algorithms, and will provide recommendations for safer Q&A security practices that account for multimedia.

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