Created relevant search features to highlight licensed SNL video content.
Yahoo Screen was planning to release a massive catalog of Saturday Night Live clips, spanning the series entire run. I was approached to create relevant search features to highlight the licensed content.
I was given a list of video collections–recurring characters, hosts, themes, etc.–and an enormous spreadsheet containing video metadata for every single item in the catalog. My task: organize this data into discrete sets of keywords to bring up the precise, relevant video result or carousel of results, and investigate existing search coverage of SNL to ensure we cover those videos.
In addition to creating basic query patterns for such a huge catalog, I was able to have some fun creating aliases for the more popular videos, such as “needs more cowbell.” Specific clips and characters were likely to appear in search logs shortly after new episodes aired, so I planned to monitor dashboards in order to add new videos and keywords Sunday mornings.
I turned around a huge list of keywords in a matter of days so the search experience launched at the same time as the Screen content. Post-launch, I trained a teammate how to look up video IDs and identify relevant query patterns so we could take advantage of the unique, timely spikes that only SNL had.
Development of low-coverage search experiences for information about trees, food, planets, etc.
Ask Search leadership asked our editorial team to identify and develop “low hanging fruit” reference-type content as part of a competitive parity initiative. In some cases, we took content that had already been curated for standard search features and turned it into expanded right-side “Knowledge Graph”-style elements.
Process For existing content, this was effectively a UX or template migration: the content was there, it just needed to be moved to a different format. Trees and food nutrition facts were two good examples. The only trick was that the images already curated weren’t large or high quality enough to serve as a large “hero”-type banner image, so I took advantage of Yahoo subsidiary, Flickr, which has a search-based API that let us serve only Creative Commons-licensed user images.
Result Though these efforts did not represent high-volume queries, the effort did not go unnoticed by leadership, and it also served as an opportunity for less experienced team members to build their skills and flex creative muscle.
Created rich search experiences to feature Yahoo Screen originals alongside knowledge graph.
When Yahoo Screen made its foray into full-length original TV series with Community and others, we were ready to go in search. I made sure that the latest episodes carousel had excellent coverage and TV Series Knowledge Graph contained accurate, detailed profiles.
Built special “vertical search” feature to support new property launches and reduce maintenance.
Yahoo launched several new media verticals called “Magazines” and did not migrate any corresponding vertical search experiences, which were based on an older platform. Instead, a search product manager was tasked with adding vertical content to web search, filtered according to the user’s site of origin, and they enlisted my support to create and launch the necessary features in our search content management platform.
Each query sent from a search box included more than just the user’s query–it contained referral information, usually unique to the property or even page. I used this information to determine when a search experience should appear, as well as pass variables to a backend. The news backend, which indexed news from hundreds of sources worldwide, including Yahoo’s own sites, could return articles matching any query, filtered by property and sorted by freshness.
Expanding on a template design already in use for news results in general web search, I created a “vertical search” feature that included up to 10 results with thumbnails for each and paginated results if there were more than 10 stories matching a given query. This large search feature appeared on top of the usual web algorithmic links and any other non-monetized search features.
Product owners also asked for Magazine stories to be highlighted in web search results (in a less aggressive form, of course). I created simple “navigational” features with a max of 3 stories to appear on searches by Magazine name and featured writers to satisfy their primary need. Because Magazine stories were indexed along with all news content, these stories could appear in regular news search results without any extra effort.
“Emily always brings a number of ideas and potential solutions to a problem, but will back them up with execution reliably, quickly, and self-sufficiently, and manages dependencies deftly and efficiently. When tasked to launch international Magazine Search in Q4, Emily took the lead, coordinating with int’l editorial leads, offering assistance where necessary, and following up to ensure completion, ensuring the appropriate Product approvals (from me) and transparency of communication. The task was completed successfully, quickly, and helped ensure a Green rating on that quarterly goal.”
Product Manager, Vertical Search
No-maintenance, low-effort vertical search launched on all new Magazines. Sites and big-name authors were effectively promoted in web search.
Keyword mapping and search placement for curated original video content.
Yahoo’s video site, Screen, hosted a wide variety of original content over the years, and they periodically asked for this content to appear in search results.
Over the years, I built a relationship with contacts working on Yahoo’s video properties to support their efforts to receive views via relevant search traffic. While at first these appeared in search only as enhanced hyperlinks, eventually the search front-end team implemented an inline player functionality so we could embed Yahoo original content and other videos directly on a search results page. I created an expandable search feature that allowed me to respond quickly to the video team’s requests and generate appropriate keyword lists.
Teams throughout Yahoo knew they could rely on Search to support their efforts to promote premium original content on-network without using significant resources per request.
Expanded on basic series-level profile to include better coverage of streaming availability at series, season, and episode levels.
The Knowledge Graph team wanted to develop major feature improvements to entity profiles around People, Movies, and TV Series with competitor parity as a goal. As a TV enthusiast, I volunteered to support TV Series profile enhancements.
Because I was responsible for the migration of the existing TV series experience into our content management platform, I was well-acquainted with the data elements and quality we already had and could create a clear list of requirements to replace and significantly improve. I was also able to compare this with elements found in design mocks created for the effort. Initially, the planned design did not account for the quality of images available in our database, so I was able to leverage my experience to strike a balance between design requirements and content realities. I was responsible for UX copy including data labels and headers.
After the experience had been live for a time, I learned that our Knowledge Graph database now included content I believed to be valuable to search users: streaming links. While competitors already offered this information, they focused on a la carte options and not popular subscription services, where many series could already be found. I sought and received buy-in from product owners to pursue major changes to the TV series experience.
Streaming links were stored at the episode level, not series or even season, but our keyword list was manually generated, but I found a scalable way to serve episode-level links without manually curating triggering lists covering thousands of individual episodes. I also used this data to identify whether a series could be found on the streaming sites Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and if so, to construct a series-level link.
The Knowledge Graph team also wanted to perform a quality audit of their data for several key topics. I served as the lead for TV Series, creating a finite list of elements to review and guidelines for assessing quality, moderating discussion, and authoring a report on the results.
TV Series in web search results went from a very basic snapshot of title, synopsis, network, logo image, and cast to an interactive set of features including the same key base content as well as episodes, seasons, air dates, and streaming links.
While these solutions were not necessarily an ideal user experience, they allowed users to easily click and find information they might want without too much effort.
The results of the quality audit were used to develop systemic improvements to the way they merge and manage data sources.
Planning and deployment of election-related search experiences to lead users to reliable information on commonly searched queries.
I was approached by search product teams working on distinct experiences around the then-upcoming 2016 U.S. primary election to offer feedback on proposed designs and organize editorial efforts in content curation and quality validation.
Led team effort to develop detailed list of potential features along with timeline, content source(s), and priority. Features based on team knowledge and real user search data/query patterns.
Researched content sources for features that would be relevant in early 2016 (general politics, candidate research). Key requirements included high-quality, politically neutral data; structured in a way that was compatible with our content management platform; served in XML or JSON format or able to be extracted and converted to usable form.
Joined product team meetings to give updates on content development and share feedback on whether design matched real content and user needs.
Created and launched experiences on web search and provided support for other platforms using our work.
By February 2016, we launched several features on web search:
Presidential candidate knowledge graph, incorporating party affiliation, donation data from OpenSecrets.org, polling data, and political office history.
Latest quotes with “truthfulness” rating from Politifact for all presidential candidates.
Candidate stances on 20+ key political issues extracted from ProCon.org with manually curated browse element to help search users explore candidate opinions.
Political cartoon of the day.
Additionally, detailed requirements for election results and future election experience ideas were documented.
#VeganMoFo Day 26, part deux: breakfast potato … Nachos? Kinda? With kale, purple potato slices, black beans, and cashew sauce. Using up stuff in my fridge. Still in the spirit of the challenge, though tomatoes will be hard to find in the apocalypse.
If it’s snowing that much in San Jose, the end times have arrived. So I’m making dessert.
Ever since I wrote about Vegan With a Vengeance being my sentimental favorite cookbook, I’ve had a craving for the boozy chocolate pudding cake, which of late I’ve made with bourbon, but I am fresh out. What I do have is Grand Marnier. Orange and chocolate is a valid combo, and I’m not going out in this apocalypse–what the hell, right?
It’s hot, it’s gooey, it might get you a little buzzed. What better way to spend a snowed-in evening?
Although in some ways similar to yesterday’s seasonal produce theme, I tried to take a somewhat different approach with the menu. I wanted to use nuts, pomegranate, and apples – all symbolic in various ways, although not especially to me, and delicious, fun challenges to base a meal around.
frisee salad in citrus vinaigrette with pomegranate seeds and hazelnut parmesan
Bread first, right? Yummmm.
Here in California, the early fall weather is near 100 degrees, so I made both the soup and the pate a day ahead and served them chilled.
Soup was very simple, and maybe not for all palates, but a worthy starting point. First I halved and cored two whole gravenstein apples, cut a small red onion into big chunks, and grabbed a few sprigs of thyme and sage, then brushed them with olive oil before giving them a 20-minute bake in the toaster oven. The cooked ingredients went into the blender with two cans of cannellini, water, and salt and pepper. Finally, the resulting puree got a gentle simmer (maybe half an hour?) before it went into the fridge. To serve, I garnished with some fried whole sage leaves and a sprinkling of the hazelnut parmesan I made for the salad.
The salad was a bit more colorful. My dressing consisted of juice of one orange, olive oil, a little bit of mustard, a dash of sweetener (I used coconut nectar), a splash of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, and a little salt and pepper. At the market I picked up a huge head of frisee, which is bitter and pretty and ought to stand up well to a strong, sweet dressing like that, so I pulled out the more tender greens in the middle, washed them, and gave them a quick spin to dry before tossing. Hazelnut parmesan was quick and easy–handful or two of nuts with a generous shake of nooch and let it ride (in the spice grinder, food processor, or blender, you pick your poison)–and ultimately tossed with the salad and extra sprinkled on to serve, along with those beautiful pomegranate jewels.
Fall cooking is possibly the most fun. So many great vegetables are still available, and between MoFo and Thanksgiving prep, I’ve got menus on my mind. This was a quiet weeknight dinner on a hot “what seasons?” kind of night, but maybe for a minute those nuts and seeds meant a little something, even to me.
This is basically how I cook every day – I shop at the farmers’ market like it’s a religion – but living in Northern California means so much great stuff is in season for a long time, even during this drought. Still, things do come and go. The end of summer tends to have beautiful tomatoes and squash, along with lovely greens, onions, and root vegetables, and all of these are among my favorite things.
To shake things up a little, I wanted to try some new things:
Wild fried rice with roasted delicata squash and beets (+ onion, shallot, cilantro, red pepper flakes)
Cherry tomato chutney (with shallots and apple cider vinegar) over baked tofu
Steamed kale, because greens are a requirement
I’ll have to make the chutney again–it was easy and delicious.
“What three endless food supplies would you take if you were going to be stranded on an island? (Imagine your nutritional needs have been met, these are a bonus!)”
Chocolate, pineapple, and nutritional yeast.
Not because I think they GO together – far from it. But they each scratch a proverbial itch.
Chocolate is obvious. I’m sure it’s on 95% of these responses. There are some problems only chocolate can solve, at least temporarily (like the nagging need for chocolate). Bonus points if it has nuts. Extra magic points if it fails to melt in the tropical heat.
Pineapple may well be present on the island, if I’m lucky and this isn’t some horrible Naked & Afraid scenario where the best you can hope for are young coconuts and a machete. At any rate, it’s my favorite fruit, and it’s tasty and refreshing. If I’m stranded with my rabbit friends, they can enjoy it too. Plus if you’re bored you can make a game of hacking it up as pretty as you can, or as violently (i.e. cutting off the eyes). I have and would eat again fresh pineapple from a street vendor in countries where Americans are told never to eat uncooked street food, that’s how much I like it. I brought home two white pineapples from Hawaii once and wished I’d known they would let us bring more. It’s the only non-locally-grown fruit I eat on a semi-regular basis. God, I love pineapple.
Nutritional yeast is just to make the “nutritional needs” a little more interesting. Better than salt? It’s the thing I’m most likely to buy from a local grocery store while traveling. Maybe that is unlikely to apply on a deserted island, but I have only my experience and taste buds to guide me. Nooch goes with everything, therefore, nooch goes with me.
My mom is an awesome cook. She can feed armies and menu plan with the best of them. Of course she taught me to cook, too–I’ve been in the kitchen as long as I can remember. (I made up my own, admittedly terrible, cookie recipe in the 1st grade.) Perhaps my mom’s most requested dessert is boccone dolce, a layer cake of sorts with meringue, chocolate, fresh whipped cream, and strawberries. After I went vegan, I thought I’d never get to enjoy it again, but then I heard about the vegan meringue group on Facebook and how people were using canned bean liquid to replace egg whites, calling it aquafaba. Armed with a stand mixer, I had to give it a try.
However, the first time I attempted this didn’t go so well. So I took more precautions this time. And I didn’t use my silpat – if I gotta clean disintegrated sugary goop off of something, it might as well be parchment.
I used The Homemade Vegan Pantry’s recipe this time, which relies on flax egg whites that are frozen, then defrosted and whipped. Xanthan gum is added, presumably for stability. And, miraculously, it WORKED. Not as beautiful and crispy and perfect as my mom’s, but it should do the job.
The whipped cream comes from the same book – almond milk pureed with cashews, then whipped fluffy. Except…not so fucking much. The mixture was chilled overnight (as instructed), but when I put it in the mixer, it broke – the fat separated from the liquid. I tried re-melting and re-freezing, to no avail. So I just re-blended it and let it chill for a bit. A rich, scoopable cream isn’t too terrible, if you don’t know what you meant for it to be, right?
The chocolate is simple melted dark chocolate, which I smoothed out with a little almond milk to ensure it would spread well without crushing the delicate meringues. Of course…things deflated and softened overnight. Not exactly the texture I was going for, but maybe still good. I mean, meringue isn’t supposed to be bendy.
And strawberries? Luckily we have a long summer here in California, and my market is on Sunday (today!), so it’s the final piece of the puzzle. At least that’s hard to fuck up, but I wouldn’t put it past me today.
Oh, strawberries, you still get me, right?
Anyway…after all that disappointment, I decided the best thing I could do was to make it into a taco.
That makes it look tastier than it actually was. The cream had a good flavor, as did the chocolate. The “meringue” was a big nothing. The strawberries failed to stand out (thx, strawberries, next time I’ll just use raspberries, maybe they will appreciate it more) but it was fine.
Oh well. Onwards and upwards. Next few days’ themes are a lot more up my alley, or at least I planned them better, I hope.