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.
I totally agree with you here! I did an in-service with our staff today and Search Wiki came up a couple of times. Imagine businesses going in and getting people to build up their positions in Google. Although that’s not much different than what happened when martinlutherking.org was “Google Bombed”. It can already be manipulated, Search Wiki just seems to make the possibility more real and easier. I’m working to teach our staff and students about verifying sites so that if Search Wiki does take off, at least a few folks in my close circle will have some skills to tell what should and shouldn’t be promoted.
Todd Williamsons last blog post..Body Structure Concept Maps
For now, this only affects how Google ranks your searches while you’re logged in, and I can see the value of that, but I’m not sure how they’d apply your personal priorities to everyone else’s search.
Ian H.s last blog post..What I read 12/04/2008
Ever since it started Google has used public perception as a key to delivering good search results. As I understand, it currently uses complex algorithms based how how pages link to each other to influence page rank. If more pages link to you then you are probably a good source and if you are a highly ranked source and you link to a site then their ranking will increase.
I assume if they take Search Wiki into account at some point in the future it will only be one more piece of a very complex puzzle.
I would also add that Google is really good at getting people to use their search engine. They ensure this by delivering the best search results. If this changes then people will begin going elsewhere for search. Bottom line, I’m not worried yet.
Steve Dickies last blog post..Ancient Rome in 3D for Google Earth
Todd: Glad I’m not the only one who was a bit concerned. Making the process for manipulating Google Searches that much more transparent means that many more unexperienced individuals (kids) may be led to commercial and/or blatantly inappropriate sites.
Ian: They’ve said that others will be able to see your search comments on their search results, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just precarious since Google is so ubiquitous as a search engine.
Steve: The fact that Google is very good at getting people to use their search engine is what disturbs me. As any one company/institution/organization continues to amass information and resources we must become increasingly wary. While I know that Google has a certain modicom of “good faith”, but that only goes so far. As long as individual’s preferences for search don’t affect the algorithms that Google uses for it’s open search, then we’re okay.
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