Register this post under my official complaint department! I was surfing searching the ‘net last night and discovered something rather odd on my Google search results. There were two little buttons nest to each result, one that allowed me to “promote” the link, and another to “remove” it. Now I realize that Google has long since stopped pretending to “Do No Evil” (it’s unofficial corporate mantra), but can turning Google searches into a huge popularity contest really improve the search results I get from the open web?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a member of several networks and websites that allow for ranking, promotion of sites and content, and even removing content from my personal view. I liken it to the independent bookstore I work at in the summertime; after several years both the employees and several of the regular customers have reviews written on 3×5 index cards that are prominently displayed on the shelves, informing shoppers of favorites or the details of a book that they want to know more about that they can’t get from inside flaps. Quite helpful for those looking around and aren’t sure what to purchase (one reason that Amazon is so popular).
The big beef I have with Google’s promotion links (and it looks like others do too) is that I really don’t want other people’s opinions affecting my search results of the open web. When I walk into the bookstore, I know that if I don’t like a recommendation, I can still see lots of other choices on the shelf. But if enough people starting removing a particular search result from their searches, does that mean Google may decide it might be a good idea to remove that search result for everyone? Now I can’t even see some of the choices. I think I might be blowing this out of proportion a bit, but the ramifications of allowing the more social element of highlighting “favorites” and removing “undesirables” just doesn’t fit with Google’s attempt to catalog everyone know website and piece of media on the planet.
Granted, for now it’s only available for people who login to their Google accounts; I’m just hoping that it stays that way until there’s a very clear reason as to why the options to promote a link and remove a link are there. I really don’t need to put up with the artificial search result and rick-rolling that goes on at Digg to start showing up in my Google searches.