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Google Makes Its Search System Slightly More Transparent

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-a-gentle-touch-here-and-there dept.

Google 50

Meshach writes "The New York Times has an interesting article about how Google has revealed some of the inner workings of the Google Search service. The main change is that sites that are not in English will be translated then included in the search results. Google said it has also improved the way it recognizes official Web sites, like those published by the government, and will give those sites higher ranking in search results. Google does not usually reveal such details but the article speculates governments have been pushing for more transparancy."

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Summary (5, Informative)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052712)

From the summary:

The main change is that sites that are not in English will be translated then included in the search results.

From the article:

One of the new changes will affect searches in languages for which there is little Web content available, including Afrikaans, Hindi and Icelandic. Google will now translate relevant Web pages written in English and show those results, too.

Complete opposite direction. Go Slashdot!

Re:Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052780)

Is it really that hard to believe that their translation technology works both ways?

Re:Summary (2)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052814)

No, but it's hard to believe that a machine generated translation should be high (or even included) in the results, for languages where there is very little content though, it kind-of does.

Re:Summary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053020)

Why should it not?
Just pop a little message next to it saying "This search index was translated from [language]" in whatever target language it is.
Then if person opens it, auto-translate the site beforehand, or even ask if they wish to go to the site as it is, or translated.

Not exactly rocket science. If anyone takes offence to search results, personally I think they shouldn't even be allowed on computers, or even exist in society.
They are the ones who cause the most grief for everyone else. The single biggest source of fighting.
It's pretty damn pathetic.

Re:Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054818)

exactly, I was just cleaning out some old PCmags from back in the day and found "web lists" I do not know about you, but I do NOT want to go back to having a real book full of web links

Re:Summary (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056278)

Search is about finding and returning high-quality results. I don't want my first page to be polluted with confusing and hard to read results.

I'm skeptical that there is a good enough algorithm to determine translation quality, or even accuracy. I don't care the original language, I care about the quality, and if a search engine is giving me machine translated quality results, I will find a different search engine.

Well, look at which Slashdot "editor" posted it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053566)

Complete opposite direction. Go Slashdot!

No surprise. "timothy" is actually Tommy Chong, maaaaaan.

Re:Summary (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055386)

Don't be so hard on him. Even Google Translate (to Hindi, and back again) makes the same mistake. If Google can't write a good bot for this, what makes you think Slashdot can do any better.

Afrikaans is a language for which there is little web content, including Hindi, and will affect the discovery of new changes in Icelandic. Google translation of the relevant web pages will be written in English and to show those results, too.

Re:Summary (4, Insightful)

MPolo (129811) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056876)

They've actually been doing this for a while, and it is hurting my search experience. I prefer to read content in English, but I live in Germany, which means that if I want to buy something online, I want to buy it from a German (or at least European) company to avoid having to go in to the customs office to pay taxes on everything I buy (and so as to receive the products in 1-3 days instead of 2-4 weeks).

I used to be able to achieve this very easily by using the German name for what I needed, and if that name was the same as the English term, adding "kaufen" (buy) to the search. But with the translation technology, that means that I get all the first results in English, wanting to sell me products out of the U.S.A. I haven't found a really good way around this. Admittedly, I could change the settings for what language I want every time I do such a search, but that is a lot of trouble for me. If there were an option to turn this behavior off, I would do so.

Re:Summary (2, Insightful)

tr897 (1206300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056960)

Have you tried using instead of I expect would give priority to German shops, especially if you search in German.

Re:Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38064276)

Have you tried their shopping search, it does a pretty good job of picking sites selling in the UK when used from, has it too, so you should be able to use it for finding stuff sold by German companies.

What! (0)

mikeken (907710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052726)

You mean to tell me, my clients may now have lower rankings to some stupid government website! This is horse shit!

Re:What! (5, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052754)

Maybe if your clients actually did their jobs they could have a higher rank. The government gets it done so they deserve more exposure!

Re:What! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052808)

lol @ government doing its job.

Re:What! (-1, Offtopic)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053432)

While the government may "get the job done" as you say, I really think it is merely a matter of having the biggest budget to throw at a problem and getting the worst possible job done. Not saying that it is like this in every single case, but a lot of the time when I look at large government projects, they are bloated badly, implemented poorly and there are many obvious improvements possible that could have saved money or made a better solution - had the right person been there to say "Yes" or "No" rather than a "Project Manager" who knows how to use visio and project manager.

While I am in Sydney, here are two comparable examples: The M7 is a four to six lane motorway [] that was built completely from scratch. It is around 40 kilometers long (25 miles?). This included around 90 bridges so as to not interrupt current roads (The road sometimes goes over existing roads, other times, bridges were built over the motorway). The road was built in three years, came in six months ahead of schedule and cost around $1.8 billion.

Now, another major road project is the F5 widening [] . The project started in 2005 and is still running. While I have searched for a total cost, I can only find the cost of the current stage, which has cost $138 million to widen a single section of this project.

A private contractor could have done this much quicker (just ask anyone living in south western Sydney) and better and probably for a lot less money. While a government may "get it done" it's not the best or cheapest option the vast majority of the time.

Re:What! (1)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052772)

That has been the case for years. It's also why government sites tend to get so much seo spam and hacking attempts. Google supposedly devalued it after governments started complaining about it.

Re:What! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052784)

It isn't Google's fault your clients chose a poor SEO consuntant.

Re:What! (1)

mikeken (907710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052886)

Hey now, lets not be rude.

Re:What! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053178)

More like, aside from basic best practices, SEO is a degenerate trade to begin with.

The whole concept revolves around gaming a system we'd all prefer worked properly.

Nope. It's worse than that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053360)

You mean to tell me, my clients may now have lower rankings to some stupid government website! This is horse shit!

Don't worry, it's actually worse than that. The change to "official pages" isn't limited to government pages. It's for all sites.

So if you have a review website or actually sell the product in question, your site will be hidden in favor of the "official" websites. You know, the sites that are essentially large Flash advertisements for the product, without any useful information.

Review sites, comparison sites, basically any site with useful information, on the other hand, will be relegated to page 2.

So don't worry about government websites ranking higher than your site (although searching for "tax" within the US brings up the IRS above tax preparation services), worry about not being able to sell the product in question because searching for it will bring up nothing but websites from the manufacturer and nothing useful like reviewers or resellers.

Re:Nope. It's worse than that. (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38057260)

To be honest, a huge proportion of "review" sites in Google searches are not review sites at all, but online retailers that have managed to get their site indexed as a review site.

Just search for "productname review" and see what you get. In most cases you can skip the first 2-5 pages, since all results will be online sellers selling productname, with questionable "reviews" attached to the items. Reviews probably written by employees of the online seller.

Why not give the manufacturer of productname better ranking in the results? Not all companies are just putting up advertising... they usually have useful information there as well, support options, updates and downloads, etc. I make it a point to not download updates from non-official sites anyway, how do you know the file is not tampered with? However, I can place more trust in a file downloaded from the manufacturer's site.

Re:What! (5, Interesting)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053466)

I feel so bad that you as an SEO guy are going to look bad.
Really I do.
I am not even giving a thought as to how most SEO is out there to ruin a perfectly good internet and I am also not taking into account
how on normal days I believe that people in the SEO field are complete scumbags.
You know, the kind of people that should be put out to sea in a small boat that is on fire.
SEO consultants, lawyers, spammers, politicians and union organizers.

Because of my ability to overlook all of that ... I feel really bad for you.

Re:What! (1)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053974)

Yeah, because it is obviously really bad to help companies make their websites work better for both robots and human visitors.

Re:What! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054200)

No they do not.
What they do only needs to be done because of the shit they pulled earlier.

In the beginning Google could search.
Then came SEO.
Then came changes to the algorithm to make search work again.
Then came more SEOs.
More changes.
More SEO.
Now everything is a cluster fuck.
And it is the fault of those who originally sought to appear as if they had what you were looking for.

I shall say it more plainly this time.

Fuck SEO.

Re:What! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054236)

Best practices are best practices. SEO is a scumbag's attempt to game the system so you rank higher than your neighbor, regardless of more objective relevance metrics.

tracking (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052860)

Is google still logging all my searches? If so, then sorry - it's back to duckduckgo I go.

Re:tracking (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052904)

That is a privacy setting you can turn on or off.

If you turn the tracking off- then offically* they are no longer tracking you.

* Disclaimer, they are probably still unofficially tracking you.

Re:tracking (1)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052966)

That "search history" setting only hides the search history from you. They still log all that data.

Re:tracking (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053380)

Probably because thats been their business model for about a decade now?

Personally, Im more suspicious or wary of a service who does not seem to have a business model. How do you know DDG isnt logging your info? How do they fund their operations, if they dont get advertising revenue and its free?

At least Google is transparent about what they collect (and why), I have some reasonable expectation that theyre being truthful (due to their high visibility), and I can expect that their doors will still be open in a year (because they have a viable business model).

Re:tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054036)

From Gabriel:

"Currently we're just making money on affiliate sales to amazon and ebay. We may do an ad or two, but in a minimal way and in a way that protects privacy."

Re:tracking (2)

yahwotqa (817672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054864)

I do not care about the tracking itself, but I do care about the "search bubble" they create by trying to customize search results based on my past searches. Already I am getting better results at DDG for most technical, as well as non-technical queries, and I only get back to google (via awesome for image searches or quick translations.

Government Transparency (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052870)

the article speculates governments have been pushing for more transparancy

Governments have been pushing Google for more transparency?? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Re:Government Transparency (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053188)

Actually, what they said was, "We can see your nipples through your blouse". But Google Translate came out with the "pushing for more transparency" line.

for google, a great side show (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052876)

transparent search is fine, now what the Chrome browser is collecting, which LIRC is more secretive (and hides behind 'trade secrets') has the more valuable information to google.

Re:for google, a great side show (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053414)

What information is the Chrome browser collecting that IE9 with google suggestions doesnt collect? Or that other browser's malicious page detection, or translation services dont collect?

As for "more secretive",...
Wrench -->Options --> under the hood. Uncheck the top several checkboxes, and turn off anything which offers a cloud-based service (cloud print). Grats, all of those "secretive" tracking features are now disabled.

SEO marketers will parter with goverments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052932)

Can't wait for in debt state goverments to pimp out thier websites to SEO marketers.

Special Slashdot Memo e72c504dc16c8fcd2fe8c74bb492 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053032)

You wrote:

"governments have been pushing for more transparancy."

For whom?

Yours In Minsk,
K. Trout

The real question (2)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053048)

Does anyone have a choice in accepting or rejecting what Google does to their search engine? Businesses and Individuals are so dependent on its services, search being the primary one, everyone will just "get on with it", instead of looking into details.

Re:The real question (1)

babywhiz (781786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053868)

I sometimes miss the days when I could use Google to find all kinds of neat stuff, user generated silliness. I sometimes miss the Google of 1999. I do like the fact that it knows all about WoW search terms, and puts them at the thing I complained about a lack of back when The Sims was the game of the moment. Of course, back in 1999, I complained about the lack of finding places to shop. Of course, sometimes, it's not a lot better...take the search terms "diet mt dew delivery". I get the 'rankup' promotion of the moment, and for whatever reason Mazzio's 50th. The first result is BeverageUniverse, and Drsoda. The 3rd result is the Wikipeida entry...and from what I can tell, there isn't anything on the Wiki page that tells me exactly where I can purchase Diet why is it even in the result? Oh I see, cause I chose 'Everything'. So I click Shopping. I am met with and ad at the top. Everything else is Die Cast vehicles. I just want to know how I can purchase cases of Diet Mountain Dew and have them delivered to my door. No, I don't want to go thru Amazon, have you SEEN those prices per case? $19.99 a case-$31.58 a case. Even 3 cases for $36.00 is too freaking expensive.

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054486)

Just about everything you buy online is delivered to your door. There's no reason to include "delivery" in your search and you get better results without it (but only on the Shopping section).

Re:The real question (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055240)

Yeah, that's ridiculously expensive. If you have several grocery stores around you, simply look in the weekly ads. It seems like ALMOST every week, one of the stores has Coke and/or Pepsi products on sale, for $1 per 2 liter or $3 per 12 pack, if not lower.

Stock up, and you'll never have to pay "regular" price for soda, even if you only buy name brand. (For some of the flavored versions, e.g. diet vanilla, I've never seen generic versions.)

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053952)


Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054070)

Just use a different search engine. It isn't like google is the only one out there.

I've found others that I actually prefer. Look around, think for yourself, don't just follow the herd.

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054324)

duck duck go comes to mind righ off the top off my head

Re:The real question (1)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055400)

duck duck go is amazing; it's what I use exclusively.

Government != Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053110)

I don't believe anything the government tells me except simple facts that I can (and do) verify from sources I trust.

Banks too big to fail, my ass! WMDs? Exactly what WMDs?

Oh good (5, Interesting)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054762)

Does this mean they'll be bringing the + operator back some time soon? /wishful thinking

location based results (1)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055394)

"The main change is that sites that are not in English will be translated then included in the search results." Was this really a problem after Google made location-based searches MANDATORY? [] [] I use

Unnesserery, stupid, bad translations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38076966)

Web surfers that can read Afrikaans, Hindi and Icelandic, can also read English well (at least something like 95% of the adult web surfers and perhaps 60% of the children, likely even more of the Icelandic and Hindi readers). Adult Icelanders can usually read several other European languages, and Indians reads several Indian and Pakistani languages

As we all know (well, all of us that read at least one of the majority of languages that Google Translate translates to or from badly, those who translate only between English, French and German is not as effected by this), Googles translations is always really fucking terribly horribly inaccurate (except between English, German and French). The mistransaltions rank from amusing, to confusing and up to really dangerously plain wrong (Google Translate have serious trouble with negations, as well as in who is the receiver and performer of an action, in other worlds, translations that sound something like "the car drove the driver, until it had to stop because the tank was full" is very common, but usually not that obviously incorrect).

Why would Google torture those people with these horrible translations? Isn't it enough that all of Googles web-pages, now is delivered in an almost incomprehensible gibberish, that is claimed to be the visitors native tounge.

Disclaimer: I don't read Hindi at all, and are not good enough in Icelandic or Afrikaans to judge if a text delivered in them is well written (from a purely esthetic point of view, translations made by Google to English (from most languages "supported" by Google Translate) usually read reasonably well, but is almost always totally inaccurate) to or from those languages, but I understand them good enough to know when Google translate make inaccurate translations.

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