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Google's Next Challenge, Spam Results

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the eggs-bacon-sausage-and dept.

Google 238

krou writes "The Guardian's tech blog is running an interesting piece on Google's next big challenge, which is dealing with the spammers it helped create. 'Google is the 900-pound gorilla of search, with around 90% of the market (excluding China and Russia), and there's an entire industry which has grown up specifically around tickling the gorilla to make it happy and enrich the ticklers.' They quote Paul Kedrosky who notes that 'Google has become a snake that too readily consumes its own keyword tail. Identify some words that show up in profitable searches — from appliances, to mesothelioma suits, to kayak lessons — churn out content cheaply and regularly, and you're done. On the web, no-one knows you're a content-grinder.' Whether searching for reviews, products, businesses, or even conducting academic research, scraper sites are ranking higher than original content. The article speculates that Google may try fix the problem but, from Google's perspective, most of these type of sites use AdSense ads, and generate revenue for Google (89% of clicks come from the first page of results), so Google may not have an incentive to change things too much. Alternatively, people could stop using Google, 'because its search is damn well broken... The question is whether it would be visible enough — that is, whether enough people would do it — that it would show up on Google's radar and be made a priority.'"

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Fix the spam filter on blogger... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754200)

They could also fix the spam filter they've added to Blogger that you can't disable. It's hilarious to see legitimate posts get flagged and hidden while Chinese clothing spammers and porn spam gets through.

mesothelioma (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754526)

This puzzled me: "profitable searches — from appliances, to mesothelioma suits, to kayak lessons"

I'm thinking, "Mesothelioma suits? What's that, a protective suit you wear when you're working around asbestos?"

Before Google came up I realized he was talking about lawsuits. Gees, lawyers and businessmen talking sure confuse this old nerd sometimes. To a businessman, "suit" is what lawyers bring, to a nerd, it's usually protective gear.

If you go talking about RAM here, I'm going to think "memory". If you're talking about trucks, you need to say "Dodge RAM". If you're talking about Mesothelioma suits, you need to say "Mesothelioma lawsuits unless you're talking about protection from asbestos.

Re:mesothelioma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754642)

I was thinking about suits made from cancer.

Re:mesothelioma (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754726)

then there is the rest of us, who didn't get confused at all...

Re:mesothelioma (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754794)

Actually, I had the same problem. Suits are outfits. Lawsuits are lawsuits, unless you've already dropped another keyword like "court" or "lawyer."

Then I'm the kind of punster who, in the computer game I run, makes it so that a "law suit" is also a kind of clothing, but you take psychic damage from wearing it.

Re:mesothelioma (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754930)

i remember an article, awhile back, that said the most expensive word in google's adword program (where advertisers pay a biddable amount each time someone clicks on their ad when someone searches for that word) was not some sex-related term, not some date site term, but... drum roll please... mesothelioma

if you searched for that word, and clicked on an ad next to the search results, you were costing that advertiser something like $10 just for that click

jeepers

Re:mesothelioma (2)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755142)

The problem with that term is that you have to possess some degree of intelligence to actually be able to spell it, therefore eliminating almost the entire target market for spam pages.

Then again...*checks common misspellings*...okay. I get it now.

Broken? (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754218)

Compared to what exactly? I find Bing's results to be far more broken so that rules out Bing and Yahoo. What's left?

Re:Broken? (2)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754234)

Yeah, Google's results are not what they used to be (especially when searching for reviews and benchmarks), but I keep hearing people say they are useless and I have yet to see anything I prefer. I keep wondering if they are using the same Google that I am.

Re:Broken? (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754446)

I got pretty good results when looking for car reviews the last couple weeks, put it $model review and the first two pages were 99% relevant. Put $model problem in and you get back mostly forum results talking about problems with that model car. I guess certain very high value keywords might be attacked because there's enough profit to be made worming your way around the algorithms to make it worthwhile but in general I'd say they do exactly what they were designed to do, give you the most relevant and authoritative information first.

Re:Broken? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754954)

Try searching for penis enlargments. Seriously. You have a small dick.

Re:Broken? (2)

whitehaint (1883260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754884)

Most people don't know how to use Google though. When I hear a complaint about poor results I will try to look over their shoulder to see what they do, way too often they don't use + or - and they don't read the url to see if it looks good or if it's possible crap.

Re:Broken? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755166)

Does + still work? I use - and quotes, but + seems to be ignored.

Re:Broken? (1)

lytles (24756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755318)

been using google since beta, have 7 google accounts (that i'm working to reduce down to 2), have my own google apps domain, google voice is my primary number, chrome is my browser, perform dozens of searches a day

and had a workaround for an annoying problem ... google's use of synonyms makes it hard to search for something specific, appending "&nfpr=1" to a query disables it. even have a keyword search set up to automatically append it

and after all this time i learn that the "+" operator does exactly what i want without the kludge - thanks whitehaint - and i guess you can add me to the list of people that don't *really* know how to use google

Re:Broken? (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754372)

I guess it's time to go back to Archie.

Somebody else will come along, eventually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754398)

People used to say the same thing about AltaVista. It was the best search engine of its time, and people thought it was untouchable. Then BAM, Google comes in and fucks them up royally.

Some other search engine will eventually come along. They will provide a better service, and people will migrate away from Google.

Re:Somebody else will come along, eventually. (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754486)

Some other search engine will eventually come along. They will provide a better service, and Google will swallow them up like a ripe, juicy tomato.

FTFY

Re:Somebody else will come along, eventually. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754628)

If someone does, who will find out about it first: users or Google? If Google finds out first, they just have to stop the revenue-generating pollution to a degree that they remain best, and no one will ever know that the newcomer had briefly been better.

For all its "brokenness" Google just has to remain best and they'll win. And if that brokenness is a result of allowing noise because it makes them money, rather than a technology limitation, then it's something they have control of. I wouldn't bet on Google losing any time soon.

Re:Broken? (4, Informative)

beerbear (1289124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754546)

Duck Duck Go

Re:Broken? (1)

ajrs (186276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754792)

Duck Duck Go

? Duck Duck Go is a game featuring rubber duckies, not a search engine.

Re:Broken? (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754984)

I find Blekko.com to be decent.

Quoted from a techcrunch article [techcrunch.com]

In addition to providing regular search capabilities like Google’s, Blekko allows you to define what it calls “slashtags” and filter the information you retrieve according to your own criteria. Slashtags are mostly human-curated sets of websites built around a specific topic, such as health, finance, sports, tech, and colleges. So if you are looking for information about swine flu, you can add “/health” to your query and search only the top 70 or so relevant health sites rather than tens of thousands spam sites. Blekko crowdsources the editorial judgment for what should and should not be in a slashtag, as Wikipedia does. One Blekko user created a slashtag for 2100 college websites. So anyone can do a targeted search for all the schools offering courses in molecular biology, for example. Most searches are like this—they can be restricted to a few thousand relevant sites. The results become much more relevant and trustworthy when you can filter out all the garbage.

Re:Broken? (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755350)

Indeed. I do try the other search engines every now and then, but even when searching for something rather obscure Google returns more relevant results than the others. The problem is of course that Google's database has literally bajillions of webpages indexed and thus it's hard to come up with exactly correct results if you only use one or two keywords. But then again, the fault mostly lies with the users: they need to learn to make more coherent searches. Even adding two more keywords helps to narrow the search down, and using the minus-sign in front of one for excluding websites with that keyword helps a LOT.

Making good searches simply is something one must learn, no search engine can read your mind and find exactly what you mean.

Uh (3, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754228)

Why is slashdot providing us with opinions? News = facts and context. Gossip = Some facts, some context, lots of opinions. "because its search is damn well broken..." -- do not want to hear.

Re:Uh (1)

fremsley471 (792813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754330)

Realise this doesn't help your fair argument, but for the first time I'm finding the signal/noise ratio starting to appreciably lower on Google search. Only this morning I was looking for an extension on firefox that reports spam in the search results (Chrome has one but am on linux) . Maybe the opinions are only anecdotal evidence, but it chimes with my experience of the last month or so.

Re:Uh (1)

Ben4jammin (1233084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754384)

Because sometimes you don't know all the facts upfront, so you start a discussion and try to piece things together. If you make a rule that you can only discuss KNOWN and PROVEN facts you will probably have worse problems than "some context, lots of opinions"

Re:Uh (2)

shish (588640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755022)

Why is slashdot providing us with opinions?

Because it's a for-profit gossip rag, and more gossip = more ad views. Thankfully you can normally wait 5 minutes then look at the comments and see 10 posts along the lines of "here's why the article is bull and the slashdot editor is a tard" and get some links to actually informative sites.

What really confuses me is why the editors seem to reject submissions with links to source data, and approve submissions that come in hours or days later linking to some third party's useless opinion blog o_O

Playing the game changes the game (1)

MessyBlob (1191033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754230)

It's all very well designing the perfect search engine (and the rest of the baggage that sits in the right margin), but interested parties will always try to break it to their own ends.

Re:Playing the game changes the game (0)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754300)

They are not in the business of designing the perfect search engine. They are in the business of designing the perfect advertising engine. It's a mistake to think of Google as anything other than an ad company.

Re:Playing the game changes the game (5, Insightful)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754388)

Believe it or not it's easier to be a good ad company if you're also a good search company. One doesn't have to suffer to the benefit of the other. It's easier to sell a product if it's a good product.

Re:Playing the game changes the game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754424)

They are not in the business of designing the perfect search engine. They are in the business of designing the perfect advertising engine. It's a mistake to think of Google as anything other than an ad company.

How is that relevant to the grandparent's point? Having the best search is the way they get and keep users. Without users, they don't have the opportunity to charge for ads.

I know it is fun to be pedantic while flogging your favorite dead house, but try to inject some insight into your posts that is in some way relevant to the discussion.

Re:Playing the game changes the game (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754748)

Because they don't need a perfect search engine and it isn't their aim. They only need one that's good enough for advertisers. Often that corresponds to "good for users" but not necessarily. Take all the information about users they collect and sell to advertisers. That doesn't fit what I'd see as "good for users", but it's certainly "good for advertisers".

If you want to understand Google and what they do, you have to remember that they are an advertising company and us poor chumps trying to find stuff on the internet are not their customers.

Re:Playing the game changes the game (1, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754516)

Yes, it's like people believe we're playing a game of chess: you move your pieces to get into a new, better position, and eventually you checkmate your opponent and you win. They believe one day spam will go away, or that we can do something to eliminate it and that something is "broken" because there is still spam.

It's more of a game of Go. Occasionally your opponent makes inroads into your territory, and you block them off. Occasionally you make inroads into their territory. Sometimes they make life; other times you kill their invasion. The score and territorial control fluctuate up and down, but neither side is completely alive or completely dead until the game is over; and the Internet isn't anywhere near over.

As it stands, there is a lot of spam; but we've managed to wall a lot of it off and so most e-mail we see falls into spam buckets. The spammers have made small life in the corner and extended down the sides along the first line: they gain nothing and bother us significantly, but overall very little. They've made larger life along the opposite side, replying to Craigslist posts and spamming "adult" personals sites. You'd think trying to get sex off craigslist would get you hookers and spam for porn sites; but try selling a car or a guitar or looking for a Go club, you don't exactly get 3000 replies for adultsexhookups.com but you get 3 or 4 ... annoying.

It's bad now (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754238)

This is what happens when you don't have competition... Bing and yahoo just don't return decent results compared to google even with these issues.

Re:It's bad now (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754644)

This is what happens when you don't have competition... Bing and yahoo just don't return decent results compared to google even with these issues.

Google does have competition. You named two of them. Baidu and Yandex are the more serious ones.

The fact that search spam is not a solved problem is not due to lack of competition. All search engines are competing for the best (least spammy) results. It is a really hard problem. If you disagree, feel free to get very rich by solving it yourself. You don't even need to build a large company to compete directly. A startup with a spam filter that improves search by 5% would easily get bids to be acquired for a lot of money by more than one of the companies you named.

Twa da Night afo' Crizzmus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754240)

Wus da night afo' Crizzmus, and all thru da hood,
everybody be sleepin' and da sleepin' be good.
We hunged up our stockins, an hoped like all heck,
dat Obama gunna brang us our welfare checks.

All of da family, was layin' on da flo',
my sister wif her gurlfriend, my brother wif some ho.
Ashtrays was all full, empty beer cans and all
when I heared such a fuss, I thunk...."Sh'eet, must be da law".

I pulled the sheet off da window and what I'ze could see,
I was spectin' the sherrif, wif a warrent fo' me.
But what did I see, made me say, "Lawd look 'a dat!"
Dere was a huge watermelon, pulled by eight big-ass rats.

Now ovah da years, Santy Claws he be white,
but it looks like us brotha's, got a black un' tonight.
Faster than a poe'lice car, my homeboy he came,
and whupped up on dem rats, as he called dem by name.

On Biden, On Jessie, On Pelosi and Hillary Who,
On Fannie, On Freddie, On Ayers, and Slick Willy too.
Obama landed dat melon, right there in da street,
I knowed it fo' sho', - can you believe that Sheet?

Dat Santy didn't need no chimley, he picked da lock on my do',
an I sez to myself, "Son o' bitch..he don did dis befo!"
He had a big bag, full of presents - at first I suspeck?
Wif "Air Jordans" and fake gold, to wear roun' my neck.

But he left me no presents, just started stealin my shit.
He got my guns and my crack, and my new burglers kit.
Den, wif my shit in his bag, out da windo' he flew,
I sho' woulda shanked him, but he snagged my blade too!

He jumped back on dat melon, wif out even a hitch,
and waz gone in two seconds, da democrat sonofabitch.
So nex year I be hopin', a white Santy we git,
'cause a black Santy Claws, just ain't worf a shit!

Guidelines aren't enforced (0)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754248)

It would be great if google would only follow their own guidelines. [google.com]

But for now, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam!!!!

Companies that serve the almighty dollar (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754264)

are left in shock and awe as soon as consumers find a better option and flock away in huge numbers. There will be no customer loyalty for Google if we continue to get served up crap. A bunch of clicks now may see revenue for Google now, but they'll feel the bottom line fall out from under them like a hangman's trap when 60%-80% switch to another search engine that focuses more on the science of search than the profitability of it (like Google used to be).

Re:Companies that serve the almighty dollar (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754450)

Are you implying that if google dies then everyone interested in SEO(search engine optimization) will just go away, instead of smelling a new and fresh profit opportunity and continue doing business as usual with a new search engine?
Anyone with a brain can recognize affiliate links or overhyped profiteering or just plain lies that generally accompany the spam/fake reviews/miracle product sites. Those who can't are going to lose their money to email spam, or offline advertisements, or late night informercials anyway.

Mixed metaphor alert (4, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754278)

So which is it? Is Google a gorilla or a snake? Make your mind up!

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754302)

On SyFy, it's GORILLASNAKE!

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754348)

Coming soon to a theater near you, Samuel L. Jackson stars in....GORILLASNAKES on a plane!

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (4, Funny)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754744)

I am tired of all the motherf*cking spam results on this motherf*cking search engine!

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754534)

Zabimaru!

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754322)

You want them to fix the summary? I'm afraid that train has sailed.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (3, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754616)

train has sailed??

wow. you can lead a whore to water but you can't make her think.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754664)

You're thinking of horticulture.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754626)

I agree, at this point it would just be throwing out the baby to spite your face.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754344)

If we hit that bullseye the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754572)

A mixed metaphor is if you mix your metaphors within the same sentence or metaphor construction.

Completely different sentences with obviously separate metaphors -- especially when they're quotes from different people -- is just called writing.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754620)

It is at least distracting, as is the last sentences use of "It" for two seperate things:
     

The question is whether it would be visible enough — that is, whether enough people would do it — that it would show up on Google's radar and be made a priority.

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754868)

Snakorilla. It is a huge gorilla that has a king cobra head and a rattle on it's tail

Re:Mixed metaphor alert (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755288)

Snakorilla

Dear Jeebus, please don't let any SyFy execs read this post.

Re: Is Google a gorilla or a snake? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755014)

Manimal.

They are still far better than what came before (2)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754294)

The thing is thought that the other search engines before Google were terrible in this regard.

Before Google the SEO business was rife with dodgy practices. It was only when google showed that these dodgy practices were not going to help get to the top of their results that the SEO market grew up and started being more constructive for the web as a whole.

Before this they would just do whatever they could to game their clients page higher up the ranks using whatever means they could just to get their clients page hits. This was a nice easy metric that clients could easily track and understand with minimum of technical knowledge. Their customer to visitor ratios might have been going down as the page hits went up but this was very hard to track before the whole web metric industry grew up. One might even say that the web metric industry owes much to Google in this regard as now any money spent on SEO and advertising usually needs to be justified by also spending money on tracking too.

Re:They are still far better than what came before (2)

krou (1027572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754376)

The article raises this point in the second paragraph: 'In fact, the problem that plagued the first generation of search engines such as Altavista now seems to be gaining traction on Google, which outdistanced those earlier rivals precisely because it dumped the spam so effectively.'

Waddaya mean, next challenge? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754296)

The whole reason Google rose to dominance was that 10 years ago it was doing a far better job of hiding the spam results than its now-mostly-defunct major competitors. Since then, spammers, scammers, and pranksters have been trying to game the results, often with noticeable effects.

People change.... only for something better (2, Interesting)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754324)

People wont change while theres nothing better to change to...

I still don't "see" these issues with google that supposidly exist, I know others dont see these issues iether who aren't as web savvy as me, but if they DO exist, it's only when something better comes along that people will switch, I tried bing..... and couldn't even get it to find microsoft security essentials when searching for mse as its normally know.

Re:People change.... only for something better (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754406)

I tried bing..... and couldn't even get it to find microsoft security essentials when searching for mse as its normally know.

Just tried it. Microsoft security essentials was the second result (after Micro Solutions Enterprises, whoever they might be, but they have the domain mse.com).

Re:People change.... only for something better (5, Informative)

eddy (18759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754484)

People wont change while theres nothing better to change to...

I see some nerds switching to http://duckduckgo.com/ [duckduckgo.com]

Re:People change.... only for something better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754548)

Try using wikipedia for your search instead of a search engine.. It works for 90% of non-shopping/review related searches, you get a starting point for further reading if nothing else, and you don't get 1,834,672 results.

Ad Grinders (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754340)

Another problem people have with Google is Ad Grinders. They people spam web sites with false clicks throughs which generates revenue for the site owner. In exchange, Google gets a high number of impressions plus click through revenue. Its a win for scammers and its a winner for Google (on two fronts).

I've repeatedly caught Google failing to catch EXTREMELY obvious click through fraud. And when reported, they only corrected a tiny percentage of it. Which makes it very, very clear, Google has no desire or incentive to catch or prevent fraud as it currently makes then at least double digit percentages (likely as high as 20%) of their yearly ad income.

To largely avoid Ad Grinders, never, ever, never allow Google to automatically place your Ads. Their algorithms specifically focus on sites where abuse occurs specifically because your ads are getting both a high number of impressions and click through rates. The more precise you are with ad placement, the less likely Google will be able to defraud you.

Rest assured, if you are allowing Google to automatically place your ads, you are being scammed.

What scrapers? (4, Interesting)

savanik (1090193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754350)

I don't have this problem - when I search for things on Google, I get relevant results from real pages. Either I regularly search for things that nobody scrapes, or there's actually some skill involved in getting relevant results that most people can't be bothered with.

The biggest problem I've had of late searching on Google is trying to find reviews of hardware and getting ninety billion pages trying to sell it to me with 'Be the first person to review this product!" I need to find a different keyword on that.

Re:What scrapers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754462)

What you describe is more or less the problem at hand.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

JiveDonut (135491) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754464)

It seems to me that with an ideal search engine it wouldn't require a special skill to get relevant spam-free results.

Re:What scrapers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754568)

An ideal Internet wouldn't even have spam at all. With the wealth of content on the web, it really is difficult to index all of it and know what sites are spammy, let alone which ones are more relevant than others for whatever search terms are being used.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

savanik (1090193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755116)

The difference being is that I'm not getting spammy scraper sites, but actual retail outlets with ratings from Google. If they were scraper sites, I'd be much more upset about the whole deal, but as it stands, it's just my poor choices of keywords, not Google rating fake sites above real ones. Lack of user knowledge is a bigger problem than lack of proper search formulas.

Re:What scrapers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754470)

Search for 'css collapsible tabs' and half of the links in the first result page are leading to the very same commercial web-site selling a menu maker.

Re:What scrapers? (2)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754496)

I find exactly the opposite problem. I want to buy something and all I get is pages of reviews for the damn thing. Finding an actual shop is proving almost impossible, and it's not as if I'm looking for unusual items either.

Yeah, I have noticed all the extra cruft creeping into Google lately. It's definitely not as good as it was a few years back.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754600)

Not sure if it is as much google as the inevitable result of a monopoly. In a world with only 1 noteable AV vendor viruses would get by at a much higher rate. It does speak horribly for bing that it's results are almost as bad with no target on it's forehead. As far as shopping, as far as when you want to buy something and can't find the sites selling it, that's what froogle is for.

Re:What scrapers? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754532)

I've found the easiest way to get around this problem is to remove words from google search. I usually use the following form:

search: "product name" review -buy -first

It's not perfect but it's much better than the results w/o the eliminated words.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754638)

While it's not the worst form, mailing list scraping is pretty annoying: half of the first page for some specific API keyword in (python,$LANGUAGE) is often duplicates of the exact same mailing list postings on multiple sites. gmane and nabel are legit, and there are a handful of others which are useful to have around -- but I don't want to see the same threads on each of them. Google needs to go a step further and filter mailing list responses by topic as well as site - you can currently expand listings from one site, but they need to add similar functionality to give only one result per thread with a little "plus" below to allow you to see the thread from multiple sites (maybe randomize the top one if you have to).

Re:What scrapers? (2)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754654)

-"0 reviews" -"first to review"

Re:What scrapers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754676)

I need to find a different keyword on that.

Search is one of the few area where users seem to blame themselves for the service's shortcomings.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754730)

The biggest problem I've had of late searching on Google is trying to find reviews of hardware and getting ninety billion pages trying to sell it to me with 'Be the first person to review this product!" I need to find a different keyword on that.

$10 says that these sites are mostly scrapers trying to get page hits. For instance, I noticed the article that DRAM prices are at their lowest yet. I currently have 8GB in my machine and wanted to figure out what the max was (my manual is at home). So I went and looked up my motherboard model number from the website that sold it to me. I then proceeded to google: "XFX MBN790IUL9 LGA 775" and probably 80% of the sites that came up were scraped. The manufacturer's website wasn't even in the first two pages (though they probably took the main page down for this old and obsolete board).

Normal people is doomed. (2)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754746)

I see 3 problems with normal people using google:

  - Normal people can't tell the diference a scam and a honest page. The preferences are reverted, what you know is the honest page of a hacker (peple like Stallman, or the homepage of a project like MediaWiki) will look scary and dangerous, while will love a page full of flash ads, that probably are tryiing to install spyware.

  - Normal people are the target of spammers. If you search for tecnical problems with ocropus, you will see less spam targeted at you. While if you search something popular like soccer of music... you will see a lot of shit.

  - Normal people and spammers have similar mindset. Want everything withouth paying. Don't have any tecnical moral or respect for internet. Is not his home, so see not problem is shitting here, making internet worse. This bias spammers and normal people to the same areas of the internet.

Re:Normal people is doomed. (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755186)

If you search for tecnical problems with ocropus, you will see less spam targeted at you.

I wish. Try searching for old LCD, stepper, or TTL chip numbers, you'll get tons of "datasheetsRus.com" type sites that consist solely of part numbers and what look like Markov word chains.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

derby604 (861521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755130)

I don't have this problem either with Google search results. When I look for hardware I try Google Shopping, Amazon and Newegg in random order.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

jklappenbach (824031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755156)

Simple, use the following as your search expression: "[ITEM] -'Be the first person to review'" Adjust the filter as needed, or add additional terms.

Re:What scrapers? (1)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755388)

Maybe the solution is to let the owner of the page define what kind of page it is with restricting keywords, for example, they can label their own site as a "shopping" site, or "product review" site, but NOT BOTH. Yes, yes, I know there are many shopping sites that DO have both, (such as Amazon) but perhaps we need to get them to commit. If you can simply pick up a bunch of semi-random keywords and plaster them into your meta tags regardless of your actual content, it sort of kills the whole point for the rest of the tagged web. But Google could figure out what tags are conflicting and require owners to actually own their content.

Fake product reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754354)

This really bothers me because it's so easy to get tricked when the first ten pages of Google search results contain fake reviews from many different domain names. Maybe this is where the new "search engine optimization" industry is heading absent proper controls?

Re:Fake product reviews (1)

ian_from_brisbane (596121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754598)

All too often after searching Google with a few keywords, I'll click on one of the first results, and then use the 'Find in page' function in my browser to look up those same keywords... 0 matches found in page! This is an unbelievably frequent occurrence.

Re:Fake product reviews (2)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754902)

There are two reasons for this, only one of which you can do anything about. The first is synonym matching. That's where you search for something like, I don't know, "website" and it will match "web page" as well. (I'm sure there are better examples). This is the one you can do something about, by putting +website, which forces it to appear as-is. You can also get this by putting a single word in quotes.

The second reason is that google matches not only text on the page, but also frequent text in anchors that link to it. That is to say, even if Slashdot didn't actually have the word "Slashdot" anywhere on it, it would still show up as the first match because of all of the people linking to it with the word Slashdot in their anchor text somewhere. This is the one that you can't do anything about. I do wish you could put something beside a keyword to tell Google to only show websites that contain that keyword, without any fancy stuff. (Though for all I know, maybe the + operator does that too...)

The third is that Google can't crawl every website every second. (Three, there are three reasons.) Dynamic pages will always be slightly out of date, so if a Slashdot article slips off the front page between being crawled and when you search, you'll be frustrated. That's mostly avoided because if you match, say, a Slashdot article, your top link will almost always be a link to the actual article+comments, rather than to the front page. Even still, if you find a match to a comment in a Slashdot article, when you click the link that comment might be collapsed, and thus will not show up in a text search unless the keyword was in the first handful of words. There are plenty of non-Slashdot examples as well, I'm sure.

Fourth, a fanatical devotion to the pope...four...I'll just come in again shall I?

Predicted future news: (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754368)

Google changes the rules to close old loopholes, spammers start gaming the new rules. The media is shocked that a massively profitable business category is capable of changing to meet the new challenges, unlike the *AA groups.

Google may fail, but it has a lot of momentum (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754394)

I've noticed Google getting less and less effective all the time. I do a search, and 3/4 of the sites are 'fake' results that send me to ad pages with their own (totally useless) search results.

On important searches, I often spend 10-15 minutes tuning my query to help eliminate those sites so I can get to the real results.

Hey, Google - here's a free idea for you... do domain lookups on all your listings, and adjust PageRank based on who registers the domains. That should work for a few months before they start taking care to register each new domain with unique contact information.

Re:Google may fail, but it has a lot of momentum (1)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754932)

I've noticed Google getting less and less effective all the time. I do a search, and 3/4 of the sites are 'fake' results that send me to ad pages with their own (totally useless) search results.

On important searches, I often spend 10-15 minutes tuning my query to help eliminate those sites so I can get to the real results.

For me it's the same, but for a different reason: it's Google breaking their own searches. Specifically, how they silently replace your actual keywords with what they think you mean.
Remember Altavista? How you had to do +foo -bar +baz +frotz to get any decent results? That's Google today for me. Keywords have gone from "require all" to "require some... maybe", so if I search for foo bar baz I'll get tons of results with just one or two of the keywords (and sometimes none!). So I have to prefix them all: +foo +bar +baz. Or I search for just foo, which Google might then decide means that I actually want to search for not just foo but also foob and fooc. But I wasn't interested in any of those! I was interested in what I searched for. So I have to search for +foo instead. And that might not be all: depending on Google's mood, I might still have to override even more false positives with +foo -foob -fooc (which means that I will start introducing false negatives as well). And sometimes.. even that isn't enough - occasionally, even that will be overridden by a "this is what we think you mean, and we know better than you" search, where it searches for some completely unrelated keyword.

Hey Google: the "Did you mean..." prompt was great. Silently replacing all my search terms and making me jump through hoops to use your search is not. It's fucking awful interaction design.
Oh, and while we're at it, you apparently have time to spend on on introducing completely unnecessary, CPU-draining shit like that awful DHTML fade (the reason I no longer whitelist google.com in Noscript) but not any to spend on fixing your completely broken non-English searches (they work for some altogether different alphabets, but a whole bunch of extended Latin alphabet searches are completely impossible)...

Content or scrapers (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754452)

Is he complaining about actual content being churned out, or scrapers, which just plagiarise real sites? Please google, get rid of the scrapers, you'll clean up the internet in one fell swoop.

Hardly limited to search-engine spamming... (2)

seebs (15766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754460)

Google is now responsible for a fairly large portion of the plain old spam I get. As in, their computers send it. Their latest gimmick is a new "feature" of Google Groups:

1. You can't send emailed abuse reports, they don't process those.
2. You have to go to the group's home page and click "Report This Group".
3. But you can't unless you're logged into a Google account, and your Google account is a member of the group. Otherwise, you just get the "you must be a member of this group to see this page" page.
4. You can directly navigate to groups.google.com/abuse/, but...
5. They don't do anything about spam reports anyway.

Similarly, they are apparently rapidly becoming a world leader in Usenet spam, because they don't have any particular objection to people posting spam. Or, if they do, it has not yet risen to the level of the kind of objection that results in doing something to stop it.

Google created... what? (2)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754488)

"Google's next big challenge, which is dealing with the spammers it helped create."

Except, "No." Creating a profitable system does not mean one helped to create policy-infringers, law-breakers, and exploiters. If we accepted that irrationality, we could say that young, pretty boys and girls create child rapists, cars with windows spontaneously generate car thieves, and political systems create thieving dirty politicians. But that's not true.

Exploiters and criminals are created through a combination of their own high expectations, the lack of opportunity (by their standards), and their lack of ethical conviction. They only act opportunistically or impulsively on exploitable situations.

Duck Duck Go to the rescue (1)

Graftweed (742763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754520)

For the last couple of months I've been using Duck Duck Go [duckduckgo.com] with great results, and with much less spam than Google. Plus you get warm fuzzies from using it. Written in Perl on top of FreeBSD, respects your privacy [duckduckgo.com] and supports all manner of yummy syntax [duckduckgo.com] .

Couple that with zero click info such as:

define sfumato [duckduckgo.com] 12 usd in eur [duckduckgo.com] 12 cm in inches [duckduckgo.com]

I find myself not missing Google in the slightest when it comes to search.

excluding russia and china? (1)

ardiri (245358) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754522)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

russia and china make up 21.5% of the worlds population - i am sure the 90% result will skew a lot more with these included.

Why Bother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34754646)

So why bother creating any content if some asshole is just going to come rip you off?

Google has fixed some of the problems already... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754712)

While using Google during the holidays, I was having the first three pages of result filled with those damn click-through sites. This morning I tried the same search keys and they are no longer in the results. I think the spammers were taking advantage of everyone taking holiday leave at Google.

Scraper sites outranking originals (1)

zakkie (170306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754814)

I certainly hope so. The most galling thing for me, a prolific original content provider (if I say so myself!), is seeing these scraper sites out-ranking me with domains years younger than my own and no visible effort at SEO, black hat or otherwise. It would be nice if AdSense actually enforced their policy of not being allowed on content used without permission.

Re:Scraper sites outranking originals (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754942)

The most galling thing for me, a prolific original content provider (if I say so myself!), is seeing these scraper sites out-ranking me

A good robots.txt should take care of the ones that obey it, and it’s easy enough to detect robots that don’t obey it and IP-ban them.

E.g.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /robottrap

<style type="text/css"> .hidden-link { display:none; } </style>
<span class="hidden-link"><a href="/robottrap/caught.php">Don't click this</a></span>

Google needs to branch out (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754828)

If Google were serious about competing in enterprise search against vendors like Autonomy, they wouldn't have to worry about losing significant business here. Google's problems here are a direct result of the fact that they haven't spun off a unit that is really funded and operated like an organization that wants to get down and dirty with those customers.

Considering the amount of cash I've seen thrown at Autonomy (it would make Larry Ellison wet himself in excitement), I just don't understand it. Sure, it's not sexy and it's often bureaucratic as hell, but Google could easily afford to spin off their appliance unit into a software/service arm that operates independently of the main "cool" business.

Re:Google needs to branch out (1)

savanik (1090193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755218)

Like who? *Googles*

... ok, that's pretty neat, and a nifty idea who's time has likely come, but it's not a 'search engine for the world' like Google intends on being. It's something to follow, but not something that would supplant Google. Not anytime soon, at least.

Google already does some of this with their Maps, fetching local relevant results and so on. They're just talking about mapping to concepts rather than (always) physical locations.

"its search is damn well broken"? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34754876)

I hadn’t noticed.

Re:"its search is damn well broken"? (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755320)

You may not have noticed but many others have and that includes me. I still use Google and will likely continue to do so but their search is getting increasingly unreliable.

You can feel the dishonesty (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34755140)

Google search results used to be reliable. You could refine your searches, based on previous search results, and progressively narrow your search until you get what you seek. Now you keep getting paid ad "search results."

I'm sick of this shit. Any ideas for an alternative search engine?

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