Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Vehemently Denies Google's "Bing Sting"

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the big-surprise-here dept.

Google 596

eldavojohn writes "In a blog post titled 'Setting the Record Straight,' Microsoft's senior vice president of online services, Yusuf Mehdi, addressed Google's 'Bing Sting' operation saying, 'We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.' Mehdi went on to claim that Google engaged in 'click fraud' in order to rig up their alleged 'experiment.' Mehdi added, 'That's right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn't already know.' The struggle for Bing to usurp Google as number one in search continues."

cancel ×

596 comments

Response from Another VP (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090288)

When I submitted the story, I had not noticed an additional response from Harry Shum, VP of Bing, who said [bing.com] :

To be clear, we learn from all of our customers. What we saw in today’s story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking. It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed compliment. But it doesn’t accurately portray how we use opt-in customer data as one of many inputs to help improve our user experience.

Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

Re:Response from Another VP (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090382)

Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

I don't thing they're wrong. I remember years and years ago how excited the Slashdot crowd got when Microsoft started directly addressing their superiority over Linux in their marketing propaganda. It meant Linux was enough of a threat that Microsoft was taking it seriously.

When was the last time you heard Google talk about other search engines? When it comes to searching, Google's been the undisputed market leader for a long time. For them to seriously acknowledge Bing, even if it's solely in the form of criticism, is still a big step.

Re:Response from Another VP (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090404)

Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

It's like in a kid's cartoon, where the hero says something like "This is a terrible crime you're committing, villanor!" and the villain says something like "MUAHAHAHA, why yes, it's wonderfully terrible, isn't it?"

Re:Response from Another VP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090474)

Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

It's like in a kid's cartoon, where the hero says something like "This is a terrible crime you're committing, villanor!" and the villain says something like "MUAHAHAHA, why yes, it's wonderfully terrible, isn't it?"

Except that a backhanded compliment [wikipedia.org] is not actually a compliment.

Re:Response from Another VP (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090632)

If anything, it's the opposite of a backhanded compliment. A backhanded insult perhaps? Front footed insult? Not sure there's a phrase for it. I propose we call it the "Google reach around".

Re:Response from Another VP (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090792)

If anything, it's the opposite of a backhanded compliment. A backhanded insult perhaps? Front footed insult? Not sure there's a phrase for it. I propose we call it the "Google reach around".

Hmmm, I guess we should just coin 'a Bing compliment' as the proper term to refer to this?

Re:Response from Another VP (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090784)

They'll forever be known by me as "Sideshow Bing" now, thanks.

Re:Response from Another VP (3, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090482)

Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

It is a complement in a way. If you accuse someone of cheating you are also admiting that you noticed them, they are relevant, and they are annoying you.

Sadly the core of the story that bing is using dodgy tactics to catch up with technically better competition is just business as usual.

Re:Response from Another VP (3, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090690)

I still don't understand how this is in any way dodgey or underhanded.

  1. Step 1: User opts in to report anonymous clickthrough data to Bing
  2. Step 2: User searches for a term, chooses a search result
  3. Step 3: Microsoft gets the data and compares it against relevent information for that search term.

Since google chose a random, unique for their search term, there is nothing to compare the user behavior with so it receives a disproportionately high amount of weight. With actual search terms, what a user searches for on google will have significantly less weight in the rankings, and depending on their algorithm could be next to inconsequential.

But the fact remains that looking at how customers use the competition (especially the frontrunner) is prevalent in all industries, and is a really smart idea from a business standpoint, and only serves to benefit your customers. By the looks of Google's optional photo homepage, they are guilty of it too (and if they weren't doing more I would be shocked). It seems the only people who are upset about this are Google, and people loyal to Google (most /. users).

Re:Response from Another VP (2)

smartr (1035324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090680)

Here's what I don't get.... How the heck does Bing go about grabbing Google's search results vicariously through users? Even if you tracked a user's click-through activities, it would only increase the strength of the webpages they go to, not correlate that data with unrelated topics. The results should not have been showing up on Bing's pages at all. To re-iterate, how is Bing associating webpages that have no reason to match search terms to those specific terms? I suppose they could monitor searches through the search bar, then track what results the user's clicked (sounds like a powerful way for spammers to spam Bing's results - spam search plugin anyone?). I have to really wonder if stealing everyone else's results through drone users is really what makes a "smart" search engine. You'd probably have to add *weight* to the results based on the plug-in used.

Re:Response from Another VP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090698)

And if Bing does "usurp Google as number one in search", how will that affect the quality of their results? When the "opt-in customer data" doesn't include information about which links their customers clicked when performing searches using their competitors search engines, will the user experience continue to improve?

Or maybe that's only important until Microsoft becomes number one...

Re:Response from Another VP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090774)

Don't these Microsoft spindoctors ever get tired of there own verbal excrements?

Re:Response from Another VP (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090808)

The implication of this article is quite clear:
1) We are not copying Googles results
2) We are monitoring what users search for and the pages they end up on as input to our search algorithm.

If 2 is true, then 1 is false, that much is clear. But there is a deeper question: is 2 a valid tactic to improve your search? I would argue that it is, even if it does indirectly copy your competitors results.

I agree (5, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090312)

The fact that microsoft technology has advanced to the point of linking

"delhipublicschool40 chdjob"
to a Credit Union website

is simply showing how well they understand their potential customers, and has nothing to do with the fact that Google set them up at all.

Re:I agree (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090384)

I have to say that response made me chuckle

Feigned insult followed by a sleight of hand in trying to associate Google's research with spammers, fraudsters, and criminals.

What a terrible attempt at denial, it's not like they actually gave any evidence in their defence. They just pretended to be offended, and then tried to change the subject.

I'm usually quite supportive of Microsoft because I honestly believe some of their products (e.g. Visual Studio) are best of breed, but this is just a joke. They seem to have been caught red handed and have no idea how to deal with it, they'd have been better off just staying quiet and letting the story fade into obscurity than crying out like this without being able to offer the slightest bit of real actual defence such as an explanation of why they ended up with an obscure search term in their search results that Google had manufactured on their search engine.

Re:I agree (3, Interesting)

aug24 (38229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090574)

Next thing to do is for someone, maybe someone 'anonymous' to use the same trick to spam the rankings. Simply set up a proxy so that when you hit google for xxx, it returns a page containing yyy then click on it. Automate. Repeat.

Challenge: get Goatse on the first page for George W or T Blair, perhaps, or at least the dictionary page for 'idiot'.

Justin.

Re:I agree (5, Insightful)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090602)

They did offer a defense: it's the customer data. What happens is even if that customer data is only weighted as 0.001% as important as their other metrics, if that customer data is the ONLY data they have for these bogus search terms, this would happen. Google used obviously bogus search terms which have exaggerated the weighting of that data. In reality, that data might only move a page up or down a ranking on page 10 of a real search on Bing for all we know.

Unless they come up with some actual evidence of real copying, this is a non-story. The #1 complaint around here all the time seems to be that Bing ISN'T giving the same results as Google so obviously that customer data isn't be weighted as important enough!

Re:I agree (1)

FromageTheDog (775349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090674)

For God's sake, mod this guy up! A sensible, considered response, among the "look, I hate Microsoft too!" sheep. Look, I hate Microsoft too, but let's be reasonable! ;-)

Re:I agree (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090790)

a weighted theft is no less theft than actual theft. that is not 'customer data' they're collecting.

they're purposefully collecting and parsing search result generated from customer data by google.
it's as bad as a google or wikipedia iframe but more subtle. they are after all collecting advertisement money. ok, it's not as bad as murder or actual theft, still...

quite a difference there.

Re:I agree (3, Funny)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090386)

Their technology is so advanced, how to we know they weren't linking "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" to Credit Union websites _before_ Google was? Maybe the Goog stole it from _them_.

Re:I agree (1)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090426)

Because Google had a reason to link "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" to Credit Union (to deceive Bing), while Bing had not.

Re:I agree (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090442)

Psst, we're all being sarcastic here.

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090592)

I think their argument was that their engine uses opt in data to link pages to search queries in order to better serve the customer base.

The opt in data showed users using google were searching for "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" and were clicking on a credit union website.

Keep in mind this is exactly what Google did. They told their employees to use the Google search engine to search for pre-generated term and click the link while simultaneously opting to to send search data through IE or a toolbar to Microsoft for study.

There is no way for a search engine to know that "insertrandomname" is the site that users want when they search for "pens" or whatever they are searching for, so they look at click data to help the engine rank the correct pages. Microsoft openly admits that they take click data from other search engines through the use of their toolbar and through internet explorer. This is far from "stealing"... it's data collection. Computer just make this collection far easier that in the past.

To use the obligatory car analogy, lots of car companies try to gather information about what people like and dislike about the competitors cars. I swapped from Ford to Subaru because the focus stopped offering a hatchback-- I told the salesman this. He said they were getting a lot of feedback like that and ford was promising a new hothach later in the year because of it-- did Ford "steal" the idea of releasing a hothatch from Subaru or did they listen to customer data and react accordingly?

Google had it's workers deliberately send data to Microsoft that said people who search for "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" really want to find this credit union site-- so Microsoft linked them together to better serve the customer. Google's "sting" operation is nothing more than feeding bad data into Microsoft's data set. Keep in mind that click data is only one metric, but it becomes much more weighted when the search term is nonsense-- there are no other cues to go on.

All this says is that Microsoft is willing to use other peoples data to help it's users. As long as it isn't the ONLY thing they are using, I'm fine with this. In fact, it probably makes searching on Bing a lot better, since it leverages multiple engines as opposed to one.

Re:I agree (5, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090776)

Here's the thing.

Search engines work like this

Query ---> [S.E.] --> Results

A clever search engine (one with high precision and recall) will give you the results you want. If you click on a result, you are assumed to have found that link useful. Google does that on its own search engine - and that's fair enough.

Now if I capture "Query" and "Correct Result", I am basically using the other search engine's technology (which is used to supply that good result) and the result of all the data collection, research and whatever - in order to improve my search results. That's not a very fair game. If my search results heavily depend on Google's search results - I am piggybacking off them.

I've nothing wrong with Google or Bing reading my searches I input into them and improving their product that way - I don't think its fair if the other company steals this data off other search engines.

Re:I agree (0)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090848)

I've nothing wrong with Google or Bing reading my searches I input into them and improving their product that way - I don't think its fair if the other company steals this data off other search engines.

Bing-o.

If MS wants to use its search bar to anonymously send search statistics from Bing searches, I'm okay with that.

I'm less okay with them using it to send search statistics from searches performed on other search engines.

Re:I agree (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090636)

Also see: googlebombing....

Anyone looking at the evidence knows MS cheats (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090316)

... and this is just par for the course for them.

Nice to see them finally getting their just desserts elewhere - Window Phone 7 is the Next of kin of the KIN and KIN2.

Or we could say "just deserts" because of the rate at which people have deserted Microsoft in the mobile space - down more than 50% from just a year ago. to just over 3%.

Re:Anyone looking at the evidence knows MS cheats (0)

Peter Mork (951443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090668)

Actually, the phrase really is "just deserts." Just desserts might mean eating cake and ice cream for dinner.

SO WHAT (2, Interesting)

Apocryphos (1222870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090324)

It makes no difference either way. Bing is a search engine. I don't care if all it did was run your query over to Google and search on it and return the results with its own front.

Welcome to the internet, whiners. Anyone ever use aggregate search engines before? Chill out.

Re:SO WHAT (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090366)

I don't care if all it did was run your query over to Google and search on it and return the results with its own front.

I do, if I could get the same results directly from Google - faster, and presumably with less ads.

Re:SO WHAT (1)

Apocryphos (1222870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090658)

yeah, so then you go use google when you notice it's faster and don't use bing anymore. I don't see where the outrage comes from. Just cuz M$ ?

Re:SO WHAT (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090486)

Do you work at Cooks Source magazine by any chance?

Re:SO WHAT (1)

Apocryphos (1222870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090700)

Are you implying that Google owns a copyright on their search results?

Re:SO WHAT (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090814)

It's not copyright infringement, but it is (unrepentant) financially-motivated plagiarism, which is far worse in my book.

Also Microsoft basically performed a software-based MITM between users and Google - IIRC they notify users about this in one of their EULAs, but Google might want to ask their lawyers about that.

Re:SO WHAT (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090528)

It makes no difference either way. Bing is a search engine. I don't care if all it did was run your query over to Google and search on it and return the results with its own front.

Welcome to the internet, whiners. Anyone ever use aggregate search engines before? Chill out.

Or you could enter the same query in google and get a faster result. Either way you get the same result.

Click Fraud (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090330)

I don't think it means what he thinks it means.

Ouch (-1)

maxrate (886773) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090342)

Just me, or is Google getting some (somewhat deserving) bad press lately on a number of things? I try and use Bing quite often (just to be different - same reason I won't buy an iPhone, but do own several Macs), but I find I get the results I'm after with Google more so. I find everyday search results with Bing to be meaningful and useful. I find I have a better time with Google when I'm searching for technical things. Considering Microsoft was very late to the game by taking web search seriously, I don't think they are doing too bad. Their map system/satellite view seems to be nicer than Googles - but slower. I doubt they will ever be the number one search engine, however it's nice to see someone else building a powerful system. Yahoo lost their touch years ago in my opinion.

Re:Ouch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090416)

I try and use Bing quite often (just to be different - same reason I won't buy an iPhone, but do own several Macs)

I have no interest in anything you have to say.

Re:Ouch (4, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090434)

Well Microsoft's response is sort of self-incriminating really. I mean the summary here basically paints their response as simple posturing and trying to get out of getting caught doing something they're not supposed to. "How dare you! We're better than them! We're smarter than they are! Those people are just trying to make us look bad! That's it, THEY'RE cheating! They're rigging tests and accusing us of things! They're trying to make US look bad because THEY know we're BETTER and it gets their pants all in a knot! Why would WE ever do something like that?!"

We have some of the best minds in the world... after Google, who invented some truly creative and innovative search methods, and then patented them. We have to find a completely different direction that works the same way, kind of, then improve on it.

Re:Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090590)

I'm not sure about this. It seems that Microsoft simply beat Google at their own game. The game Google is in is about advertising and data acquisition from users so it can do targeting, etc. Microsoft simply gathered data on searches (Google does the same; even more so if you are signed in). Microsoft used the data gathered on what users searched on to update their search results. They didn't go screen scrape anything from Google's servers. This seems like a good use of the data they collected - an attempt to return more relevant search result. If people are going to let them collect this stuff, they should probably use it in this way. Of course, I don't install the Bing spy toolbar or the Google spy toolbar. But if you do install it - why would you not want the data to go towards improving relevance of search? (In this case, they weighted "relevance" as "you clicked a link returned by this search from another search engine" so it "must" have been relevant to you).

Re:Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090480)

Smells like... astroturf.

Bing Travel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090770)

Bing Travel [bing.com] has an interesting feature for tracking airline fares. In the short term it's pretty accurate and helps in the timing of buying airline tickets. Although, sometimes it'll say "wait fares steady or decreasing" and fares jump the next day. If you're traveling, you have to check at least twice a day - morning and night - to get an idea of the fares. The graph is handy to get an idea of what airlines do. For the route I fly during the Holiday's, I know the sweet spot is the first week of November for buying tickets.

Of course, extraordinary situations bring extraordinary prices - like in 2008 when Delta was going bankrupt. Their prices didn't follow any of the rules - they kept going down and down.

Google and Microsoft, please... (0)

Itesh (1901146) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090348)

put away your e-peens. It's like reading a fan boy forum war over who would win in a fight, Superman or Goku...

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090398)

Since Goku isn't made of Kryptonite, I'm going to have to say Superman.

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090468)

Batman would win, he carries Kryptonite around in his belt.

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (0)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090492)

Goku can teleport himself to a place which has plenty of kriptonite and bring a huge chunk back. Superman is fast, but teleportation is instantaneous.

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (0)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090748)

In newer incarnations of Superman his is more or less invincible to physical attacks, but he is very vulnerable to magical attacks.

I suppose the question is are Goku's special attacks physical or are they more magical in nature?

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (0)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090422)

Clearly Superman would win.

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (0)

truk138 (1839364) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090660)

Phhhhttt yah but the Hulk would smash them all :P

Re:Google and Microsoft, please... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090622)

"What the flim-flam is a Goku? Get off my lawn you punks!", said Superman in a statement this morning.

Re: Microsoft Vehemently Denies... (3, Funny)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090356)

Microsoft says the truth: a search of "Microsoft copies Google" in both Bing and Google yields different results.

Bing Quality (?!?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090358)

Bing's search results are generally obtuse, mostly irrelevant and of exceedingly poor quality. Even Yahoo produces more cogent, relevant results. What a pathetic joke Microsoft and its "search engine" have become.

Re:Bing Quality (?!?) (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090520)

Its funny that you mention that, seeing as in the US and Canada yahoo search is powered by bing.

Re:Bing Quality (?!?) (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090588)

Bing's search results are generally obtuse, mostly irrelevant and of exceedingly poor quality. Even Yahoo produces more cogent, relevant results. What a pathetic joke Microsoft and its "search engine" have become.

You say that and I partly agree, but it can't be easy to index that quantity of web content and produce meaningful results. The fact that Microsoft can even begain to try, even with some cheating, is impressive.

I've been expecting something new from Yahoo for a few years now. I thought they might be working on something great. Maybe I'm wrong and they really can't keep up with google.

Re:Bing Quality (?!?) (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090600)

Yeah I've used Bing a few times, it doesn't seem much better than the shitty old MSN search. And their marketing was the very worst I have ever seen for anything. You want me to switch from a search engine to a "decision engine?" You want to give me *less* information? FUCK NO, I'll decide for myself.

Methinks he doth protest too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090362)

no text

Bing the next Yahoo? (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090378)

Following on the heels of Yahoo's great success - Microsoft has abandoned using their own search technology in favor of Google's.

GIFs at 11 (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090388)

Microsoft is shocked and indignant. How dare anybody suggest they might use any sort of underhanded tactics to compete with a rival?

yeah, right! (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090436)

And Taco Bell vehemently denies it's "taco smeat" is 77% ground up old circus animals.

Re:yeah, right! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090606)

That would mean there is more than 36% meat in their smeat.

Yes, yes they do deny it... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090638)

As that would put them well above the %40 meat mark that they are currently operating under (%37 according to a current report)

Of course they do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090446)

Microsoft Vehemently Denies Google's "Bing Sting" Well he has got to say that he cant admit to what is fact cus both his ass and his job are on the line , The MS method we cant do it so steal it and force our name on it ..

So the answer is yes (4, Insightful)

Trelane (16124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090484)

They do spy on (sorry, gather 'click stream' data from) IE users (through IE itself, or one of its add-ons). Read those EULAs veeery carefully, folks!

Somehow this extremely relevant part of the story keeps getting skipped over whenever it's being told.

The 'click fraud' accusation is hilarious and quite arguably libelous as fraud (and click fraud) is a real criminal act.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud [wikipedia.org]
"Click fraud is a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.

Use of a computer to commit this type of Internet fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions, for example, as covered by Penal code 502 in California, USA."
(also claimed to be a felony at http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/click-fraud.html [legalmatch.com] with claims of arrests.)

Re:So the answer is yes (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090556)

Exactly. The moral of this story is: if you use IE, then your information is being passed to Microsoft and being used. Even if you go to google.

They can say all they want about how it happened, but the fact is, it happened. They're getting results directly as a result of google returning them. There's no two ways about this. Its true, its a voluntary act of certain customers, but that doesn't change that Bing is utilizing Google's results.

Part of the nature of the internet is going to be that there will be feedback loops amongst page ranking, but this is a little too direct.

And yeah, everything that Microsoft said about Google's actions in response sounded like "nuh uh, you do!". Its pretty childish. Click fraud? Really? They just know they can throw out buzzwords like that and people who don't know any better will figure that google is just as guilty as MS. But Google has said that they do not track browsing history in this manner time and again.

We just really need to let people know how bad IE truly is.

Re:So the answer is yes (1)

arose (644256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090788)

Part of the nature of the internet is going to be that there will be feedback loops amongst page ranking, but this is a little too direct.

You could have said the same thing back when googlebombing was a common occurrence.

But Google has said that they do not track browsing history in this manner time and again.

Well, no. They just keep an unanonymized (not that I think the anonymization is effective) search history if you are logged into gmail and haven't opted out and track your surfing through their ad network and Google Analytics. So you are technically right, they don't do it in this manner.

Re:So the answer is yes (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090860)

it's not just IE, though it's the one currently involved. You need to read what your software vendor reserves the right to do, particularly in the realm of installing code without your knowledge or (further) consent and spying. It'll still be interesting to see the anti-Google Microsofties keep up the refrain of Google spies on you, so use Microsoft instead.

Re:So the answer is yes (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090870)

"The moral of this story is: if you use IE, then your information is being passed to Microsoft and being used. Even if you go to Google. "

I view this as a much more sinister part of the whole event. Whether or not IE is terrible at displaying pages is amusing, but except at that whole lock-in level, not worrisome. However if IE is actively siphoning off any kind of intelligent data, then it raises specters of worse data snooping breaches.

Not using Adblock is a crime? (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090868)

Click fraud is a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click
online advertising when a person clicks on an ad, for the purpose of
generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link. Use of a computer to commit this type of Internet fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions.

So, not using Adblock is a crime? I mean, I consider advertising an immoral practice and I have never purchased anything I saw in an ad, and would never do that in the future. Then if some obnoxious ad got through my defenses and tricked me into clicking on it, I'd be committing a felony? Man, that sure is pretty harsh. And here we have people bragging how they support sites by not blocking ads (under the assumption that they block ads everywhere else), while in reality they are nothing but criminals.

Remember kids, not blocking ads can be a crime! Your life would be ruined and spent in the pound-me-in-the-you-know-what federal penitentuary. Be safe! Surf smart! Use adblock!

"Period. Full stop". stop. over. out. (4, Funny)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090502)

If, he hasnt used 'period' and 'full stop' and created enough dramatic pause, i wouldnt have believed him.

but now, i believe him, despite bing has been caught red handed, denied it without showing ANY proof, and then went on to accuse google of something totally irrelevant.

Re:"Period. Full stop". stop. over. out. (3, Funny)

Wolvenhaven (1521217) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090758)

"We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop."

The original draft
"We do not copy results from any of our competitors..."

Re:"Period. Full stop". stop. over. out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090786)

I didn't believe him. Had he been wearing a William Shatner mask, then I might have believed him.

Re:"Period. Full stop". stop. over. out. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090824)

Didn't you know? The best way to stop being accused of something yourself is to accuse the accuser of something else that's even worse than what you did.

Best minds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090524)

We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance

Some of the best minds in the world??? Can't we ask them instead if they have any ideas about health, poverty or flying cars? It sounds like they're severely over-qualified to be working on a search engine.

Poor Google (1)

cyberfr0g (2812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090526)

This is happening for no other reason than Google is absolutely afraid of Bing providing more relevant search results to due massive SEO attacks against Google and a seemingly atrocious preference to content scrapers at the top of the results lists rather than content providers.

Google "openssh download"

Now, Bing it.

Bing wins.

Google fails. /i don't use bing, i love google, i want to continue loving google, they're making it harder and harder every day.

discussion over! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090534)

Period. Full stop.

Welp, they said 'Full stop.' That means there's no sense arguing because the argument is over. (what? slashdotters like to do this)

Re:discussion over! (2)

Raenex (947668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090822)

Welp, they said 'Full stop.' That means there's no sense arguing because the argument is over.

Look, I'm the Senior Vice President, Online Services Division. I did not copy from that search engine, Google. I never told anybody to copy, not a single time -- never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the Internetian people.

so what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090538)

Microsoft is using words that people search on Google and then sees links that people click from that Google search.

Google is using words that people associate with links, then uses those words to show links.

So, Google, shut the hell up.

Vehement non-denial. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090560)

He actually doesn't address why Google's search results were reappearing as Bing results, and focuses on only the synthetic queries in the sting, while Google pointed out real queries like "torsoraphy" were likely being served by Google results.

> What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know.

"Everyone knew we were extracting Google search results from our clickstream data and redisplaying them! So that's totally OK."

Like They Weren't Copying Apple with Windows? (2, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090562)

I can't think of a single thing Microsoft has done that was an original idea. Their entire business model seems to be "wait until someone establishes dominance in a marketplace, realize that marketplace could be profitable, put up a shitty copy of the dominant model and improve it just enough that people will use it because it's the default option leveraged with other Microsoft technologies." Well that and managing to install a tax on every computer built today. So yeah, this story is entirely plausible to me, and MIcrosoft will probably get away with it, too, despite those meddling kids.

Re:Like They Weren't Copying Apple with Windows? (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090692)

Even though your post is flamebait, isn't the market dominated by companies trying to "1-up" their competators? If that sort of competition didn't happen, who knows what our technology level would be right now.

Tell me one completely unique idea Google or Apple has had and I bet someone can provide "prior art" which Google and/or Apple simply improved on.

MS-BS as usual (3, Insightful)

oGMo (379) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090568)

This response is the usual BS handwaving from MS. There's a single paragraph which says essentially "er... they do click fraud!" without any real technical details or explanation. This is quite different from Google's posts, which are all very detailed about what they're doing and the results they're seeing. The rest of MS's article is marketing history ... not once is there real explanation of how they happen to have extremely obscure words pulling results for exactly what Google does. Just spin.

Thanks for trying, MS. You can't even come up with a technical response, and you want us to believe you can come up with a search engine?

Evidence and Explanation (5, Interesting)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090576)

Ok, I'm quite irked by this story, and I got modded troll a bunch of times by trying to point out that Google's experiment doesn't really support their accusation. I know some people will immediately label me a shill or apologist just for having a different opinion. What's stupid is I use Google search, and never Bing.

Anyways, the following is my understanding and some opinion. The secret knowledge of the search engine is the association of a search term and a result (usually a url). So to say that Bing is copying (I think 'cheating' might have the what was used, but copying is a lot of people's interpretation), implies they are acquiring Google's association data; conversely if the Bing search comes to the same result coincidentally, then they can't be 'cheating'. It wouldn't be that surprising if two search engines return same results for certain words. However, Google did their sting with fake terms... so obviously Bing is copying right?

So let's talk about their sting. They created (100?) honeypot search terms where a fake word would return a real link 'sss4yxyxy -> returns www.myresult.com'. Then they had 20 employees using IE and Bing toolbar w/ Google search and kept using these fake terms, then clicking the resulting link. Some time later, some of these fake terms return the same results on Bing.

A few things: Google employees opted into tracking w/ the Bing toolbar. (This is somewhat beside the point anyways, since Google isn't exactly in a position to point the finger about tracking.) Note that my understanding is that few of the (100?) honeypot terms actually worked on Bing.

The explanation from MS is that the Google employees gamed their user tracking mechanism to produce a result which makes it appear as if Bing is 'copying' Google. Basically they tracked the user search term, then the link they clicked through, and used this as part of the data for Bing. Google successfully gamed this because those terms are fake, and therefore the only data about them came from the sting.

So my opinion is that this isn't copying. If 100 of 100 honeypots showed up on Bing then that would support their accusation better. If their 20 employees only used Google normally from IE, without going through the toolbar, then that would strengthen the case. Without these, I have a hard time understanding how even the people at Google have rationalized their own accusation. Now maybe MS is lying and I'm a chump, but at least I'm taking the time to consider the evidence as presented.

Re:Evidence and Explanation (1)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090652)

Just want to add one thought experiment that hopefully illustrates my point:

Let's say Google did their same sting, but their employees always clicked the 5th result down instead of the top one. Then, if MS isn't lying, that could mean the 5th result shows up on Bing search. Consider that if these were real search terms, that would actually mean that Bing is providing the more useful result. So... how does a person copying provide a better answer deterministically if all that person is doing is copying?

Re:Evidence and Explanation (0, Flamebait)

jlusk4 (2831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090834)

MS is lying and you're a chump. (Sorry.)

(1) Both IE and the Bing toolbar are from MS. Doesn't matter whether they use one or the other; the directive at MS has come down from on high: use Google's results.

(2) The Google search results are only one input into MS's algorithm (they shouldn't be an input /at all/.) Of course all 100 honeypots won't show up. The fact that any did at all is incriminating, given that the data is completely synthetic.

What ended up in Windows 7 that was in OSX (0)

kaptink (699820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090578)

What *new features* ended up in Windows 7 that happend to already exist in OSX:

Jump lists: Dock menus
Aero Peek: Exposé
File previews
Gadgets: Widgets
Sticky Notes: Stickies
Saved searches: Smart folders
Network shares automatically appearing in left sidebar
RSS feeds
Windows Disc Image Burner: Disk Utility
Taskbar makeover: Dock look and feel

http://www.infoworld.com/d/mac/top-10-features-microsoft-stole-mac-os-x-971&current=2&last=11#slideshowTop [infoworld.com]

Re:What ended up in Windows 7 that was in OSX (1)

kaptink (699820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090586)

Oh and tabed browsing from Firefox in IE7?

MS is caught in a tangle of lies (3, Insightful)

thsths (31372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090598)

"We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop."

That is funny, because you have just been *caught* copying results from your competitor. Period. Full stop. No chance this was a coincidence.

Now you seem to think because you copy it from Google result page in the users browser, and not from Google directly, you are not copying Google. But clearly you are. The user is "authorised" to use Google search results, after all that is the whole point of the search engine. You are not.

And I think this attitude is a shame, because some of the technologies from MS are actually pretty decent. Just search engine technology does not seem to be among those.

Read my lips! (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090618)

When I hear these declarations, for some reason I also hear two echoes in my mind:

- "Read my lips, no more taxes"
- "I did not had sexual relations with that woman..."

Also,a president "didn't have sex with that woman" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090630)

It all depends on what your definition of "is" is, right? (Or "sex", or "copy", for that matter). What did you expect MS to say, "we done goofed, send in the lawyers?"

He agreed with Google. (1)

yakovlev (210738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090642)

Feigned outrage at "click fraud" aside, he agreed with Google.

In fact, he said Google was right on the money.

To be clear, they both agree on Microsoft's actions, but not on the meaning of it. Microsoft's use of anonymized click data meant that they observed the results that people were clicking on for these unusual searches. They also both agree that this is just one of many items Microsoft uses to determine relevance. Google even agrees that this isn't so much intentional copying, but an effect of the use of click data.

The Microsoft guy did give a little information on why the results improved so much at one time, which DOES somewhat soften the original cause for the accusation. In other words, our searches got better because we made them better, which is probably true.

Let's be clear: At NO POINT does the Microsoft guy deny the accusations. He confirms them.

Whether or not having your software notice what people are clicking on for your competitor's searches and considering that as an input to your search results constitutes copying their results is left to the reader.

Priming the pump (0)

MikeSlashSlash (977405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090644)

So Google submits suggestive results via the Bing Toolbar, and when those results surface in Bing Search, Bing is at fault?! Ingenius! No one will be able to see through that! If it weren't for those dang kids...

Pot calling kettle black (3, Interesting)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090650)

Google has a long history of aggregating data it "borrowed" from other sources. First google news where they used slugs from newspapers to populate their pages. Then google books in which they made books available despite the publishers protests. Why someone shouldn't be allowed to use googles data, when they themselves have built their entire fortune on borrowing others data, is hypocrisy.

Re:Pot calling kettle black (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090712)

In those cases they were the ones indexing the data, the reason this is different is because Bing was copying data that was already indexed by Google.

Re:Pot calling kettle black (2)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090836)

Please don't accuse my of trolling, but I somehow agree with parent here.

Moreover, apart from the fun of it, and I admit there's a lot to be made, is there an inherent reason to always condemn Microsoft and absolve Google and the rest? Both/all of them are for profit corporations and of course I don't buy the do-not-evil shit. At least, not 100%. My guess is that both companies tried their best to maximize the efficiency of their results with all means possible. No foul game here.

Enough already with all Microsoft-bashing at every possible moment. 2011 is not the 90s, I don't even think we should have a Bill-Gates-as-a-Borg story icon anymore. It's not relevant anymore. What about Apple and its walled garden? What about Google and its privacy woes? I didn't see Jobs and Page as Borgs images accompanying their stories...

PS. I use both engines (80% Google and 20% Bing). Love them both, both have their strengths and weaknesses. I don't think there's business ethics involved here, just trimming algorithms.

How can they deny it (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090738)

If gibberish words are turning up the same artificial results then clearly their toolbar is scraping results from the browser. How can they even deny it?

I suppose they should be glad Google just outed them rather than using this surreptitious sniffer to salt Bing's search results with a bunch of crap results.

MS = shameless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090754)

Microsoft is a synonym of "shameless" and this does not surprised me at all. I am happy that they got caught.

It was Opt-in (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35090800)

OK, here is how it works....You install the bing toolbar and opt-in to the program that says M$ can watch your search phrases and what you click. (Guess what...google did this and essentially said M$ could watch what they searched for and what they clicked)

Now you put some bogus search in to bing that gets no results, (i.e. the search has little relevant info already associated with it so there is no previous data inertia preventing easy manipulation of the bing ranking). Put the same search into google and get the honeypot page in the results and click on it.

Internally bing now has data that says your bogus search phrase has some association to the honeypot page. Since they had no associations for the bogus search phrase before, this one piece of data is now highly influential.

If google really wants to prove something....
1) do it on a box that they haven't opted-in to bing monitoring (maybe linux with chrome)
2) do it with an established search term that has large amounts of preexisting data
3) do searches on bing for bogus term and watch for those same bogus terms to show up in google searches (i.e. no click data, just google ranking farming)

My guess is google didn't actually think M$ was cheating, they were probably trying to do some competitive reverse engineering of bing's algorithms (no they don't want to copy bing but "knowing thy enemy" is never a bad strategy).

How to avoid "click frauding" Bing? (1)

tommis (1328303) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090812)

Perhaps Microsoft could be so kind to tell everyone how IE users can opt out of this tracking so we can all avoid "click frauding" Bing?

FWIW - Google's TOS are buried deeper than Bing's (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090858)

Google = About + Terms of Service

Bing = Legal

Maybe Bing doesn't go two levels deep? :-)

Want to ursurp Google, MS? (1)

weeboo0104 (644849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35090872)

Here's my observation based on use of both search engines:

MS doesn't copy Googles results. If they did, Bing would actually return useful results.

When I need to search Microsoft's Knowledge Base, I use Google. Bing returns useless info half of the time for me. When your competing search engine returns better results that your own, on your own website, you can't consider yourself having a useful search engine.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...