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How Google Trends & News Pollute the Web

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the cesspools-begin-at-home dept.

Google 101

Danny Sullivan's hard-hitting piece at Search Engine Land calls on Google to quit being evil in one particular way: collaborating with sleazy websites that jump on Google Trends to grab advertising revenue, as Google itself rakes it in. "Google's CEO Eric Schmidt has quite famously been on record many times talking about how the Web is full of garbage. It's a cesspool out there, he's said. Today, a short fast look at how his own company pollutes the Web. ... That [example of an off-topic, trend-following] page isn't adding any value to the web. If it didn't exist, we wouldn't be the less savvy... But thanks to Google Trends, we've got a big red flag up in front of publishers that wish to pollute Google's results with this type of garbage. ... On the one hand, I love Google Trends. It's fun seeing what the top terms are that are sparking interest... On the other hand, it's clear how much [garbage] Google has caused to be generated, simply by publishing the trends. But that garbage wouldn't happen, if it didn't know it was going to be rewarded. It is, both with traffic from Google and from revenue from Google for those carrying its ads."

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hard hitting? (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054842)

What the hell is this guy's point? Bing could release a "trends" the same as google, yet everyone is acting like google is god.

If anything, a blog post on a site called search engine land, which is all about SEO, hating on google, sounds like a competitor disliking their own competitor.

Chocomize! (4, Funny)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054916)

His point is to write an article about how people will write articles about Chocomize to draw traffic to their site because Chocomize shows up in google trends. It allows him to use many words from google trends inside said article (I didn't count the occurences of the word "Chocomize", but I had never seen so many occurences of this word in a single page), thus drawing attention to his article.

Chocomize.

Re:Chocomize! (4, Insightful)

johnhennessy (94737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055014)

I'm sorry, but lets take a step back here ...

This sounds like a glitch in the search algorithm than anything else. Publishing trends is interesting, and can allow us to learn more about what we (as a species) do with the internet. This information is clearly abused by a few (who then go out and write fake page which use the popular keywords to attract attention to their page), but this is an abuse of the Trends information that google provides, not something inherently evil.

Google (or any search engine) could just tweak their results to reduce the importance of sites which are written *after* a topic became trendy. At least to give the existing articles a head start. Or I can imagine a million other ways in which they could tweak the algorithm.

But I don't think what the article is implying (that google should stop publishing Trends) should be taken seriously.

Re:Chocomize! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33055064)

Google (or any search engine) could just tweak their results to reduce the importance of sites which are written *after* a topic became trendy.

Yea, that might not work so well for developing news stories. Yea, a CNN puff piece on Chocomize really only needs the one article that started it, but a trend like a political election, the latest news is significantly more relevant than the first.

Re:Chocomize! (2, Interesting)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055074)

They could detect articles that are duplicates of previous articles and penalize that.

Re:Chocomize! (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055504)

Or Google could just make it easier for me to blacklist entire sites from appearing on google search.

Currently you have to tinker around with Google's custom search[1], and it's kinda klunky when there are hundreds of linkspam sites.

The "whack-a-mole" needs to be easier.

Yes I even tried a few firewall plugins but they didn't work so well. Maybe things have improved since.

[1] http://www.ehow.com/how_6752589_create-blacklist-google-search-results_.html [ehow.com]

Re:Chocomize! (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056664)

And get slashdot of google?!

Re:Chocomize! (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#33057104)

/. articles are not just duplicates: editors always write a new summary of each story underlying points of interests from the original article and asking the right question about what the article implies for people interested in its subject.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

markhb (11721) | more than 4 years ago | (#33059418)

You don't actually read the articles, do you?

Or maybe you're quoting from some proposal CmdrTaco and Hemos wrote when they were still in college?

Chocomize!

Re:Chocomize! (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#33060800)

It would make it a lot easier to find articles on a subject from before some big event. They become virtually impossible to locate after that event if you can't filter by date.

Re:Chocomize! (4, Insightful)

whencanistop (1224156) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055038)

To be fair, I think he is more ranting about the fact that he noticed that Chocomize was trending (for whatever reason) and he had to plough through hundreds of spam sites before finding the real reason that it was trending (the CNN article). Why are the spam sites there? Because the CNN article caused people to search for the term, pushed it up on Google trends, automated tools caused some sites to create new pages that Google then index higher. Google could fix this by improving their news algorithm.

Is it Chocomise in the UK, just out of interest?

Re:Chocomize! (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055918)

Or modify their ranking algorithm to smack down these spammers. For example, just pick a few very unrelated trend keywords/phrases. Then find sites which are turning up for these set of unrelated keywords. After some sanity checks, rank the sites down.

And remember that xkcd coined word ( http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/05/13/183221 [slashdot.org] )? You can use stuff like that to find a whole bunch of sites to exclude.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055958)

No, but it should be.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33057080)

He only had to plough through hundreds of spam sites because he was an idiot. The Chocomize blog (which is sooo hard to find) already has the explanation. How about going straight to the source instead of always submitting to Goggle? http://www.chocomize.com/blog [chocomize.com]

Re:Chocomize! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33057290)

Mod Parent Up! Everything else is just chocomize.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

Doggabone (1025394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33075118)

Mod Parent Up! Everything else is just chocomize.

My new catchphrase. It is the current trend, after all.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33057616)

Those totally irrelevant spam sites were on Google News, not just general Google search.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062364)

And searching for the original term from a google trends is too hard. Afterall, it is so many clicks to turn a news search into an internet search.

Re:Chocomize! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055560)

His point is to write an article about how people will write articles

I still don't understand how the "trend-seeking" articles "pollute" the web, unless you are using Google as your only guide to web content.

I find that I visit many more sites from links on pages that I visit regularly than sites found searching google. An example, I suppose, would be something like Boing Boing. If you were to do a pie chart of the day's browsing, I think it would show more links coming from boing boing and slashdot and a few sites that I don't care to mention due to their political sensitivity than it would sites I visited thanks to a google search.

Google is a decent search engine, and I like the widgets on the iGoogle, but once I check the weather and my RSS reader I only use google for specific searches, like recipes for pinto bean casserole or Greek fire. Are there really people who use google as their one-stop guide to the internets?

Re:Chocomize! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055802)

So in other words, he's polluting the web?

Re:Chocomize! (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055840)

Did...did you just say "meow"?

Re:hard hitting? (1, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054930)

I don't think he even understands how the ads work. He's viewing pages which mention chocolate, so the ads end up being about chocolate. Yet he somehow thinks that this is because of Google Trends? If he reloaded the page he'd get slightly different ads, yet he seems to talk like each page only has one set of static ads o_0

Re:hard hitting? (1, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054948)

Also should mention that I thought TFS was talking about those stupid ads you get on Google's search results that have clearly just been generated specifically tailored to your search. I thought that they were generated on the fly though, rather than from Trends.

That doesn't seem to be what the guy is beefing about.

Re:hard hitting? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055006)

I don't think he even understands how the ads work.

All you have to understand is that

  1. Google Trends tells people when a key word gets hot (like 'Chocomize').
  2. Websites of ill repute watch this and then gank content from CNN about some fluff piece on Chocomize.
  3. The websites that gank the content vie for the top seats in the "organic" part of search results (not the advertisement part of Google's search results).
  4. When the user is selects any of these websites (and in the case of chocomize there are many), they are hosting Google ads so Google actually profits from this misbehavior.

The author of the article is complaining that Google encourages poor behavior and then turns a dime on it through whatever ads end up being hosted at the websites that don't produce any actual content. You can claim they don't know this is happening or they don't care or they are laughing all the way to the bank. Either way the author appears to be correct in his analysis although you cannot be certain that Trends is where the crap websites find which terms are hot. Other sites could possibly measure this but would require a lot of indexing and resources to do so. So it's most likely Google Trends.

Re:hard hitting? (2, Interesting)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055360)

So it's most likely Google Trends.

It should also be noted that the guy's only "case study" has to do with an article poached from CNN. While Google Trends makes a likely culprit, this misbehavior could just as easily have started by people watching the "top articles" on CNN.

It's even possible that the article poachers gain their "content" from multiple sources. It doesn't take much effort to copy-paste every time you see a high traffic article.

Re:hard hitting? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055842)

Ah, that'll teach me to SkimTFA.

The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33059670)

The real question is actually the following: when people create these spam sites, why the heck do they get ranked highly enough on Google to actually *matter*? Why do they appear in, say, the top 10 results, even the first couple of pages?

Re:The real question (1)

fishizzle (901375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063970)

Because for certain keywords, especially made up ones like "chocomize", there is very little competition to get on the top of the first page.

Re:The real question (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 4 years ago | (#33065136)

You only see the failures to detect spam, not the successes. For every PhD Google has working on search ranking, there are probably 1000+ "dark side of SEO" people trying to subvert the system. Combining those two points, you are going to see spam sometimes.

In a related category, we still have spam email, even though there are entire companies devoted to filtering it.

Re:hard hitting? (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | more than 4 years ago | (#33066042)

He's an ageing journalist. He doesn't understand the internet, but he does understand publicity. We've been trolled folks.

Re:hard hitting? (1)

dannysullivan (104589) | more than 4 years ago | (#33075366)

You're funny. I don't understand the internet. Um, I've been using it since 1994. That long enough for you? Been writing about search since before there was a Google. And trolled? What on earth are you talking about. I wrote a story for my readers, on my site. Someone submits it over here. Didn't ask for that to happen. Didn't encourage it. Don't even know it had happened. And that's trolling Slashdot?

Re:hard hitting? (1)

dannysullivan (104589) | more than 4 years ago | (#33074606)

The point was in the opening paragraph of the story. Google's CEO complains that the web is full of garbage. But his own company helps generate that garbage by publishing breaking, popular topics and then failing to police the results that show up, which is handy because most of that garbage also carries ads from Google, which earns Google money.

Bing publishes trends like Google. So do many other search engines. But they don't have near the network of earning off the garbage that those trends generate, as Google does. And they don't have a CEO who complains that the web is a cesspool.

By the way, Search Engine Land is a site about search. A respected site. A site that is granted interviews with Google routinely, including one with Schmidt himself last year, where I talked with him about the "sewage" issue. Do a search for "Google CEO Eric Schmidt On Newspapers & Journalism" and you'll get that long interview. I don't want to drop a link and hit some spam filter here.

SEO is part of search, as is the quality of search results. This story was hating on Google, and Google had that coming to it. It was returning stories that were simply embarrassing to it, given the amount of effort it has been doing recently to talk about how great its search results are -- over and above the usual efforts it does. But I understand this, because that's my job. I track Google regularly.

It has nothing to do with a competitor. Most of the "news" sites I wrote about aren't news sites at all, and I'm hardly trying to bring in visitors by writing about candy bars.

Incoming incessant sopssa/SquarePixel trolling ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33054874)

sopssa = SquarePixel = fucking worthless troll. Remember it moderators!

Peace out!

Who cares? (3, Interesting)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054878)

Certainly not Google. Or me, for that matter. The Big G's business model is built on the premise that storage is cheap, and that value is provided by being able to never delete anything, but make it available through a powerful search engine. When did you last delete something out of Gmail, for example?
There are whole industries around SEO and it seems naive to think that people aren't going to create/alter content in order to get a higher ranking. Does it matter?

Re:Who cares? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054934)

... it seems naive to think that people aren't going to create/alter content in order to get a higher ranking.

Well, it certainly is naive to think that considering that Google encourages it [google.com] and they offer a PDF Starter Guide [googleusercontent.com] that instructs you how to alter your title, description and meta tags in your website to better your chances of coming up in the "organic" (not adwords) section of search results.

Does it matter?

Well, that's the article's argument. That it does matter because Google complains of the internet being a cesspool and yet here they are encouraging it with Trends. To you and I this is no problem. We don't care. To someone like Google that 0.1% of the end user experience might be worth millions of dollars to take care of because those end users are the eyeballs that sells their ad service to marketers of other companies. If Google perceives this to threaten the people that search their site then, yes, it does matter.

There might be some day when you sit down to use Google and you search for some popular music or terms and all you get is complete unadulterated feces on the first page of search results. And you might consider checking the other search engine pages for the same results. If this phenomena could cause that to happen then, yes, Google will care very much.

Re:Who cares? (1, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055140)

There might be some day when you sit down to use Google and you search for some popular music or terms and all you get is complete unadulterated feces on the first page of search results.

Yes, but that will most likely be because almost all "popular music or terms" are complete unadulterated feces.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33056000)

People DO click on ads on fake or trends augmented
  'news' sites - the lack of the actual substance drives click-through rates from the herd there and Google knows it well..

Re:Who cares? (1, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055010)

I delete things out of my Gmail all the time... I only keep that which is unresolved. Jokes and other things are read once, and delete. Tracking numbers and receipts for purchases are deleted when I get the item and it's in working condition. If it's expensive, I'll print off a copy of the receipt and file it.

I use the inbox as a "TODO" list and deleting something from my inbox is a good feeling.

On top of that, I occasionally go into the deleted items and remove them all from there as well.

Re:Who cares? (1)

shird (566377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055146)

You sir, need to look at the "archive" button.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33055488)

You sir, need to look at the "archive" button.

Not everything is worth archiving.

I've never been a fan of GMail's "keep everything, because we provide a search bar" attitude. I'd rather organize the emails that have value, and delete the other 90%.

Re:Who cares? (1)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056204)

Why? If it's not worth saving, why archive it? My workflow is very similar, although I do have a couple of folders where I store a few dozen emails that I may need in the future.

Re:Who cares? (1)

shird (566377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33063468)

Because it costs nothing to archive it, and it saves you from having to make the decision of whether to save or delete it. (and the added steps to delete vs archive in gmail). It also saves you the pain of accidentally deleting something you meant to keep. You often don't realise you need something until you go to find it years from now.

Your inbox can still remain clean and you can still use "folders" to organise your mail.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055416)

When did you last delete something out of Gmail, for example?

As soon as I download them via POP3 into Thunderbird. But then, I'm paranoid regarding my data and don't wish to leave it on hardware that I don't own and control.

Re:Who cares? (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055684)

Huh? It's *too late* by then. Google's already indexed all your mail by the time you get to read it, so if you're worried about privacy then using Gmail seems obtuse.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33056470)

The privacy policy suggests that the data is eventually removed from their servers.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33056336)

I'm paranoid regarding my data and don't wish to leave it on hardware that I don't own and control.

And you don't think Google keeps any sort of logs? At all?

No. Of course not, that would never happen. Sleep well with your 'privacy' intact.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056492)

There's a difference between keeping logs of the e-mail metadata and retaining the messages themselves but I wouldn't expect an AC to make such distinctions.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056366)

As soon as I download them via POP3 into Thunderbird. But then, I'm paranoid regarding my data and don't wish to leave it on hardware that I don't own and control.

I on the other hand view anyone who really wants to view my entire email history as completely demented and think they deserve to read the decades worth of drivel that I have accumulated as punishment for being nosy.

To be honest though, I know my bank accumulate all the data of everything I have ever bought. I know there are various secretive credit reference agencies that store all sorts of data about me. I can only ask them to send me a copy, I cannot legally stop them unless they hold inaccurate information . I know there also know there are more shady companies the illegally hold data about my political affiliations and allow potential employers to search it.

I know that there are millions of other ways big companies snoop on my life and I have given up worrying about it. It is unfortunate but we have to realise we have almost no privacy left in this digital age. We can try and minimise our exposure, but I have long since just decided I am happy for people to know most things about me.

My real name is VERY similar to my slashdot ID so anyone who knew me would instantly realise who I am from this or any other post.

Here are a few interesting links:

http://www.peoplecheck.co.uk/ [peoplecheck.co.uk]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_check [wikipedia.org]
http://background-check-services-review.toptenreviews.com/ [toptenreviews.com]

This company has been closed down last year but I bet there are others:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/may/27/construction-worker-blacklist-database1 [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056550)

but I have long since just decided I am happy for people to know most things about me.

Good for you. I'm not.

My real name is VERY similar to my slashdot ID

Whose fault is that?

Re:Who cares? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#33060438)

Good for you. I'm not.

Then go live in a cave and give up making all financial transactions with anything other than cash. Sorry, but that is the world we live in.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33060560)

I use cash for most of my transactions anyway. I don't see any reason to force small businesses to pay a 2-5% tax on my purchase just so I can avoid paying for it until next month.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#33067618)

I use cash for most of my transactions anyway. I don't see any reason to force small businesses to pay a 2-5% tax on my purchase just so I can avoid paying for it until next month.

Not sure about where you live, but here in the UK credit cards also give you insurance for the item purchased since they bought the item. If I buy expensive PC bits I use my credit card so if the company I buy off go broke before sending me the goods I get a refund from the bank. That is damn ass handy.

I also like not carrying very much cash around due to my fondness for getting drunk and then walking home.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33068270)

Most cards in the US don't have that kind of insurance but they do come with other benefits like chargeback protection that you won't get with cash or a debit card. I'll use a credit card for online purchases (obviously) or big ticket items but I don't feel the need to run my daily grocery purchases through it.

Re:Who cares? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#33057416)

When did you last delete something out of Gmail, for example?

About fifteen minutes ago.
 
In fact, I delete far more than I archive because probably 90% of the (non spam) email I receive are either trivial or of limited time value.

Goat Sex (-1, Offtopic)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054880)

Trends for Goat, horse, camel and sheep sex - http://www.jesusandmo.net/2010/07/26/sheep/

Except... (2, Insightful)

Netshroud (1856624) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054884)

TFA did almost what TFA is crying against. It just doesn't have the ads.

Garbage? (1)

JokkVahl (702631) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054894)

My sweet internet full of garbage ? What nonsense ! *sends goatse link to eric*

Tell me about it. (4, Interesting)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054912)

I started using using google blog search to create an RSS feed of topics I'm interested. Gradually I started using regex to filter out sites that were clearly just spam sites. Now my regex statement is about 20K in size, and out of 150 results that Google returns, I may have 4 or 5 stories that make it through the filter.

Re:Tell me about it. (2, Funny)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056444)

Now my regex statement is about 20K in size

I almost fainted when I read that...

SEO and Google (0)

WhiteHorse-The Origi (1147665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054920)

Google trends hasn't helped my sight at ALL!! Digital Networking [digitalnetworking.biz]

Re:SEO and Google (1)

Netshroud (1856624) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054936)

Duh, your site needs some customizable chocolate.

Re:SEO and Google (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055698)

Google trends hasn't helped my sight at ALL!!

You might try searching for "eyeglasses" or "contact lenses." That would help your sight.

And the solution is? (4, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054954)

So should Google shut down Google Trends? Block it from their ad customers? Somehow force them to ignore it? What the hell does he expect/want/think how in a perfect world this would work?

There's no point to this article. It's claiming an evil conspiracy just because Google Trends exists.

Re:And the solution is? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055176)

They should be a little choosier about where they are willing to put ads.

Really, their other providers of advertising space are the ones who should complain, they want legitimate, high value advertising on their sites, not internet-cesspool advertising.

Re:And the solution is? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055964)

> Really, their other providers of advertising space are the ones who should
> complain, they want legitimate, high value advertising on their sites...

They control what appears on their sites.

Re:And the solution is? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056102)

Of course they do. But Google wants them to place Google advertising on their sites, so Google needs to avoid tarnishing the Google brand, which means Google might listen to their complaints about what Google is doing elsewhere.

Google.

Re:And the solution is? (1)

dannysullivan (104589) | more than 4 years ago | (#33074732)

What the hell I want them to do was explained in the article:

"It shouldn’t be that hard for Google to police what shows up in response to what it publishes on Google Trends. Spam sites ought to be nabbed. AdSense sites ought to be shut down. News publishers abusing the very lucky position they have of being in Google News, by routinely tapping into Google Trends topics that aren’t relevant to their publications, should get the boot."

These aren't unreasonable things. These are things Google should be doing already, to ensure the quality of its results. It's failing to do that. That's the point of the article, to highlight how badly they're doing.

Spend some time on Google Trends, go to the news results that come up and start looking more closely at the "stories" you get. You'll see huge amounts of junk -- outright gibberish. That's not what the world's most popular search engine should be returning.

Tools (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054962)

So, Google is Evil because they release a useful tool that slimy people are abusing?

Re:Tools (1)

Netshroud (1856624) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054970)

So Chatroulette is innocent?

Re:Tools (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055044)

Yeah, interesting trend. Don't blame the person abusing, blame the person providing. All of societies woes seemed to be blamed on the person providing a service, and not the person using it.

Re:Tools (1)

shird (566377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055234)

The spammers would just get the trending topics from twitter or a news search or even just watching the news on TV. This is all much ado about nothing, the author just sees the spam and the trending topics and has jumped to a conclusion.

Stop that (3, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#33054994)

Then just quit doing searches for Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

Re:Stop that (1)

johnhennessy (94737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055036)

... great now this post will make this article appear as "fake" when you want to really find articles which are relevant to Britney and Lindsay ...

Re:Stop that (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055878)

> ...articles which are relevant to Britney and Lindsay ...

How can there be relevant articles about irrelevant people?

So Google is bad for being transparent? (4, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055022)

So Google is bad for being transparent and releasing data which is aggregated and highly anonymous? It is a good thing I don't run Google because after enough articles like this I'd be tempted to say "you know, we get so much crap even when we're being helpful. Let's see what happens if we just try to act really, really evil for a few months." Seriously, this criticism comes down to Google releasing interesting data which in the long run could be actually useful to sociologists and other academics. It already has been used to help accurately get an idea of where the common flu is and how bad it is at any given time http://www.google.org/flutrends/ [google.org] . And the complaint in TFA is that unethical people can abuse this data at the margins. The obvious question is whether that minor abuse outweighs the positive good created by having this data. At least for me, the answer seems to be know, but that's partially because I have a strong ideological commitment to transparency and openness. When in doubt, give people access to data when it can be done easily.

Re:So Google is bad for being transparent? (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055134)

The part I find most irritating is that Google also profits from the actions of the abusers (because the abusers are using Google advertising).

The problem with crowd widdom (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33055042)

The problem with naive crowd wisdom, like the one generated by Google Trends,
is that it's generally untrue that most people like what people like most.
The average "like" of people is not the "like" of the average person.
What people like most is the lowest common denominator.

Ironically, when publishers adopt that fallacy, they create the garbage that gives Google relative value, by reducing even more value from other ways of data consumption.
So the negative effect of Google Trends works great for Google.

Idea and media makes profit (2, Insightful)

Maarek (213279) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055168)

These guys got lucky and hope to keep going with their chocolate idea. The only thing is that they need to keep their idea going. By being near the top of Google's search list, they will make money until it wavers. The CNN news story is the ground breaking story, now they would need to advertise on Television and maybe make an appearance on a show for a few minutes to make a huge profit for the company to survive on.

Why not, (1)

ctchristmas (1821682) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055256)

use bing.

I probably should have invested in a helmet before suggesting anyone on slashdot use anything made by Microsoft.

Re:Why not, (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055788)

I was going to say, "because their results will look the same anyway"... but I checked first and theirs are actually quite relevant - so I have to say that I don't use it because it makes me look at a picture I don't want to see every time I visit the site ;)

On the other hand - I did the same search at google, and lo! the results were actually fine. I guess the blogger is specifically talking about the news search results?

Will only hurt google in the end (0, Redundant)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055290)

Advertisers aren't stupid. Google ads are only worthwhile if they're actually generating revenue for the advertiser. Eventually, if they keep allowing this sort of practice, it's only going to drive down their own ad revenue (as advertisers realize they're not getting as much revenue from their ads as they once were).

Re:Will only hurt google in the end (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055580)

Why would it? People following twitter feeds and bored enough to follow google trends are probably an ok-good demographic. The ads were all relevant. And if someone wanted to melt a bunch of candy together the ads were right there. Seriously, all the ads were on various types of candy and one party favours shop.

Re:Will only hurt google in the end (2, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055798)

Advertisers aren't stupid. Google ads are only worthwhile if they're actually generating revenue for the advertiser. Eventually, if they keep allowing this sort of practice, it's only going to drive down their own ad revenue (as advertisers realize they're not getting as much revenue from their ads as they once were).

If someone clicks on an advertisement then buys, does it really matter which spam site they arrived through? There's nothing that suggests they're getting less revenue; in fact, they may be getting more since the ads themselves will be relevant to what is searched for.

Re:Will only hurt google in the end (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#33059336)

If someone clicks on an advertisement then buys, does it really matter which spam site they arrived through? There's nothing that suggests they're getting less revenue; in fact, they may be getting more since the ads themselves will be relevant to what is searched for.

In the short term, no, it does not really matter.

In the long term, yes, it does really matter. If people click through certain spam sites to make a purchase, then those spam sites are rewarded, and therefore the creation of yet more and more spam sites is incentivized. That in turn causes the signal-to-noise ratio of the internet to drop still further.

In any case, it's up to google to reward high-signal sites with higher rankings, and turn a blind eye to the screenscraped drek churned out by the SEOs, because for so many of us, the internet *is* the google search results.

Re:Will only hurt google in the end (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33061446)

Sure; but for the people whose products are being bought, I would argue that even in the long term there's no negative (unfortunately). THere will *always* be people who click the links and make purchases -- no matter what site they're coming from. This means that vendors will continue to get value from investing in google adwords

Not just trends (4, Insightful)

shird (566377) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055312)

Why would the spammers only copy trending topics? Why not just screen scrape everything from cnn.com and add ads? They do.

It just looks like they are only targeting trends because Google picks up on that stuff and aggregates it when it is a hot topic, so you see more of it.

Spammers don't need the trends, they are screen scraping everything, or just the headlines. This has been going on forever, long before "trends" existed. There are just more of them, and they are getting better at making their spam farms and increasing their page-rank, such that their screen scraped content is actually beating the site they copied from in the results.

Sadly it's only going to get worse, as it's too easy for even a single person to create many terabytes of auto-generated spam. Multiply that by the thousands of spammers doing it every minute.

The question is why can't Google fight it (2, Insightful)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33062618)

Let's say you're right. Now Google has an index for cnn.com, and an index for spamdomain.com. Presumably the timestamps on the cnn.com pages are a bit earlier since it takes time for spamdomain.com to scrape and republish the content, and then for Google to index the new content on spamdomain.com.

I'm no computer scientist but it seems that this is the sort of data mirroring that should be pretty easy to spot algorithmically. If two domains share >80% of the exact same content, de-emphasize the one with later timestamps.

The provocative theory is that Google doesn't care which site ranks first, as long as its ads are being served on both. Or worse, that Google allows the crap to float to the top if it is carrying Google ads, and cnn.com is not.

Is the theory right? Who knows besides Google? Perhaps it is not so easy for the algorithm to distinguish what to our minds is obvious spamming. And one of the things that Google is up-front about is that if they can't do it algorithmically, they're not interested in it.

Advertisers have turned the net into slime* (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055346)

What else is new? Try to find drivers and service manuals... Virtually all the results are spam sites.. I got better returns 20 years ago when Compuserve was king.

*Kinda reminds me of a nerdy news site that treats binspam as actual news on its front page. Eh... all part of the dumbing down process.

Implied Assumptions Are Everything (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055608)

IMHO, there are a couple of assumptions being made, by various parties, in this discussion. One is that the things people search for most frequently are are of some intrinsic value, which is clearly not always the case. The other is that those frequently searched for things are of value because they were often searched for. From a monetization point of view, that is a perfectly valid assumption but to extend that logic beyond the "can I make money off of this trend" question is, I submit, folly. The latest box scores, Lindsay Lohan dirt, or fake-reality show buzz may be "hot topics" but hardly of consequence when compared against, well..., the real world. So let's be careful and keep that distinction in mind when discussing whether or not Google "pollutes the web". That so many people can't make that distinction I find far, far more troubling than the mere fact that Google is holding up a mirror to our society's collective values.

Can you actually replicate this article's issue? (2, Insightful)

mhwombat (1616301) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055650)

When I google for "Chocomize", my top three results are the source chocolate-making company - not spam. The fourth, the only thing remotely resembling pollution, is this searchengineland article itself.

Also, if this is an issue, I really don't think the right solution is to hide the information.

Re:Can you actually replicate this article's issue (1)

Lythrdskynrd (1823332) | more than 4 years ago | (#33058134)

The problem is that there *IS* an issue of spammy stuff while the topic is trending. I'm sure chocomize has died down since he wrote the article, but I also used to have trends on my desktop so I could see what was going on in the world "right now" ... but found that I ran into the exact problem he's describing.

one particularly stand out article came out with: What does FOO actually mean? as it's link title. Then the article wen ton to say "it's trending in google and we don't know". Perfect!

There are definitely sophisticated and organized groups doing this.

This is new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33055764)

It's as if this guy thinks companies weren't spamming webpages to popular keywords before Google Trends. Did he just get the internet yesterday?

Now get off my lawn!

Web pollution via parroting (4, Funny)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 4 years ago | (#33055902)

I ran into bizarre web parroting-- a site took an article about my DIY satellite from "Wired", and (best guess) ran it through an English->Chinese translator then back to Chinese->English. So we end up with sentence-by-sentence content stealing, but with its own working, e.g.:

"Once deployed, they can put out enough power to be picked up on the ground by a hand-held amateur radio receiver." [from Wired]

"Once deployed, they can put out enough energy to be picked up on the belligerent by the hand-held pledge airwave receiver." [from Tubesat Gerber]

Or this bit

"Once the bastion of NASA and commercial satellite services, space has now become the final frontier for the do-it-yourselfer next door." [Wired]

"Once a bastion of NASA as well as blurb heavenly body services, space has right away turn the final limit for a do-it-yourselfer subsequent doorway." [Tubesat Gerber]

That's me, the blurb heavenly body service belligerent receiver!

A.
http://projectcalliope.com/ [projectcalliope.com] "Music from Space, Launching 2011"

Self-correcting problem (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33056040)

If Google's trends are causing junk sites to pop into searches, people will 'trend' away from using that as their primary source of info. That or more likely they'll start looking at the host before clicking the links. Either way, 'www.chocomize.com' would be the single best source for info on this company, and we knew that with or without Google. Didn't we?

Further I resent the implication that the author knows what is decent enough for production and what isn't. This is the web. Eyeballs and brains determine what gets looked at, not some pretentious blog somewhere. The junk sites will go away after the trend declines, and/or if no one links to them (which is genuinely likely), so all we're left with is one author's assumption that standards should be applied to the internet at large. Which I largely reject.

Analogy time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33056228)

So people are complaining because Google is making money off bad people abusing search results. I feel that people are complaining because this is something new. Lets take an example where this also happens, guns and bullets.

There are a lot of people out there that buy guns and bullets and then shoot people when those guns are intended for hunting or sport shooting, yet I don’t see anyone saying that gun companies should stop making bullets. If you followed the same logic though as this guy that is where you would end up, and with guns and bullets peoples lives are actually at stake.

Lets just admit that some people are always going to abuse the system, and sometimes that is good for the people running that specific system, but that doesn’t mean the system needs to stop.

Complaining about Google Trends ... (1)

Fippy Darkpaw (1269608) | more than 4 years ago | (#33057064)

... is so hot right now!

Start here (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#33058514)

with the viciously hate-filled, right-wing Google political ads that pop up even within Slashdot's RSS feeds. In this case, Google is no better than podunk TV stations that rake in cash at usurious rates every election season for political ads (which are 'accidentally' insanely louder than what comes before). But since Google News can't even be bothered to filter out the propagandistic Fox 'News' headlines attached to every US political story, I doubt anything will change. Fourth Estate my ass.

Content Farming and Demand Media (2, Informative)

meehawl (73285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33058980)

A US public radio show just ran a whole feature on Web 2.0 content farming [pbs.org] . Wired also ran this piece on one of the main polluters, Demand Media [wired.com] , a while back, explaining how it uses algorithmically driven keyword generators that grab "hot" (ie, adclick revenue-generating) trends from, among others, source such as Google Trends, then farms out a skeleton of an article with the required keywords to an extremely poorly paid human whose job it is to string together acceptably human-readable inter-keyword verbiage to flesh out an "article".

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