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Hard-Coded Bias In Google Search Results?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the where-the-pigeons-roost dept.

Google 257

bonch writes "Technology consultant Benjamin Edelman has developed a methodology for determining the existence of a hard-coded bias in Google's search engine which places Google's services at the top of the results page. Searching for a stock ticker places Google Finance at the top along with a price chart, but adding a comma to the end of the query removes the Google link completely. Other variations, such as 'a sore throat' instead of 'sore throat,' removes Google Health from its top position. Queries in other categories provide links to not only Google services but also their preferred partners. Though Google claims it does not bias its results, Edelman cites a 2007 admission from Google's Marissa Mayers that they placed Google Finance at the top of the results page, calling it 'only fair' because they made the search engine. Edelman notes that Google cites its use of unbiased algorithms to dismiss antitrust scrutiny, and he recalls the DOJ's intervention in airlines providing favorable results for their own flights in customer reservation systems they owned."

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I am not sure whether this is right or wrong (4, Insightful)

MaxOfS2D (1907678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287224)

But I believe it'd be better if their own services didn't display as a result and more as a "hey look your favorite search engine has something for that" kind of thing

Re:I am not sure whether this is right or wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34288034)

If you search for "1+1" it shows the result 1+1=2 from Google's servers! OMG. Let the world crumble and fall at your feet.

Try searching for a stock such as CSCO . The top result is a stock chart with links to Google Finance, Yahoo Finance , MSN Money , DailyFinance , CNN Money, and Reuters .

That seems pretty reasonable. Searching for "CSCO" is not the same as searching for "foo". When you search for CSCO, it is doing some calculations and creating a stock chart. It would be reasonable for them to just link to Google Finance.

Google != Google. (-1, Troll)

jvillain (546827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287230)

Google != Google. Duh!!!. Beside the results are covered by free speech.

Re:Google != Google. (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287706)

so google is a nan?

Re:Google != Google. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287862)

Right, google is "Not a Number", googol is.

No Way!! (4, Funny)

revlayle (964221) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287236)

Google's search engine thinks links to Google-related stuff is more relevant? HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?!!

Re:No Way!! (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287324)

Incidentally, Google blacklisted itself like a year ago for I think Google Adwords. So it would only make sense that they guarantee their spot these days to prevent from something like this from happening again. I also don't see this as news being that any website that offers a search engine service SHOULD be biased and show their own profit making results before any other site. Would you kindly advertise Yahoo! Marketplace before Google? Haha, not a chance because that could be millions just by one consumer alone that you lose. Stories like these are written by people who either don't understand business or do understand business and are butt-hurt because they can't compete against their competitor on their competitor's website.

Re:No Way!! (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287446)

Stories like these are written by people who either don't understand business or do understand business and are butt-hurt because they can't compete against their competitor on their competitor's website.

They understand better than you do apparently.

Google is welcome to bias its results if it wants to. However, if it biases its results than it loses any claim to neutrality. Given that google is actively using its claim of neutrality elsewhere to its benefit then somehthing's got to give.

It can't take the benefits of biasing its results and the beneifts of claiming its results are unbiased.

One or the other. Not both.

Re:No Way!! (2, Insightful)

vacarul (1624873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287636)

Exactly.

Fact: Google it's more than no 1. It's the only thing that can drive traffic from searches.

Fact: first position gets most traffic. First "reserved" position (for own services) or not.

Fact: reserved positions will be occupied by Google-only services (even if those services are not the best on the web), or paying customers.

Fact: Google expanded rapidly also because they claim that every website is equal, you all have a chance just make a good website.

Now let's imagine you choose a topic A, and you build the best website there can be for said topic. You are no 1, you get the most traffic. Life it's good.

Then you read that Google it's launching their own website for topic A. This website it's not that good but it gets one of the reserved places. And now the majority of the traffic goes to Google's website. You are f???ed. How can you compete with Google in this situation?

The Google was good then they were just a search engine. Now that they are a little more, there is a conflict of interest. They hijacked the top positions by saying that that is not the top position, but a reserved position (which is at the top so it gets the most traffic).

Re:No Way!! (3, Interesting)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287964)

because god forbid you get high traffic without google. *rolls eyes*

Seriously: you completely omitted the "if I make awesome website A, and advertise it on google."
you're claiming that your website is awesome: but people are not going TO your site, people are going to your site because it was linked somewhere else. how is that unfair? you're using their name to get free advertising for your domain name essentially, and you wonder why somebody would take your "trade secret" and use it themselves?

sorry: I don't see how a site that's "the most popular" of anything can't get direct traffic.

Google seems to get a hell of a lot of direct traffic. :P

Re:No Way!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287538)

Google's search engine thinks links to Google-related stuff is more relevant? HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?!!

Isn't the point that they claim they don't? That they claim to be completely unbiased and not favor their own services? It would be like an financial advisor claiming to give you unpartial advice when he is really just pimping stuff he himself sells to you (and yes I know that happens, and I'd certainly wouldn't like it).

Surprising? (1)

zybthranger (1810790) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287242)

Is this really that surprising? No. Is it fair? Maybe. Maybe not.

Re:Surprising? (0, Flamebait)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287378)

In other news, Bing commercials have people searching for "Xbox 360". What are the odds?

weird (3, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287260)

When I search goog, in google I get a link to google finance and then in the line right under it yahoo finance, MSN money, CNN money, Daily finance and Reuters. So what exactly is the problem? It seems like perhaps someones just nitpicking.

Re:weird (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287574)

And it is quite clear that that isn't a search result, but rather some info at the top of the page.

The first actual algorithmic search result for AAPL for example is Yahoo Finance (1st two results), then Google Finance, then Wall Street Journal.

I'm in the UK so uk.finance.yahoo.com is first, then finance.yahoo.com. If you are searching in the US, then probably it doesn't show uk.finance.yahoo.com at all or it is much futher down the page along with the likes of sg.finance.yahoo.com.

Re:weird (5, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287598)

When I search goog, in google I get a link to google finance and then in the line right under it yahoo finance, MSN money, CNN money, Daily finance and Reuters. So what exactly is the problem? It seems like perhaps someones just nitpicking.

Someone seems to think they've "discovered" Google secretly "manipulating" search results when all they've done is "discover" a feature that Google is quite open about that certain search results get a special result which is not a product of the normal web-search put at the top.

Google has for quite some time been building in features that attempt to recognize the special meaning of search terms, and will respond to searches that match one of the mechanisms they have for potential meaning with a special result.

This is just as algorithmic as regular web search, but is a result of a term triggering a special algorithm (either a stock ticker symbol, which gives a special result that presents Google Finance info with links to other financial information sources, a formula that can be processed by Google Calculator in which case the calculator result appears before the normal web search results, etc.)

Re:weird (3, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287658)

It's the same thing that gives me UPS as the first link if I search for a UPS tracking number.

Re:weird (4, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287824)

Not only that, but I get the exact same feature with a graph and a link to finance.yahoo.com when I search for GOOG on yahoo and a bing.com/finance link when I search for GOOG on bing.

omg they're all biased!

I'm not evil (1)

vacarul (1624873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287262)

this had to happen sooner or later. And if we found out today, then it started happening at least two years ago.

Stupid Article (3, Insightful)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287264)

That would be like me calling up my local lawnmower store looking for a lawnmower - and getting angry that they recommended I by a lawnmower that they sold, and I should buy it from them!

If you don't like it...call a different lawnmower store!

Re:Stupid Article (-1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287302)

but what is you called a service that claimed it didn't bias the results toward any single product. Then found out there where putting there brand at the top?

OTOH. google service are so widely used and talked about, it would surprise my if they just came out on top as the natural results of an unbiased algorithmic result.

Googole, in theory, doesn't tell you what's best, only what is most talked about and referenced.

Re:Stupid Article (2, Interesting)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287358)

But don't stores, salespeople, "consultants", and brokers offer "advice" to their customers, too?

Do you believe any advise is unbiased?

Re:Stupid Article (1)

vacarul (1624873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287400)

it's not a problem of what you believe, it's a problem of what they claim.

Re:Stupid Article (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288004)

are you're saying it's alright for a car dealer to tell you that he's offering you "unbiased advice on your new car purchase" because you have a reason to doubt him, but that's it's blasphemy that google offers the exact same thing?

Re:Stupid Article (4, Informative)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287470)

It doesn't bias the results. If you look at any of the searches mentioned in the article yes the Google thing appears at the top, but it is fairly obvious it's not a web search result.

If Google sees a normal search go through that their engine thinks may be better served by running in one of their other tools, it does that and offers a small preview at the top of the page, then starts the results below. It does not change the results themselves though, and I can not see anyone confusing those previews for search results. Also, as noted where they link to their own services they also link to the same information at other sites.

No bias in the search itself, no real story, just someone who wanted to whine.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287770)

At least someone realizes this is not part of Google search. I've seen this same article on 3 different sites (late on this one again Slashdot) and no one seems to get it. Maybe no one reads the articles anymore.
If Google thinks you are looking for a news, finance, books, images, shopping... related topic, it will put items in that category at the top. There are still 10 search results on the page not counting the special items. Bing does the same thing. The next level of search requires some categorization of results instead of a completely mixed set of data. Obviously Google will start their manual categorization in areas that have high CPC rates.
When Google finishes their travel site, expect to see a "special" section up top for airfares, hotels, car rental... and I'm sure competing companies will again complain. Here, Bing is ahead of Google. Search for airfare on Bing and you get text boxes for To, From, and Travel Dates. No one is complaining about this.

Re:Stupid Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34288070)

If I wanted to get my name in the news then complaining about Google is a surefire way to make it to the front page of /.

Re:Stupid Article (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287594)

No, it's not the same. Especially not if they specifically advertise their service as being unbiased. And especially if they want to avoid antitrust scrutiny.

If you want to make analogies, it's as if the lawn mower store happens to be owned by the same company that owns the local news station, and they do a review of lawn mowers on the news. Then people would be right in complaining about bias / conflict of interest.

Whether or not Google has a right to do this legally, if they are claiming to be unbiased, it is quite reasonable for journalists to keep an eye on whether or not they are keeping their word.

Re:Stupid Article (2, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287884)

Indeed it is not the same. Because it is even less of an issue.

Google is detecting a stock symbol and putting some extra information above the actual search results! The actual search results are the same!

Re:Stupid Article (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287972)

My post assumed they were actually biasing the results themselves. For the case you describe, yeah, I have no problem with google doing that, mostly because it is very obvious what they are doing.

Re:Stupid Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287962)

Google listings qualify as reviews? Have our standards of what constitutes a review become so low? Have we lost our ability to notice that, say, "Google Finance" may in fact be owned by the same Google company who owns the search site we get to by typing "Google" in our browser, and who is providing the results we're looking at? Are we really as incapable of noticing that same naming as we are of discerning that a TV station and lawnmower store with entirely different names are owned by the same company?

Re:Stupid Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34288030)

We're democratizing reviews! Anyone with a little money can now buy a review from an SEO expert or a restaurant review site! Behind-the-scenes marketing isn't limited to the big corps now!

Re:Stupid Article (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287646)

The problem is that, the store does not claim to be unbiased, but google does (for anti-trust reason). Anyway the whole thing is non-story, google does not reorder search results, it just adds a widget on top, that can give you more direct information from other google services.

how dare they (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287836)

how dare they give me something for free and tell me to use more of their products.

Re:Stupid Article (1)

ExileOnHoth (53325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287852)

Search is different. The broker analogy is more accurate -- People's expectation with a search engine is that it's giving them accurate, neutral results. It's like thinking your stock broker is guiding you to buy certain stocks based on what will give you the best retirement -- then you find out actually he's been guiding you to stocks from companies that he does business with. (familiar from recent history.)

Sure it's free speech and they're a corporation and have the right to make a profit. But there is an expectation (cultivated by google) that their results are neutral, and they aren't.

When google makes money by advertising that's business. When they make money by changing their search results in a way that is less accurate but more profitable, that's less than honest.

Oranges and apples (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287280)

"Edelman notes that Google cites its use of unbiased algorithms to dismiss antitrust scrutiny, and he recalls the DOJ's intervention in airlines providing favorable results for its own flights in customer reservation systems they owned."

Er, airlines sell tickets for profit. What exactly does Google make from you when you use their search engine?

Re:Oranges and apples (1)

vacarul (1624873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287332)

money. From ads.

Re:Oranges and apples (1)

6031769 (829845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287772)

Quite the opposite (unless you follow the ad links). By following the "organic" results links, which most people do, you are degrading the value of the ads which they sell.

If they're top in their own listings, big wow. Try typing "microsoft sucks arse" into bing.com and see what's number one.

Re:Oranges and apples (1)

vacarul (1624873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287902)

I tell you what most people do. They have no idea that ads are ads, and blindly click on whatever it's on the real Top position. Sure, the people that work in the industry know that those positions are special. Not so with the general public.

Re:Oranges and apples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287616)

My company spends something along the lines of 29000 a year on Google Adwords. I'm not overly cranky because they don't compete with anything that we sell, but if I were buying adwords against their guaranteed top results, I'd be a little unhappy.

Re:Oranges and apples (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287686)

Er, airlines sell tickets for profit. What exactly does Google make from you when you use their search engine?

I'm sorry, are you high? Live in a cave? Under a rock?

Google sells ad views (and more).

Re:Oranges and apples (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288102)

Google sells ad views.

No, strangely they don't: they sell ad clicks.

views, though wonderful and tracked: are not sold, infact they provide them for free*. only clicks cost you anything. like the last poster mentioned, the worse the results, the less likely you are to click on the ads, thus the business model is to provide the best searches, to find the add you were looking to click on.

if you get a bad search on google, the ads (if even present) will reflect people's desire to market towards the terrible keywords you used. if you do a search for better keywords, and see an ad along the lines of what you wanted: you're significantly more likely to click on it, as it both reflects the existing page contents, and your intended result.

*=as long as you are willing to be paying if people DO click on your ad.

Re:Oranges and apples (1)

hydrofix (1253498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287848)

Google gets 23 billion dollars a year of revenue from advertising, and the profits are growing at a rate of 22% a year. Advertising makes up almost 97% of the company's income. So that's where the money comes from. There are people out there that believe that when you use Google's products, and they can get their message out there, it's a great investment. Google simply monetizes on this conception.

Re:Oranges and apples (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287860)

1. Sell ads to advertisers and give free ad-placement service to websites.
2. Direct you to websites.
3. Profit!

Note the lack of "???" in step 2. These ain't no underpants gnomes here.

Quelle Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287308)

Google "Finance" - Top result is *always* going to be a further Google Inc. website.

May not be what you wanted, however, if it aint top in Google, it don't exist on the interweb, right?

Re:Quelle Surprise (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288166)

Uhh, no. not at all. it:
1) depends on where you live: In Cambodia, the first result is in fact the "Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia", followed by EINNews.com's cambodia finances page. (JUST did a wget of the google result with q=Finance&)

2) only reflects that most people using GOOGLE, trust that GOOGLE FINANCE is a tool worth using. I guarantee that if they black-listed themselves for a month, they would likely loose 2-5% of the traffic tops. Working in the IT/IS industry, I know for a fact that there are three major banks in my country that use Google finance daily, and link to it from their own sites.

and? (1, Redundant)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287326)

Isn't that kind of like getting mad at Sears for trying to sell you a Kenmore (their own brand) appliance before offering you an LG?

There's much more profit in pushing your own products.

Re:and? (0)

vacarul (1624873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287380)

no, its not. It's like when they say that they will do what's best for you and then sell you what's best for them. The problem it's not that they push their own services. The problem is that they push their own services while denying it!

Re:and? (2, Funny)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287652)

Wow... it's bee a long time since I've been moded redundant because, if I remember correctly, the last time I was moded redundant was a long time ago.

Re:and? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288172)

that's what you get for posting something that's been mentioned about 20 times in the comments already. :P

Not Search Results (4, Informative)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287362)

Did anyone read the article?

The search results for 'acne' vs 'acne,' were exactly the same. The difference was where the search started.

With the comma, the search results started immediately. Without the comma, the search results started after a 'Value-Added' section at the top of the page.

This doesn't show a problem with Google's search engine or algorithm, it shows that in addition to the search feature, Google also has a 'Decision Engine' (to steal a phrase)...or whatever that Wolfram Alpha crap said about itself.

This is exactly the same thing as the conversion/arithmetic functions that Google has. Is it Anti-trust for Google to automatically show you the "centimeters to inches" conversion instead of simply linking to another page that has a converter app?

Re:Not Search Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287418)

Exactly. This is just some idiot who doesn't understand Google's interface out to prove "Google is teh ebil!1!!".

Good thing we've got editors who make sure obvious crap like this will never make it to the front page, right?

Right?

Re:Not Search Results (2, Informative)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287622)

Yeah, in think its part of the universal search [google.com] feature.

Re:Not Search Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287776)

"Whatever the crap" Wolfram Alpha calls itself is a "Computational Knowledge Engine". Bing is the one that calls itself a "Decision Engine".

Re:Not Search Results (0)

dumbnose (190140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287812)

That isn't true. I just tried it. Without the quote, the top hit is Google health. With it, it isn't Google Health.

Re:Not Search Results (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287974)

Congrats on also not being able to understand google's page layout.

Hint actual search results don't display as a link heading, followed by a secondary set of links to different web sites, then followed by a summary.

Re:Not Search Results (1)

ExileOnHoth (53325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287932)

Maps and tickers are pretty clearly value-added features, as are the arithmetic operators, etc.

Google health or the patent database, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. Just a little. They are an attempt to compete with existing companies in an advertising / content business where google doesn't yet have a toehold in the market.

There's no way that the patent listing referred to in the article (999999), or the acne article, are more useful to the searcher than real algorithmic results would have been. They're not necessarily even accurate (unlike a stock ticker which is a simple data point).

Obviously google has the right to use its success in search to try and push its way into other areas of business. But it's disingenuous to claim they AREN'T doing this. They are.

Whether it's evil or not is subjective. But let's not pretend google's search results page is some kind of scientifically valid result. A lot of what they show is part of their larger business strategy, and searchers simply need to understand that when they use google's products.

Whaddya mean, "Not Search Results"!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287986)

You run a seach and the first item that shows on the page is "not [a] search result"?

What the fuck is it, then? Some Google Jedi mind trick? "These are not 'results'"?!?!?

Re:Not Search Results (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288078)

This is exactly the same thing as the conversion/arithmetic functions that Google has. Is it Anti-trust for Google to automatically show you the "centimeters to inches" conversion instead of simply linking to another page that has a converter app?

I was about to say something similar. Searching for "csco" versus "csco$", the results are identical, apart from the link to Google Finance at the top of the "csco" results. There is the issue that the Google Finance box appears identical to a regular search result, and gets a graphic icon, however, I would say that this is strongly compensated for by Google's inclusion of multiple links to competing web sites within the "value added Finance box" (links are "Google Finance Yahoo Finance MSN Money DailyFinance CNN Money Reuters"). As a comparison point, search for "csco" on bing.com. You will get a top result linking to msn.com, but with no links at all to other finance sites. On Yahoo, the top result is finance.yahoo.com, but it does show other results, and the results don't change when manipulating the keyword, so maybe there is not so much bias here (it is quite believable that an unbiased search would return finance.yahoo.com as the top result - Google's own search prompts "finance yahoo" as the first suggestion when you enter the single word "finance").

Special results != bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287370)

When you search for a stock google shows you a graph and a list to several tickers.

> Google Finance Yahoo Finance MSN Money DailyFinance CNN Money Reuters

This is not about promoting googles products (it obviously lists competitors as well), it is about providing a more useful result
to the user.

Re:Special results != bias (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288180)

personally, I'd ASSUME that the google finance page for the GOOG stock would be LIVE for gains, and a few minutes delayed for losses.

but maybe that's just me. O.o

What? (4, Insightful)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287384)

The article is inaccurate. Google does not bias search results, the results which appear on top aren't regular search results, they are more like services.

If I search for "the social network" as the article provides as proof of bias, I am happy to see a service presenting me with additional info which is certainly NOT a search result, but rather dynamically generated content. No search result can provide that, only google can because after all its their site.

Besides, how awful would it be to have that special "generated" information not showing up first?? why would it be displayed in the 3rd, 4th, 6th position? It makes no sense! Because it ISN'T a web search result. It would also be an awful user experience.

If I wasn't new here I would ask: "Why is this even news in slashdot land?" :P

Re:What? (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287800)

If I search for "the social network" as the article provides as proof of bias, I am happy to see a service presenting me with additional info which is certainly NOT a search result, but rather dynamically generated content. No search result can provide that, only google can because after all its their site.

Your distinction is arbitrary and meaningless, a fancy search result is still just a search result.

Besides, how awful would it be to have that special "generated" information not showing up first??

Just as awful as having it show up first when what you are really looking for is further down the list. When I searched on "the social network" I got showtimes time sand links to full-blown cinema listings on google's own web pages - what if I just wanted to read some reviews? Or check out the cast list? What makes google's own web pages automatically more relevant than any other web pages?

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287948)

Their goal is to provide the information most people are looking for as readily as possible, not to avoid offending the tiny minority who get their panties in a bunch because the results got pushed down a small bit. The most popular website in the world is not going to gut a popular feature to cater to you and you alone. Get over it.

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288212)

what if I just wanted to read some reviews? Or check out the cast list? What makes google's own web pages automatically more relevant than any other web pages?

1) maybe try the "reviews" keyword at the end. 2) give "cast" a go at the end of that one.

your ambiguous statement confused the computer. it's recommending what everybody else is clicking on when also searching for such ambiguity.

seriously: your statement is like asking "when I say red, why would someone respond 'lights' and not with [insert whatever random thing you thought and never communicated here]"

Re:What? (1)

ildon (413912) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288054)

I think one thing Google could do to address these kinds of complaints is to delineate it more clearly. To computer savvy people, it's pretty obviously a different, discrete "section" of the page than the actual search results, but to people like my grandma (and apparently the author of this article) it appears to simply be the first search result.

Re:What? (1)

ExileOnHoth (53325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288234)

If you worked at a web startup whose business model is to charge theaters to syndicate movie times, you would feel differently.

I am not saying google shouldn't be allowed to do this. They should. But people should understand Google's search results page is an expression of their business strategy. Not a scientific formula.

"email" has hotmail as top result (4, Informative)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287404)

There's a difference between website search result and inline information from other google services.

The first search result for GOOG yahoo finance, but the first thing shown, before the search results, is google's finance data (as if you were searching via google finance).

"World map", "map of the usa", "shopping", no top places for google.

"6*9" gives "54", but no webpage results... OMG HAX

Gmail is top result for me (1)

figleaf (672550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287732)

I am not sure what country you are in. I am in the US.
Gmail is the top result for me. Hotmail is placed 3rd following Yahoo mail.

The one that annoys me... (2, Funny)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287406)

... is the bloody stupid "autocorrect" thing. You know, where you type in something that doesn't have a lot of hits, and it comes back with "Showing results for . Click for results for ". A good example is "mkiss" which is a networking utility - type that in and you get millions of results for "kiss" which is totally the wrong thing.

Google has become increasingly unusable. The stupid javascript preview thing is just about the last straw. I've since switched back to Altavista.

Re:The one that annoys me... (3, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287454)

Comrade, are you suggesting that you know better than Google? Please remain where you are, and someone will be there shortly to assist you to a re-education center.

Re:The one that annoys me... (1)

Flipao (903929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287542)

Right, so you got tired of Google what, yesterday?, and now you just happen to use Altavista who actually died a long time ago, it is now owned by Yahoo, who gets search results from Microsoft.

What a coincidence!

Re:The one that annoys me... (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287602)

I've since switched back to Altavista.

Except that Altavista is long gone. And Yahoo is beyond useless, worse than even Bing with which it's going to merge.

Re:The one that annoys me... (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287850)

Start searching for +mkiss instead of mkiss. Case closed. Next!

One hand not talking to the other (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287412)

So the left hand is not talking to the right and vice-versa. This is nothing new for companies, and especially not for ones the size of Google. Is the preference towards self-promotion appropriate? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Given that most nearly any company you make a purchase from will suggest you try their own related products instead of their competitors it certainly isn't out the realm of consumer expectations.

TFA is F stupid (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287414)

The things this moron is complaining about are not the "search results". Those are Google's helpful subject-based results. Like when I google "2+2", it helpfully returns 4. (OMG! Google is biased toward 4!) Whether adding helpful subject-based information that I didn't explicitly ask for is really helpful might be something to think about, but it has no bearing on any purported bias in the search results themselves.

Yawn. (5, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287426)

On Google, Yahoo, Bing, and even WolframAlpha the "top link" for stock quotes is actually a widget that shows current stock info. Google's widget is the only one of the four that has links to all their competitors' finance sites.

The same is true of health searches, travel searches, you name it... Google's widgets give you choices, the rest shuffle you to their sponsored site.

Mod article troll.

not standard search results (3, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287434)

they only do this with search results that "break out" with more than the standard web snippet, as a user this means that you can usually type your query for any google service (a map location, etc.) into the regular google input rather than first navigating to the relevant subdomain. i find this very helpful if i am doing a series of things, such as looking up information about something local to me finding the website, then using that to pull up a map from google.

they are not messing with search results order, they are putting a breakout at the top of the results when your query hits potentially relevant results on one of their other functions.

I didnt see anything (1)

He who knows (1376995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287436)

when i try added a coma or any other way to change the search i still got the same results. but then right below it is yahoo finance and tesco finance. I dont think there is anything biased here as google users are more likely to use other google services therfore pushing it to the top.

Re:I didnt see anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287526)

Plz try Google English 101. kthxbai.

I just searched for a stock ticker (3, Informative)

Flipao (903929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287486)

First result was MSN money.

Benjamin Edelman is a troll.

Re:I just searched for a stock ticker (5, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287734)

Benjamin Edelman is a troll.

More importantly he is a paid consultant for Microsoft. [benedelman.org]

Hard-coded bias? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287496)

I call shenanigans. I'm quite sure it is algorithmic and properly parametrized.

This is an feature Google promotes! (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287536)

Why is this presented as if it was a discovery of a secret nefarious plot? Google is very open with the fact that for certain search terms, they put a special result (often from another Google service) as the first result, before the normal web search results. (This is true of, aside from terms that are Google Health keywords and stock ticker symbols, anything that matches a pattern that is a valid Google Calculator calculation [e.g., "1 furlong/fortnight"]

Re:This is an feature Google promotes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287610)

Agreed. He just did a ton of research to find out that google is doing some small percentage of all of the things Google says they're doing on their search features pages.

http://www.google.com/help/features.html

sore dick (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287576)

returns yahoo

Those results are from OneBox (ie non algo-search) (1)

szap (201293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287666)

Um, yes, the first results may come from OneBox, which is not from their "Algorithmic" search, but from a separate service that triggers on certain keywords, like "music", "movie"... and "csco". Adding commas just makes it not trigger the OneBox search. It used to be that the OneBox results are more visually different from the rest of the results, but the recent redesigns makes them very much alike.

OneBox is also used to implement features like "10 km in miles". See also http://searchengineland.com/meet-the-google-onebox-plus-box-direct-answers-the-10-pack-26706 [searchengineland.com] I'm not use if they still use the word "OneBox" to describe this feature though, but it is still used in the Google Search Appliances.

Disclaimer. IANAGoogler, reposting this from my reddit reply.

Slashdot editors wake up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287718)

Come on editors, if i wanted biased over hyped news I would turn on fox... I half expect the next Slashdot article to be about TSA offers groping me why forcing me to watch Google ads..

Google is evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287782)

Why do you think they told you they were not? Who even asked?

More of what's going on here. (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287816)

There's a lot going on here.

First, the "comma" thing strongly affects Google Suggest, which drives Google Instant. It also affects Google Web Search, but not as strongly. Google Suggest, which comes up with those alternatives for Instant, isn't driven by Google PageRank; it's driven by Google Trends. Or rather, it used to be; it's not as strongly trend-driven as it was a few months ago. That's really a side issue.

Then there are the special-purpose subengines - stocks, health, celebrities, weather, sports, travel, etc. That was actually a Yahoo innovation. Yahoo introduced that in early 2008, with about fifty subengines, and for six months, their search was more on topic than Google's. Few noticed. (I found out about it at a talk by a Yahoo VP.) Then Google copied that idea, and now every major search engine has it. Some of the subengines won't fire with a trailing comma present. The subengines are what the article author is talking about as "hard-coded bias".

Subengines have been around since 2008. What's changing is that some of them now actually sell something. The "weather" and "stocks" subengines don't try to sell anything. The "travel" subengine is different. Try "flight from london to new york". Google has partners ready to sell you tickets. There's a "products" subengine. "dvd player" gets Google results for brands, stores, and types, directing you to Google partners. For neither travel nor products are these entries identified as advertisements.

This is where Google is pushing the line between search results and paid ads. This previously got them into trouble with the Federal Trade Commission back in 2002. [ftc.gov] Now it's more subtle, but it's back.

services... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287872)

I love the google services that are provided at the top.

Calculator in particular.

Not biasing results (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287920)

Google has only claimed that they don't bias results of one third party in favor of another (provided no one is playing SEO games). They've never claimed to treat their own services impartially in their search results. They shouldn't be expected to.

Re:Not biasing results (1)

khchung (462899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288208)

They've never claimed to treat their own services impartially in their search results. They shouldn't be expected to.

Just like Microsoft should be expected to give unequal treatment to 3rd party apps vs MS apps on windows, eh? So you fully support MS apps using secret APIs to get preferential treatment on Windows?

did a search on "search engine" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34287930)

Did a search on "search engine" (no quotes, just the words). The result had a bunch of competitors, no mention of a google site until the third page.

Wow, I found something even more blatant (4, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34287952)

Check this out... I search for "bing", and what do I get? A big Google link to the left of the search box. It's even above the search results, in special colors and everything. Talk about biasing the results in favor of Google services! Even worse, the tile bar... TITLE BAR of the window says "Google Search", even though I searched for Bing! The nerve of these people. The DOJ should come down HARD on them for this clear monopoly abuse.

I consider this a feature and use it regularly! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34288052)

When I want Google Analytics, I type "analytics" into firefox's google box and click on the first box that pops up, knowing that it will take me to the right place. Same goes for maps, earth, code, and several other things. This is nothing new (and therefore not "news"), in fact, it's been this way as long as I can remember. Why are people even complaining about this?

Just like IE and MSFT (1, Flamebait)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288202)

Edelman cites a 2007 admission from Google's Marissa Mayers that they placed Google Finance at the top of the results page, calling it 'only fair' because they made the search engine

How is this any different than MSFT saying "We made IE as the default browser because we made the OS"?

come on people (2, Insightful)

single_user_mode (414420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34288206)

nothing in life is free...

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