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Google Fires Back About Search Engine Spam

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-not-me-it's-you dept.

Google 270

coondoggie writes "The folks at Google are taking issue over spam and the quality of Google searches, which some claim has gone down in recent months. Today on Google's official blog, Principal Engineer Matt Cutts said, 'January brought a spate of stories about Google’s search quality. Reading through some of these recent articles, you might ask whether our search quality has gotten worse. The short answer is that according to the evaluation metrics that we’ve refined over more than a decade, Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness. Today, English-language spam in Google’s results is less than half what it was five years ago, and spam in most other languages is even lower than in English.' Cutts also explained that the company has made a few significant changes to their method of indexing."

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Pshaw (3, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958342)

My anecdotal evidence trumps your empirical evidence any day!

Re:Pshaw (2)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958450)

More like, bullshit agregators that link you to a search for your google search on their site could be considered "fresh", "comprehensive", and maybe even "relevant", or could be considered SPAM.

Re:Pshaw (5, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958512)

It would, if Google include an option to filter out entire domains from search results. Google could then simply monitor these domains and try and figure out why people take the trouble of filtering them out.

Re:Pshaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958642)

I just use hotbot. I found them through gopher on my bad-ass lynx account.

Re:Pshaw (3, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958686)

if you add -site:example.com it removes all hits from that site. I have noticed recently that I no longer have to exclude sites that I used to, such as those that just copy excerpts from other message boards.

Perhaps they are watching.

Re:Pshaw (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958910)

Would be nice if you could set something in http://www.google.ca/preferences?hl=en [google.ca] once, and then you would never see these sites though. If someone knows a setting that I'm missing that will let you do this, please let me know here.

Re:Pshaw (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958918)

Not enough, damned expert's exchange! I had to download a grease monkey script and everything, seriously screw those guys. And have you tried searching for a name of an executable? "HURRR CLICK HERE TO FIX XYZ.EXE RELATED ERRORS"
NO! I just want relevant information on the damn executable not traps for computer illiterate people and the shovel ware the sites are peddling.

Re:Pshaw (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959176)

Not enough, damned expert's exchange! I had to download a grease monkey script and everything, seriously screw those guys.

If you set your user-agent to the Google Bot, you can see the actual page from expertsexchange.com.

When a site feeds a different page to the bot than to a user, it should be black listed entirely from results.

Re:Pshaw (3, Funny)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959260)

Perhaps they are watching.

Oh please, you make it sound as if google had vans full of surveillance equipment roaming the streets, spying on everyone! Just more of the usual tin foil haberdashery from the conspiracy theory crowd.

Re:Pshaw (2)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958792)

They used to but they took it out in favor of only allowing people to star items. Why they did this is beyond me. Maybe it gave too much of a chance to game the system. But honestly, it was the only thing that made my searches relevant again. It was the only truly useful feature they've added since, well ever.

When I search for a few coding terms I dont want 10 different sites that have scraped their contant from stackoverflow, I dont want 10 representations of the same unanswered email, or 10 experts-exchange copy-cats. I dont want sites that just show you your own google search terms and some related terms. I want the not-so-well known blogs that people dont always link to.

If we could ban that stuff we'd be so much better off. Google could crowdsource spam control and search quality. They do it for Gmail so why not results. It's not that hard really. I have much more of an inclination to ban something than to pollute my favorites list with stuff i think is ok-ish. Even if it became too easy to game (ala page rank did?) then they could make it not count except for that one user.

Excellent Idea (1)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958840)

I would sooo use that feature!

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959124)

It seems like it would be pretty easy to write a GreaseMonkey script to add a pre-defined set of search terms to every search, so you could write out a list in the form -site:spamsite1.com -site:spamsite2.com etc.

You could also probably edit the Firefox search engine definition to do it automatically when you search from the search bar.

Re:Pshaw (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958626)

There's no way to know what kind of empirical tests they do. So your anecdotal evidence may well measure a different aspect that is being ignored in their tests.

Empiricism is all about saying "Here's what I did, and those are the results.". It's not empirical to say "Trust me, I did something I can't tell you about, and the results are really good".

Whew! (2, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958646)

"Our tests say we're better than what our customers are saying!"

That's what I tell my girlfriend (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958742)

That's what I tell the missus. Her anecdotes can't be true, according to my metrics, my sexual performance is not just great, it improved by an order of two in the last 5 years.

Of course, I can't tell you or her what my numbers are, or what I measured, or how, because it's proprietary and a trade secret.

Re:That's what I tell my girlfriend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959034)

That's what I tell the missus. Her anecdotes can't be true, according to my metrics, my sexual performance is not just great, it improved by an order of two in the last 5 years.

Of course, I can't tell you or her what my numbers are, or what I measured, or how, because it's proprietary and a trade secret.

Number of orgasms she fakes of course.

Re:Pshaw (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959114)

Speaking of anecdotal evidence, just now I was going to google something about the Nyquist Limit, but I couldn't remember the "Nyquist" part. CD limit, CD 22kHz limit, digital sound limit... I finally gave up. Without the word "Nyquist" or knowledge of the Nyquist Limit, you just can't google to find out why you can't record a frequency higher than 22kHz on a CD.

So Google, get working on it.

We rock!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958348)

According to our own tests we are 100% awesome. We have tested you and you are not :( --Elgoog

Re:We rock!! (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958546)

According to our own tests we are 100% awesome.

Oh Come on Google, with all your money you couldn't eve pay a disinterested third party to... oh... nevermind.

Re:We rock!! (2)

tacktick (1866274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958652)

Yep Google's search results are totally fine and relevant, fresh, yadda yadda. In fact they are even better than they were years ago!

Oh Btw,
".. we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content."

Like Jon Stewart says "Whabba wha?"

Re:We rock!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958814)

What aré these metrics? Their incomes???

Re:We rock!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958876)

Hah! I'm 110 % more awesome than you! - Bing

To big to fail (1, Funny)

said213 (72685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958410)

Trust google. Trust everything about them.
"Don't be evil" = "Eh. That's good enough."

Re:To big to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958500)

Alright, let's compare:
  • Google: other search engines are now approaching Google in search result quality. There may now be some competition again in the search engine business instead of the entirely one-sidedness we saw for basically 5 years.
  • Banks: Received trillions of dollars after negligently screwing over everyone... including themselves. We decided they were too big to fail.

Are you really comparing these two?

Re:To big to fail (0)

said213 (72685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958692)

Actually, I'm failing to see the abstract which you're asserting here, so; why not compare the two?

But, more to the point of the title, Google is too big to fail. If they're feeding you spammy search results, odds are you will move on to page 2 rather than switching to an alternate search engine. It is because of this that they can claim that their metrics match their objectives and defy public opinion. The public, having received an answer, continues to utilize the service. That makes them too big to fail.

Re:To big to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958754)

Too big to fail refers to organizations that, if they collapsed, would cause severe economic harm rather than simply being replaced by competitors. It implies that such entities, even if private, require protection by the government. Are you suggesting that the government is protecting Google's interest in the same way that the banks were given trillions of dollars?

Or, are you using the words "to [sic] big to fail" in an entirely unconventional and confusing way?

Re:To big to fail (1)

said213 (72685) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959020)

In plain english, "Too big to fail," is a fairly simple statement. Google is simply too big of a company for any complaint to bear genuine relevance... And just like any other monolithic corporation, they have problems. And; they'll fix them, when they can... when they have to. It's a major shift in going from "Don't be evil" to "Move along, nothing to see here" which demonstrates that they, too, know that they are too big to fail... And, not in a bailout sense. It's far more potentially insidious; They're too big to fail and there's virtually nothing that anyone can do about it.

When a company becomes too big to fail, they begin making statements and taking stances such as those which we are referring to here. "Too big to fail" isn't a banking or industry term any more than "Mission Accomplished" is a declaration of victory.

Re:To big to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959298)

In plain english,[sic] "Too big to fail," is a fairly simple statement. Google is simply too big of a company for any complaint to bear genuine relevance...

"Too big to fail" could be a simple statement by some metrics. I propose a metric which enumerates obvious meanings and ranks them by popular use in recent time. I will leave the determination of recent time and ranking algorithms for the reader. First, let us enumerate the meanings. One could be that the entity is too big to be able to fail; it is impossible for the entity to fail. Another could be that the entity's failure would be catastrophic in some manner and it should not be allowed to fail; it is possible to fail but we must prevent it. Which of these two meanings has been used more often in our society in recent times? Again, I will not take the time to determine ranking or time-frame, but will put forth that I feel it is obviously the other meaning, that we should not allow said entity to fail. This subjective opinion comes from reporting about entities we have saved from failing for the reason that they are "too big to fail" and no use of the meaning that an entity has no possibility of failure in my exposure to our society's communications. I would propose, with no way to measure, that many other readers on this site at this time have had similar exposure to society's communications and may also come to the same meaning. Now, what you can do, to avoid ambiguity, especially if intending a meaning other than the one used most often most recently by our society, is to clarify what you mean. You have done that, as I quote above. Hence, the original statement "too big to fail" is not quite as simple in plain English, as you assert.

By their metric, there is no problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958424)

A typical problem companies have is measuring the quality of their products: By their metric, it's great! But per the user experience it's not. The users must be wrong.

The metric doesn't always capture the things that the users care about. Also, expectations can change. Better than five years ago may not be good enough

Based on my experience, Google's search quality is insufficient to make it useful for most purposes. It's plan B now. No search engine is much better, but plan A is to use better resources: Wikipedia, knowledge written or compiled by an expert, etc.

Re:By their metric, there is no problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958788)

Indeed. "No problem."

Sort of like not too long ago, reCAPTCHA "wasn't cracked"... which, incidentally, they announced shortly before they added a filter that randomly replaces black pixels with white ones in a vertical stripe somewhere in the image. See? [google.com] (It does, however, make it incredibly easy to tell which word is the "challenge" word and which one isn't.)

Re:By their metric, there is no problem (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959230)

The whole 'user experience says one thing but we say another' is a pretty good way to kill your business. I mean it worked for AMC...very well infact.

Re:By their metric, there is no problem (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959348)

The metric doesn't always capture the things that the users care about.

Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness.

I hate how searches with a word that has recently been in the news get flooded with crap from the newscycle. I wish I knew a way to tell google's filters that stale results are fine and/or better than fresh ones.

The Freshness Metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958448)

Inherited from Mentos, The Freshmaker

hmm (4, Insightful)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958458)

"spam in most other languages is even lower than in English."

this is definately not true for Spanish. There has always been a higher level of spam results for Spanish

Re:hmm (0)

franciscohs (1003004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959092)

I second that, I was just going to post that when I saw your post.

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959204)

lol...no comment.

Except that it isn't... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958460)

Bottom line is that their 'metrics' are faulty. Who gives a damn about freshness when the content is irrelevant. Bottom line is that in recent memory its actually more difficult to find good results using google.

PS. No one cares about forum postings that barely scratch the surface of a subject, contain incomprehensible grammar, or just contain questions about your topic rather than relevant information. But if google doesn't even want to recognize that it is doing things that customers don't like they will eventually go the way of the dodo bird as well.

When you're losing, just change how you keep score (4, Interesting)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958462)

the evaluation metrics we've refined over the past decade

In other words, as long as they keep changing the evaluation criteria, they always pass them!

I've seen more parked domains in google results than I have actually content recenty.

Re:When you're losing, just change how you keep sc (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958688)

Exactly. Who gives a rat's ass if your spam is 1/2 what it was 5 years ago.
Does anyone really remember results from 5 years ago?
It's certainly much more than it was 1 year ago.

"less than half" answers the wrong question (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958490)

If I do a search for something "easy" to find, I don't care that much whether there are 30% spam results or 15% spam results. What I care about is how often I do a search for some obscure information that's surely out there but 95% or more of the results are spam and I have a lot of trouble finding what I'm looking for.

In my purely anecdotal experience, that's definitely up in the past couple of years, but it's something that I suspect is rather difficult for Google to quantify.

Sorry Google (3, Informative)

stox (131684) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958498)

But it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the information I really want/need in my searchs.Maybe it is time to change your metrics.

Re:Sorry Google (1)

nicholas22 (1945330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958666)

Have you TRIED any other search engine? These guys have been working hard to claw a 0.1% from Google. And along the way they have actually managed to produce some pretty nifty search algorithms. I have stopped using Google for 2 years now and have seldom been let down by my new search engine.

Re:Sorry Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958720)

Which ones?

(Genuinely curious; post anonymous if you must.)

Re:Sorry Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958674)

Would you mind giving an example or 5?

Re:Sorry Google (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958702)

My favorite part is how searching for something that happens to appear in a Stackoverflow question returns dozens of sites that copy and paste the Stackoverflow content surrounded by ads.

Re:Sorry Google (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959082)

The sig would be more accurate if it said...
If Google can scan unprotected WiFi networks, then I can listen to you scream at the top of your lungs to your neighbors.

Re:Sorry Google (1)

gilbert644 (1515625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959108)

The obvious solution is to have the ratio of ads vs content affect the sites ranking, but when you are in the business of selling ads that's not very desirable.

Re:Sorry Google (1)

nashv (1479253) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958874)

That is simply because search algorithm and related technology progresses slower than technologies allowing morons to put crap onto a machine and connect it to the internet.

Re:Sorry Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958886)

Agreed... I think they are defining "spam" as useless ad pages. However, most people go for the original definition: crap that drowns out the useful stuff. Useless ad pages represent a small fraction of this anymore, and I believe they did decrease. These days, however, search results are loaded with even more useless crap. If you search for an uncommon science topic, you get 90+% pay walled journal articles. Search for a programming topic and most of the pages are just forum aggregators. This is pretty common for most searches... Just because the results are relevant doesn't mean they are at all useful.

To find what you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959128)

Always use advanced search and the filters.

Google is history... (5, Insightful)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958510)

" according to the evaluation metrics that we’ve refined over more than a decade, Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness. "

And thus begins the downfall of Google. Once you start drinking your own lemonade and stop listening to the people who use your product, you're on a greased downhill slope.

Re:Google is history... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959116)

Or maybe the put this out so that the masses say "Um yeah. I remember now he is right." and go on using Google and at the same time they may actually be looking how to improve the results.

Re:Google is history... (2)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959156)

Google's product is not searching, it is advertising. The people who "use their product" are advertisers, not searchers.

Re:Google is history... (5, Funny)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959208)

" according to the evaluation metrics that we’ve refined over more than a decade, Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness. "

And thus begins the downfall of Google. Once you start drinking your own lemonade and stop listening to the people who use your product, you're on a greased downhill slope.

That's not lemonade.

Dear Google (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958532)

Perception is reality.

Anyway, I think the argument is: The spammers are gaming your Metrics. It's not that there's 50% less spam in your search results, it's that you're detecting 50% less spam in the first place.

google is... (1)

Biggseye (1520195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958534)

Google does not have spam, Google is spam.

Believing their own press (2)

MMORG (311325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958544)

See, this is where Google goes off the rails and starts to believe its own press. Cutts said, in effect, "Our search engine tells us that our search engine is doing just fine." Yeah, well, ultimately Google's search engine isn't the center of the universe and the ultimate authority on everything. The users are. If the users say that the quality of search results are going down, then they're going down. Period. Google better figure out how to change their evaluation metrics to reflect what users are seeing rather than attempt to change user's opinions to match what their evaluation metrics say.

I call no-way (5, Informative)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958552)

Every time I search for something these days I get some ridiculous set of non-results due to the fuzzy matching. I search for "TIPC layer3" google nicely finds me results about TCP Layer3 because google thinks I must have typo'd something. This happens constantly with one or two letter off searches where the search results I get are adjusted because the alternative ranks higher.

Google's search is not getting better, it's getting more and more 'Clippy' every year.

Re:I call no-way (4, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958704)

And I'm out of moderator points. Between the "oh, you're looking for something obscure... here's something that's spelled similarly" mentalality, and constantly returning pages from 2003 about technical subjects, it's pretty hard to find anything on Google that I care about. Except for using them to find large corporate sites.

Add the fact that spam copies are constantly higher than the original, and I see no solution.

Re:I call no-way (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958866)

There is a classic story told to students of statistics about drunk man who is looking for his car keys under the street lights. When a passer by asks him if he dropped his keys by the street lights, the drunk answers ‘no, but the light is better here’.

Re:I call no-way (3, Insightful)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958928)

You bring up other great points.. Spam copies are maddening.

There needs to be a 'never show me results from this domain' button to blacklist this garbage and keep people from gaming the system.

Re:I call no-way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958968)

you know, there's date filtering out to the left.

Re:I call no-way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959040)

Mod parent up...to +10 if possible, I would love to have some google option I could turn on in a cookie to say ALWAYS only search for my exact term and not include anything "similar" or tangentially related...I know you can format queries for that but you end up with something that almost looks like a regex just trying to do a simple search, and it's a royal pain.

Re:I call no-way (1)

ian_from_brisbane (596121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959316)

I completely agree with you and GP; both the 'clippy' remark and the 'regex' remark are spot on.

Re:I call no-way (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959140)

Seems to me that you need to refine your queries. I think people have come to expect Google to find relevant stuff with an almost magical and eerie accuracy. Now that Spammers have caught on, it's time to understand how Google can help you refine queries. Use +, -, ", site:, intitle:, etc.

The other thing is that while Google does have some issues with spam (specifically around rebroadcast content), I'm not sure the other search engines are better. Bing has its own set of issues, Yahoo is Bing, and none of the new search engines are useful. The only problem I'm considering switching over is that Google Maps is regularly having issues with proper placement and finding the right route. Again, I've gotten used to an almost magical quality to direction searches and I'm trusting Google maps more than I trusted any other map software before. But there is definitely the feel that its usefulness has taken a step back.

Re:I call no-way (4, Funny)

jeek (37349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958718)

Yeah, I had the same issue searching for scrotwm, a window manager I was checking the man page for.

Re:I call no-way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958838)

Yeah, I had the same issue searching for scrotwm, a window manager I was checking the man pages for.

FTFY

Re:I call no-way (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959028)

I search for "TIPC Layer 3" and get your post as result 1, something about tips on a 3 layer cake second, and the wikipedia entry for TIPC third.

I search for "scrotwm" and the home page is result 1 and the man page result 2.

If I search for "TPC Layer 3" I get stuff about "closed loop transmit power control" with a "Did you mean: TCP Layer 3" at the top acting as a link to that search. So no changes in the actual search done, but a hint that I might have spelled something wrong.

We are talking about entering stuff in http://www.google.com/ [google.com] right?

I'm pretty sure I have seen it automatically make the spelling correction in the past (with a notice that it did so), but the original search was returning 0 results...

Re:I call no-way (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958722)

I search for "TIPC layer3" and I get a bunch of links about tips for things like layer 3 switches, layer 3 audio, etc. No TCP correction, but a tips one. What were you actually looking for?

Re:I call no-way (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958908)

If TIPC can be routed. I figured out my answer, it's more of a general example of the dumbification of search..

I know you can do +TIPC to force it not to look for TIPS or TCP.. It's more of a general criticism that google more and more is catering to sheeple without making it easy to not be a sheeple.

Re: too helpful? (-1)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958796)

Yeah... because one extra click on "Search instead for TIPC layer3" is too hard?

Re: too helpful? (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958964)

Typing things in correctly apparently is harder. Why should I play on hard-mode because I know how to search correctly?

You can't argue that google wants to limit 'bad' searches -- the search-while-you-type feature obliterates that argument. They don't care about the number of searches you do, and seemingly less and less about the quality.

Re: too helpful? (1)

adunstan (1409073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959186)

Yeah... because one extra click on "Search instead for TIPC layer3" is too hard?

When it adds up to 5000 extra clicks because you find yourself having to do it for almost every other search... yes. I preferred how they used to do it by actually searching for the term you type in and suggesting the term they think it should be, rather than how it is now where they automatically redirect you to what they think it should be and make you click to search what you actually typed.

Re:I call no-way (1)

chad_r (79875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958902)

Sometimes it's necessary to add the plus sign to force an exact match. "+TIPC layer3" may give you better results.

Re:I call no-way (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958992)

Yep. I know. I wrote some javascript that automatically puts a plus sign in front of every word in non-quoted searches I do.

Too bad they don't have a real API.

Re:I call no-way (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958988)

Here's a data point.

Try the simple word "Advanced".
Purpose is to find the engine's Advanced Search, without cheating from hardlocked results.

Advance Auto Parts is #1 on both Google and Yahoo, proudly claimed as an Ad/Sponsored. Then they get a bonus listing about #2 as well. Is it "fresh" or "spam" if it's a paid result?

But here's TehAwesum:
AltaVista Advanced Search is #6 and Yahoo Advanced Search is #10 on Google.
(Google advanced search is #9 on Yahoo.)

Your Move, Matt Cutts!

What is considered spam anyway? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958564)

What is considered spam anyway?

I mean, I'm sure I'd like to have an "expert" perform my "sexchange" if I want one, but I was just looking for help solving a programming bug.

I also appreciate that some sites try to help me with my searching, but I'd rather have them provide answers instead of giving yet more search results.

Re:What is considered spam anyway? (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958694)

In this context, spam means web sites that don't actually contain any real content, just junk text, lists of keywords, etc., together with paid links or banner ads and the like. They won't answer any question you may have, unless you are asking to see more spam. There is more and more of this crap, and it dominates some web search queries.

Re:What is considered spam anyway? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959402)

In this context, spam means web sites that don't actually contain any real content, just junk text, lists of keywords, etc., together with paid links or banner ads and the like. They won't answer any question you may have, unless you are asking to see more spam. There is more and more of this crap, and it dominates some web search queries.

I think that according to google, these days, Spam is defined as advertising not profiting google itself :(

Re:What is considered spam anyway? (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958870)

expertsexchange results are actually pretty good (or well they used to be...have not used them in a while).

The key is realizing that if you scroll to the very bottom of the page...all of the answers they are asking you to sign up and pay for are already there. Maybe they have changed it but you used to be able to get the full text of the answers by just scrolling down or using google cache (or a user agent switcher to pretend you are google)

Re:What is considered spam anyway? (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959276)

What is considered spam anyway?

I mean, I'm sure I'd like to have an "expert" perform my "sexchange" if I want one, but I was just looking for help solving a programming bug.

I also appreciate that some sites try to help me with my searching, but I'd rather have them provide answers instead of giving yet more search results.

Yeah, when you could customize searches, I always removed "experts exchange" results from my searches, but I don't think google got the hint. They still come up all the f'ing time, and I don't think you can customize searches anymore. Never mattered anyway.
-Taylor

Can Google afford to stop spam? (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958594)

Google has a dilemma. If their search engine takes you directly to the place you want to go, they don't make any money. For a good analysis of this, see "Google Sucks All the Way to the Bank" [isedb.com] , by Jill Whalen She is, unfortunately, right. It's essential for Google's success that some of their own ads be more relevant than their search results. Part of their revenue comes from sending users on a side-trip to AdWords-heavy pages. We've measured this [sitetruth.net] , using a browser plug-in which reports AdWords appearances to us. About 36% of domains with AdWords (counting domain names, not traffic) are what we consider "bottom feeders", junk sites with a commercial purpose but no identifiable business behind them.

On the local search front, spam in Google Places is even worse than in their main search results. This, though, appears to be due to ineptitude, not malice. Google added a business search system to Google Maps a year or two ago; that's what Google Places really is. You've been able to go to a Google Maps page and search for businesses for some time now. Few people knew this.

Then, in October 2010, Google merged the map search results into their main search results. "Places" results suddenly got top billing in Google. The "search engine optimization" (SEO) industry swung into action, and began spamming Google Places on a massive scale. (We have a paper on this [sitetruth.com] , which has been mentioned by Techdirt, the New York Observer, etc. It's an amusing read.) Recommendation spamming, which had been going on for a while at a low level, grew substantially once recommendations started affecting Google search results.

This, incidentally, is why Blekko won't work. If they get enough market share to matter, techniques will be developed to spam them into meaninglessness.

Stopping web spam is technically quite possible. We do it by finding the business behind the web site, and doing some automated due diligence. We check business records, SEC filings, BBB ratings, and Dun and Bradstreet to verify business legitimacy. We down-rate most of the junk. We try to err in the down-rating direction, taking the position that it's the job of a company to demonstrate their legitimacy by using their real name and address on their web site, which has to match real-world business records. Our demo site demo site [sitetruth.com] for this shows what search is like if you take a hard line on spam.

Our approach requires more of a hard-ass attitude than Google's business model can perhaps afford. With Bleekko making Google look foolish, though, and Bing slowly improving, Google may have to actually do something that works, even if it cuts into revenue from the spam.

A Poor Google Experience (4, Insightful)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958620)

I've switched to other search engines; from my experience, Google provides too many tangential and corporate references when I do research.

Also, how does Google "know" that their search results were valid? I'll often do a Google search, click a couple of links, and after being disappointed, I'll go to another search engine where I get more useful results.

What bugs me the most are searches on technical or medical topics, where Google give me a dozen "harvester" results -- e.g., I get sites that have stolen conversations from other message boards, and reported them along with tons of ads. Yuck! There must be dozens of hundreds of sites, all with broken answers to questions about JavaScript and/or medicines.

Just because evidence is anecdotal doesn't mean it should be blithely discounted. If I say "Ouch" at being cut, that means the injury hurt me; the pain is quite real even if no one else has felt it.

Re:A Poor Google Experience (2)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958836)

I'm kind of like you, only I "know" beforehand which engine I want to use.

  • Bing is pretty concise, but obviously limits a lot of choices.
  • Blekko is pretty interesting, and I use it so far as a novelty.
  • I use Google when I want a metric assload of results that I know I'll have to sort through myself.
  • I use Indeed for job hunting.
  • I mainly use Pricewatch for shopping.
  • And Wolfram Alpha is kind of fun for niche stuff and automatic answers.

The reality of it all is Google is not the optimal search engine.... nobody's search engine is.

Re:A Poor Google Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959346)

I'm kind of like you, only I "know" beforehand which engine I want to use.

  • Bing is pretty concise, but obviously limits a lot of choices.
  • Blekko is pretty interesting, and I use it so far as a novelty.
  • I use Google when I want a metric assload of results that I know I'll have to sort through myself.
  • I use Indeed for job hunting.
  • I mainly use Pricewatch for shopping.
  • And Wolfram Alpha is kind of fun for niche stuff and automatic answers.

The reality of it all is Google is not the optimal search engine.... nobody's search engine is.

Using Bing just puts you in the Microsoft Shill category.

The spammers are winning (for now). (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958636)

I think that the solid consensus among the people I know that track such things is that the spammers are winning and the quality of search is going down. I know that this is my own experience. That may or may not mean that Google is slacking off, but I don't think that perception comes from thin air.

In the meantime, Google is busted! Re: Java code. (-1, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958698)

Google might be in trouble [businessinsider.com] when it comes to Android code.

Re:In the meantime, Google is busted! Re: Java cod (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958852)

Did you miss this [slashdot.org] earlier today?

FUD (2, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958728)

I'm seeing less spam than a few years ago when link farms and Wikipedia clones were showing up everywhere on the top results pages. This smells like Microsoft funded FUD.

Re:FUD (3, Insightful)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958872)

I don't think it is. I (and apparently quite a few responders here) am seeing worse results now than ever before. Anything remotely close to what I search for tends to start around the third or fourth result (not including sponsored results).

Re:FUD (2)

micheas (231635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959248)

Out of curiosity, what do you typically search for that you see worse results?

I ask because I have noticed a noticeable improvement in the last year, after about two years of the spammers consistently causing me to alter my search patterns, but I mostly search error messages.

Quality searches? HA! (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958736)

Just try to find XP drivers without going some spammy "driversdownload.com". Google is good for one thing...barroom trivia and shopping.. okay two things...

Re:Quality searches? HA! (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959410)

Ah. I am not a windows user, and don't help that many problems on windows, but I remember that garbage site the last time I had to rebuild a windows computer, IIRC I wound up finding the manufacturers website and using "site:devicemanufacturer.com my device" as the search string. Otherwise I got nothing but malware and spam.

I knew people were not making up their stories about the horrible results, I just haven't been hitting them.

Linux system admin has gotten a lot better over the last couple years, and mysq and postgres searches normally take me to the official documentation instead of some random howto that is mostly wrong.

To me it looks like search engine spam is going up (3, Informative)

linebackn (131821) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958756)

I've certainly noticed the quality of searches going down recently, at least for less common searches. I regularly search for oddball system files, software, drivers, etc, the first few pages of results are often very scammy looking sites devoid of actual content and what I am looking for is a dozen pages in. Often these results trump even official big company web sites. Heck while half asleep I used Google to search for OpenOffice, clicked the first link, clicked a big download button, and when trying to install it later I realized whatever I downloaded was certainly *NOT* OpenOffice. (Don't know what it was, I deleted it quickly)

Three word search should give exact results! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34958762)

Google's biggest mistake is that when I search three words, for example "kontact outer space", I don't get the result of those three words. I don't want google to outsmart me. Sure, they might suggest that I misspelled "kontact" and that it should be "contact", but I know better (kontact is a KDE PIM suite you know). Now I have to add those "+" in front of all words. Annoying. Other than that, google really sucks at searching exact phrases that include punctuation, such as programming code. But that's another story, and pretty OT...

Content Mills & Bad Metrics (5, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958844)

In the last few years, I've found search results have been dominated more and more by content mills like associated content, ehow, hubpages, about, and others; or some low quality Q&A page, like yahoo answers. The pages are hastily written and edited, and low content. The articles are also typically written by someone without any relevant knowledge or experience - so the information is common knowledge or wrong.

If google's metrics say quality is up, but their users think quality is down, then google's metrics need to be revised to match user experience more closely. I've started using duck duck go [duckduckgo.com] because they block content mills, and thus I think their results are as good or better than google, even without the complicated algorithms and all the data google has accumulated.

Morons @ Google... (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34958880)

In my own experience spam on google is constantly getting worse and more fustrating to deal with ... I expect it for searches where there is not likely to be any hits but it is also starting to creep into top spots in situations where there is more dense information available.

I remember back in the day people working logistics used to run algorithms to maximize profits for store supply chains but their efforts actually lost a great deal of revenue as algorithms did not understand human factors and how people having to go somewhere else to get an objectivly less profitable item would impact their sales.

It is a complex space and to think you can simply throw algorithms at detecting and characterizing a problem you can't detect and quantify in the first place (Unless they actually can but are choosing not to for obvious evil reasons) seems more than just a little bit naive.

If I were google I would conduct a survey and see what real humans think about the problem rather than playing the part of a foolish statistician.

I also take exception to Matts message.. don't tell someone whos pissed off about the amount of spam that it is getting better. This is an amature hour loosing proposition. Just tell us what you plan on doing to fix it or don't say anything at all.

Google groups (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959118)

They should also take a look at the Google groups interface to Usenet. It's nothing but spam.

By the power of logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34959190)

We have been accused of having a trash detector that has started to fail at detecting trash and therefore that our content has a lot of trash in it.

This is false. You see, we carefully analyzed our content using our trash detector and it detected 50% less trash than before, showing that our content is now cleaner than ever.

man I miss the [x] (1)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 3 years ago | (#34959222)

Remember the olden days when you could [x] kill a domain that didn't ever want to see again?

Why did they ever get rid of that?

I've taken to using this instead, works great. http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/33156 [userscripts.org]

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