Too much noise vs lack of information

Humans are good at ignoring noise. Image © Dreamstime.com

Humans are good at ignoring background noise and retrieving only the information that they need. This ability is supported by generic learning mechanisms and improves with age and life experience.

At the same time, humans do benefit from hints. They use all, even small and ambiguous pieces of information for reducing their uncertainty about the intentions of the speaker, and in many cases the hints are sufficient despite their ambiguity.

Dictionary search results as a form of communication are no exception. Traditionally, dictionaries have been carefully curated to minimise noise. Statements that are not true have been avoided at all costs, which is reasonable, considering that untrue statements easily catch the user’s eye, reduce the credibility of the dictionary, and also constitute a major topic of dictionary reviews.

The flip side of avoiding noise is leaving out relevant information that is true. In the qlaara dictionary, we use the opposite approach, to include as much information as possible, at the expense of also tolerating a high level of noise. This approach is based on trusting you, the user, to make intelligent decisions regarding the results that you get to your query. The user is smart, not the dictionary. While it is easy for smart users to ignore irrelevant search results, we do hope to also provide information that is both useful for you and missing from traditional dictionaries.

Also, if you find something in qlaara that you really don’t like, you can vote it down (or up, if that’s what you feel) in table view of the search results. You are most welcome to try that feature, because in the end such user votes will add the wisdom of the crowd to the statistical results of corpus linguistics, leading to a better dictionary in the end.

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