Let's say I have a hotel booking website. Once the user chooses a date and a location the website will list all available hotel rooms in a given area. Each hotel room comes with many attributes, for instance, whether has a pool, offers free wifi, includes a breakfast, whether it requires a deposit and is refundable, etc.

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The problem in the real world is that the information about all those different hotels comes from multiple aggregators and "distribution systems" and these often do not provide the same attributes. So it can happen that a hotel has a beautiful pool but it is "distributed" through a system that does not even have a data field for pools. This poses a great problem to the ability to filter results. Of course, the easiest thing to do is to filter only by the information that is available: if we don't know whether a hotel has a pool, don't show it when filtering by pools. But this only works when unknown attributes are rather rare, not when a substantial part of the attributes can be unknow.

Is there a way to show the "unknown/maybe" result? Or is the filtering parading not suitable at all when the uncertainty of available attributes is too high?

  • I guess it depends on how useful the 'unknown/maybe' result is to the user. If a significant amount of results come up with this status then maybe it is more useful if by default they are filtered out rather than having to let the user work out whether it is worth checking through lots of entries for potentially not very much gain. – Michael Lai Sep 10 '19 at 0:29

You can list the results and mention the certainty of each match. The more uncertain they get, the lower they show up in the list.

In my example below I show the criteria with a check mark or question mark, but it could also be a number with label (like: "2 available", "availability unknown" etc.) or whatever suits the design. This is an example of results shown as cards. Hotel D could match all filter createria but also none of them:

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  • you might notice that modern search tools (Amazon, Google) yield plenty of search results that positively do not match the search specified (even when you use quotation marks etc to indicate "mandatory")! So there is precedent for this. They (generally) show perfect matches FIRST, then possible matches. jaZRo's excellent suggestion prevents the you (the computer) from LYING to the user that these are matches. – Jaime Guerrero Oct 3 at 2:12

May be if you have an automated algorithm (data mining, AI etc.) running though uploaded images of hotel and visitor's reviews, then you might find these attributes mentioned there.

Then, you can show users these attributes derived out of analysis. However, we need to clearly mention - "these facilities are found in review/photos, need to confirm with hotel". So user might want to call hotel to check this.

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