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Suing Google Over Pagerank

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the this-can't-be-the-first-time dept.

427

Yardboy wrote in to tell us about a story from Reuters describing a lawsuit by parental advice company Kinderstart.com against Google for 'charging it unfairly deprived the company of customers by downgrading its search-result ranking without reason or warning.' Kinderssart claims Google is responsible for 'a "cataclysmic" 70 percent fall in its audience -- and a resulting 80 percent decline in revenue.' I guess the courts will now decide: Can google taketh what they giveth?

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fp (1, Interesting)

mrowton (828923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951952)

They aren't suing because of bad rankings. They are suing because Google wont say why it ranks some sites hight and bans other sites. There is more merit in this case than most would think.

Re:fp (5, Insightful)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951962)

How so? What does a private company owe someone who simply wants to be ranked high?

If they want to be shown they should pay for advertising. My lastname.com is on page 3 if I search for mylastname. So should I sue google? Maybe I should "advertise" since that is how they exist.

I hate bullshit like this, if you base your business model on a high google ranking you should do what others are to maintain it. Salma Hayek pics are hard to find since those site purveyors have the first 1000 links or so going to some scam *nude stars* sites. lol... maybe that is what i wanted after all ;)

Re:fp (5, Insightful)

$1uck (710826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951974)

"The complaint accuses Google, as the dominant provider of Web searches, of violating KinderStart's constitutional right to free speech by blocking search engine results showing Web site content and other communications"
This is a bullshit suit. I'm sorry you don't have a constitutional right to have your message/voice broadcast/printed/served/displayed by others.

Re:fp (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952029)

I'm always disappointed when somebody refers to the right to free speech without knowing what it really means...

Congress shall make no law ... restricting free speech ... (from memory, may be inaccurate).

The Bill of Rights only restricts the government. It has no influence on any other entity.

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952091)

You do realize that you're agreeing with the grandparent, right?

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952178)

You do realize that you're agreeing with the grandparent, right?

You do realize that you can post without arguing, right?

Re:fp (3, Insightful)

nkh (750837) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951977)

And Microsoft won't say how their operating system works, I'll sue Bill Gates and demand the source code. Anyway, KinderStart seems to be another linkfarm, that's why they are ranked so low.

Re:fp (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951981)

Google doesn't have tell anyone why they rank anyone the way they do. It's search engine that essentially rates websites based on content or links to the site from others.

I would consider Google one of many food critics in a town of restaurants... you can't sue because you got a poor rating - suck it up, improve your site, and try again.

I fear they're trying to drum up traffic anyway they can because their site sucks. If google doesn't return the sites people want - they will and do use other search engines. So far, it seems they have a pretty good handle on returning relevant results to people's searches.

Has anyone investigated where this kinderstart.com site has ranked on other search engines? Or is it just because Google is the most popular search engine this second that they want to sue (or is it because Google has the most cash on hand?)

Re:fp (0)

SierraPete (834755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952107)

Cash on hand. It's gotta be.

It is a straight up BS suit. If they want to always be on the first page of the rankings, they should pay the money to get the space on the right hand column. Otherwise they have no inherent right to be anywhere on Google's site. Hell, Google should sue them for bringing an annoyance lawsuit.

Give me a break (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951988)

The complaint accuses Google, as the dominant provider of Web searches, of violating KinderStart's constitutional right to free speech by blocking search engine results showing Web site content and other communications.

Google is a private company. It has no obligation to endorse Kinderstart's company than any others.

Like I have said before, the constituion gives you a right to freedom of speech, it does not guarentee you an audience. Saying Google should be forced to index Kinderstart *at all*, let alone that it should enfoce some ranking formula, would be akin to saying that a library should be forced to hold a certain book, or that a televsion station be forced to air a certain show.

Don't like the shows on a network? Change the channel. Don't like the results Google provides? Use another engine. It's not like they have a monopoly on web searching.

Re:fp (5, Interesting)

wass (72082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951996)

They are suing because Google wont say why it ranks some sites hight and bans other sites. There is more merit in this case than most would think.

If Google opened its pagerank, then the order of search results would be the cleverness of the webmasters to craft their webpage to exploit Google's methods, instead of actual relevence to the search involved. You'd prefer that situation? Google would effectively denigrate into a giant billboard, and you'd then have to search through dozens of useless 'advertising' false links to get to the information you really want.

Re:fp (3, Interesting)

mrowton (828923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952040)

I'm not saying realease the algorithms they use, just reply to an e-mail and say "You have been banned from google search because you have violated our guidelines (insert vague reasons here)"

"Google does not generally inform Web sites that they have been penalized nor does it explain in detail why the Web site was penalized,"

Sometimes they do [slashdot.org] and sometimes then dont [slashdot.org]

Re:fp (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952095)

Why should that even matter? Want to improve your Google ranking? Pay for some advertisements. Othwerise, you have no right to complain when they remove your crappy index-polluting site from their search engine.

Re:fp (-1, Troll)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952104)

Easier to say "You have been banned because you offer nothing of value."

the site sucks. Also, parts are hosted off their home DSL line. Check out the odd port in this url:

ahref=http://www.kinderstart.com:8080/kindertoday/ addPostingFormrel=url2html-26977 [slashdot.org] http://www.kinders tart.com:8080/kindertoday/addPostingForm>

In case you missed it, I'll bold it in the plaintext ...

http://www.kinderstart.com/ [kinderstart.com] :8080/kindertoday/addPostingForm

In other words, he's hosting the static pages on his account with his ISP, and any dynamic content off his home machine.

Why not "help" him - do a

`wget http://www.kinderstart.com/ [kinderstart.com] :8080/kindertoday/addPostingForm`
a couple thousand times.

... or his home machine's default index page: http://www.kinderstart.com:8080/ [kinderstart.com]

Re:fp (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952185)

What makes you think port 8080 automatically points to a home machine? That's a fairly common port for various server software to bind.

Also, the 'Preview' button would have been a huge friend to you that time around.

One last thing - encouraging an ad-hoc DDOS is a dick move. Do you really want to be a dick?

Re:fp (1)

atomm1024 (570507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952261)

In other words, he's hosting the static pages on his account with his ISP, and any dynamic content off his home machine.
% dig kinderstart.com

; <<>> DiG 9.2.2 <<>> kinderstart.com
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 52374
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;kinderstart.com. IN A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
kinderstart.com. 38383 IN A 216.193.251.130

;; Query time: 6 msec
;; SERVER: 64.209.120.70#53(64.209.120.70)
;; WHEN: Sun Mar 19 11:33:59 2006
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 49

% whois 216.193.251.130
Mzima Networks, Inc. NETBLK-MZIMA-02 (NET-216-193-192-0-1)
216.193.192.0 - 216.193.255.255
Corporate Colocation MZIMA02-CUST-CORPCOLO05 (NET-216-193-251-0-1)
216.193.251.0 - 216.193.251.255
KinderStart.Com, LLC CORPCOLO-NET-216-193-251-128-27 (NET-216-193-251-128-1)
216.193.251.128 - 216.193.251.159

# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2006-03-18 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.
So, no.

Re:fp (2, Insightful)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952009)

There is none whatsoever.
  If I say "I recommend these sites: " and then I remove one from my list, am I obliged to *explain* myself?
  I am not, no more than anyone is obliged to listen to me.
  In general, I think corporations *should* be answerable for the broader consequences of their business motivated decisions (even though, as a matter of law, they generally are not). However, in this case, that is absolute hogwash.
  They should be free to make whatever recommendations they want. If they are good recommendations, people will tend to listen to them.
  I am not concerned with the intrinsic rights of Google to do page rank however they want. I am concerned with the intrinsic rights of individuals to get whatever page rank google decides to give them - if they decide that what they want is google's page rank. They are not answerable to anyone about what information they choose to provide, or why - in the same way that the New York Times is not.

Re:fp (1)

deadlinegrunt (520160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952031)

Seems like the case would have merit if Google picked at random that this business was unjustly targetted for punishment, failure to pay an extortion fee for rankings, etc. A more realistic scenario is that this company probably tried to do something to unfairly get its pages ranked higher, which does happen and Google will not deny that when an entity is caught there are consequences. It probably isn't too strange a coincedence that this comes at a time when Google is being plastered all over the headlines (Federal Judge denies Google hand over keywords, etc) this company thought it might be slick, found out it wasn't.

Basic behavior you're taught in kindergarten - play nice with others or get punished.

Re:fp (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952034)

They are suing because Google wont say why it ranks some sites hight and bans other sites.

SearchKing sued Google over the same thing a couple of years ago [slashdot.org] , and lost the suit. [slashdot.org] The judge's comment was:
The court simply finds there is no conceivable way to prove that the relative significance assigned to a given Web site is false.

KinderStart will lose. Case closed.

Re:fp (1)

schroet (244506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952215)

Yeah I thought this sounded somewhat familiar. I just wasn't sure how that case had turned out. Thanks for reminding me ;-)

Searchking lol.

Re:fp (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952035)

They aren't suing because of bad rankings. They are suing because Google wont say why it ranks some sites hight and bans other sites. There is more merit in this case than most would think.

Google chooses not to reveal its pagerank algorithms precisely to prevent the kind of link-bombing in which Kinderstart was almost certainly engaged. And why should they? This is one of the few cases where "security through obscurity" kinda works -- unlike with, say, encryption algorithms, which depend for security on a secret number, and which generally get stronger when they're open for public scrutiny, the security of Google's page rankings depends on the secrecy of the algorithm itself. They have no obligation to reveal their algorithm to Kinderstart or anyone else.

Now, as a generally pro-F/OSS guy, I personally think it would be great if Google came up with "public key pagerank" -- i.e., a pagerank algorithm that could be released as open source without compromising its effectiveness for a specific application -- but apparently that hasn't happened yet.

If anyone has a case here, it's Google; they could sue Kinderstart and everyone else who tries to manipulate the rankings, and probably under the DMCA they could press criminal charges as well. They don't, for two reasons: it would interfere with the warm'n'fuzzy "don't be evil" vibe they're still trying to project, and it would be a waste of time and money, in that they'd probably spend a lot more trying to track down the thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? millions?) of sites that try to do this crap than they would collect in damages. But personally I hope they turn around and grind Kinderstart.com into the dust.

BTW, the first search result that comes up on Google when you search for "Kinderstart" now is this [kinderstart.co.uk] , which seems like a legitimate business rather than a badly designed wannabe portal. How is this a bad thing?

Re:fp (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952087)

This is one of the few cases where "security through obscurity" kinda works...the security of Google's page rankings depends on the secrecy of the algorithm itself. They have no obligation to reveal their algorithm to Kinderstart or anyone else.

Google's PageRank is no more protected by security through obscurity than anything else -- The exact same problem applies: While it superficially stops the casual exploiter from gaming the system, it's hardly rocket science to setup cases of various scenarios and derive exactly what they're doing behind the scenes (which is exactly what SEOs do). Furthermore you can be sure that there are current and former Google employees/interns that have sold the big secret. Something like that is impossible to keep secret.

For all we know Google could add a 50% bonus to sites that host AdSense ads [yafla.com] .

Re:fp (1)

masklinn (823351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952114)

it's hardly rocket science to setup cases of various scenarios and derive exactly what they're doing behind the scenes

This is completely false. What SEO guys have managed to do is come up with advices and rough, very rought knowledge of what goes behind the scenes.

Deriving exactly what happens behind the scene would mean managing to reconstruct the Pagerank algorithm -- which hasn't happened yet -- and be able to reliably generate PR10 pages -- which hasn't happened either.

Re:fp (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952137)

This is completely false.

Says you.

Deriving exactly what happens behind the scene would mean managing to reconstruct the Pagerank algorithm -- which hasn't happened yet -- and be able to reliably generate PR10 pages -- which hasn't happened either.

Just because the information is known doesn't mean that the exploiters have the means necessary to exploit it. Just because you have the schematics necessary for a nuclear bomb doesn't mean that you have the supplies, tools, and expertise to build one.

Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (5, Funny)

NeonRonin (763614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951956)

Kinderstart, realizing their website sucks, announces a lawsuit against Google for a detrimental impact to their website traffic. Website activity jumps 3000% on the news, mainly from a nerd news site reporting the lawsuit. Slashdot is credited with a 120% increase in revenue for nerds that now know how to raise their kids.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (5, Informative)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952001)

For the lazy, the link to the website whose design truely sucks. [kinderstart.com]

If I wanted to find some information on what they do it would be tough navigating through that. Good website design skills: provide information as quickly as possible, seem to have been misplaced.

But they don't really do anything, other than linking other sites. They're a link site, plain and simple. Probably harvesting click through revenue and add little value to the internet. And on a wild guess here, since a year ago, using the same search parameters, I have had many less 'link sites' coming up in Google searches which I see as only a good thing. Ironically they may well find the sites they link to through Google.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952053)

Anyone else find it funny they're running Google Ads? THAT's why they're pissed off ... 80% decline in ad revenue from google.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (5, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952291)

But they don't really do anything, other than linking other sites.

It looks like one of those sites you get when you mispell the name of a website and you end up with some random search. If I hadn't gone there from slashdot, I would have quickly hit the back button for fear of spyware.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952003)

In related news.... CmdrTaco Sues Kindersstart for a share of their revenue as a result of increased traffic.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952041)

... and Kinderstart sues slashdot a week later ...

"We have a right to know how stories get to the front page on slashdot. Why aren't we getting the benefit of dupe stories like everyone else?

In retaliation, slashdot "mis-links" a "story" mis-titled "SCO Files for Bankruptcy" to Kinderstart and Kinderstarts' resultant server bandwidth overcharges put them out of business.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (5, Funny)

Pizaz (594643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952050)

SAN FRANCISCO, March 21 (Reuters Future News Service) - A parental advice Internet site Kinderstart.com has sued Open Source Technolgoy Group (OSTG) owners of the popular internet news site Slashdot.org, charging it unfairly deprived the company of customers by not perptually running stories about it. An attorney at the law firm of Slippe, Falle & Sioux whom are representing Kinderstart.com commented that "It's unfair to give that kind of free publicity one day, and then take it away the next. Frankly, any company with that much power make's me salivate."

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952083)

SAN FRANCISCO, March 22 (Reuters Future News Service) - A saintly holier than though Internet site sco.com has sued the owners of unpopular internet site kinderstart.com, charging it with breaking its copyright on perpetual stories. An attorney at the law firm of fuch, mie and wypme raw commented that "It's unfair to give that kind of free publicity one day, and then take it away the next. Frankly, any company with that much power make's me moist."

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952086)

Indeed. I'm reloading them every 5 seconds in a tab (along with various other annoying websites).

I haven't read their homepage, though...

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952198)

tomorrow: kinderstart sues slashdot for giving them so much publicity one day and none the next, without any warning.

Re:Well, they are spammed with traffic now... (1)

Main Gauche (881147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952259)

"Slashdot is credited with a 120% increase in revenue for nerds that now know how to raise their kids."

Using a combination of Slashdot demographics and basic math, I conclude that, before this story, they had 5 customers.

sorry (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14951961)

Can google taketh what they giveth?

Sorry, but that's just wrong. I know you're trying to sound cute and all, but even Shakespeare would say "Can google take what they give?"

it's... (2, Funny)

davids_xls (888798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951965)

those pigeons, sue them!!!

So which is it... (5, Insightful)

$1uck (710826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951966)

From TFA:
"aggressively defends the secrecy of its patented search ranking system"
Is it patented or secret? I mean it can't be both.

Re:So which is it... (4, Informative)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952066)

It's likely that the patent covers the general pagerank algorithm (or even just the idea of ranking sites based on how many other sites link to them, and their respective ranks, etc), without the actual parameters or tweaks (eg. if you have been linked from warez sites you take a penalty). It's very likely that Google tweaks the ranking system from time to time, or even rewrites the code for it (who knows? ;-) and those tweaks won't show up in the (original) pagerank patent.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

Cite "bad neighborhood" DoS? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952093)

without the actual parameters or tweaks (eg. if you have been linked from warez sites you take a penalty).

Does Google actually use this rule to compute ranking? It seems that the warez community could perform a DoS on a major publisher of proprietary software merely by linking to its website.

Re:Cite "bad neighborhood" DoS? (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952109)

Does Google actually use this rule to compute ranking? It seems that the warez community could perform a DoS on a major publisher of proprietary software merely by linking to its website.

I've wondered the same thing about the purported "negative" influences of Google's rankings. I've found some spammer sites linking to my site, calling it a "related site". I have no idea what they're doing, but it'd be pretty dumb if Google penalized me because of it. Perhaps they've figured out that Google does reverse attribution as well (e.g. A links to B, so therefore A gets attributed with some of B's content).

Re:Cite "bad neighborhood" DoS? (1)

SeeMyNuts! (955740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952303)


Google can be a tricky beast for businesses. However, most of the important things about Google are very widely known, which means the company in the article didn't know much about running a website! In a couple of websites I've set up over the years, many of the common SEO techniques do tend to work, but it is really easy to run into things like "link spamming" penalties (in my opinion). To be completely honest, Google themselves give the best SEO advice on their website (content, content, content, some links, etc.).

Perhaps the website in the article had no content? I haven't the courage to really visit them.

Re:So which is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952170)

It's likely that..

It's very likely that...

IOW, you're just making stuff up. Cool.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

How does this matter? Your whole post is bullshit anyway.

Re:So which is it... (1)

Stalus (646102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952112)

Depends on how you interpret it. Google started as an academic publication [stanford.edu] , which is public. The system has certainly grown and changed since then, and improved, and much of that is secret. However, some generalizations of what they do, and particular pieces are patented [com.com] . I believe this statement is saying that the general system is patented, but many of the scoring details, which is what's relevant in the case, are secret. So... yes, it can be both - you don't have to patent full systems and every detail. And you can also improve upon a patented system and keep those parts secret.

A little of both (5, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952125)

The PageRank algorithm is patented (patent 6,285,999 [uspto.gov] ) and public.

But Google's results are much more than page rank. It also involves other algorithms relating to the search keys for a particular search. And there are tuning factors to the particular PageRank implementation. Google's proprietary tweaks keep ahead of the people who try to artificially inflate their page rank (like, apparently, these guys). Those are secret, and search engine optimizers would dearly love to know them so that they could fake out Google.

PageRank (2, Informative)

deblau (68023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952249)

Read U.S. Pat. No. 6,526,440 [uspto.gov] . Seriously, it's quite informative.

They are just a search engine? (5, Informative)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951969)

They have been astroturfing all over the place and I don't see any actual content pages.

They advertise themselves as a search engine.
Google still indexes over 25000 pages by them, and from my initial examination, theres no content.
They appear to be just a linkfarm

Google aren't wrong, this kind of thing is what we have been asking them to do for ages (clear out the crap)

They seem to have articles too (4, Informative)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952175)

http://www.kinderstart.com:8080/kindertoday/114264 8153 [kinderstart.com]

The funny thing is, it looks like they are using slash!

Re:They seem to have articles too (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952258)

Oh that's rich.
Look out for the slashcode trolls (hope they're running the latest and greatest).
-nB

Uh... Google can do whatever it wants... (4, Insightful)

dteichman2 (841599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951970)

Google is a private company with a private database. They have no obligation to rank any site equally, or even at all! In fact, Google could arbitrarily decide that some company was "bad" and simply remove them from their database. Kinderstart has no case, not even with their fractured English. Google is a corporation, not a public service, even though they seem like it on occasion.

mod parent up (0, Redundant)

AWhiteFlame (928642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951990)

took the words right out of my mouth

Re:mod parent up (0, Offtopic)

gimplar (913105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952155)

Exactly! And Microsoft is a private company, they can choose to break compatability between any application and their OS if they so choose!

Re:Uh... Google can do whatever it wants... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952135)

And let's consider any company which totally really on another private company's system without paying anything to promote and have incomes being insane! I simply believe that Kinderstart is asking for a due which does not belong to them.

Re:Uh... Google can do whatever it wants... (3, Insightful)

Baseball_Fan (959550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952211)

Google is a private company with a private database. They have no obligation to rank any site equally, or even at all! In fact, Google could arbitrarily decide that some company was "bad" and simply remove them from their database. Kinderstart has no case, not even with their fractured English. Google is a corporation, not a public service, even though they seem like it on occasion.

I agree. If the courts say there must be a "fair" system to decide pagerank, then who decides? Do we want Google and Yahoo to return the same results?

If one of the search engines does not work, then don't use it. That's why I don't use google very often anymore. If I want to search for homes in an area, I don't get real estate offices in that area, I get too many pages of fake-mls pages that just want to advertise a different site. What good is it getting 1000 results, with the 10 or 20 good ones burried?

Googles pagerank algorithm does not work, I don't think any algorithm can work. It is too easy to manipulate. What we will need is a open source project, with people adding websites to an index. Maybe that will work, maybe it wont like Amazon where a few people can spam the scoring system.

Perhaps the real problem is the growth in the internet. Before google, even before yahoo, when I was using webcrawler, I would get very good search results. Most came from universities or private websites from people interested in their hobby or topic. Today, the best websites I find come by word of mouth, a friend saying check this out.

Re:Uh... Google can do whatever it wants... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952214)

Some think that google has done what you suggest: censor pages. Unfortunately, this results in the censoring of political thought. Yes, it's a private company but also a company that enjoys the grant of limited liability by the government. Google is suppose to be a search engine, not a censorship engine (and the pages I refer to are in the US!).

Everyone wants to say that MS is evil because they kept down other operating systems. Will people call Google evil when they actively keep certain political thought down?

Not quite frivolous, but... (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951971)

Anyone that depends on an external party for their marketing had better get it in writing. No contract? Tough luck.

You get what you pay for, if you're lucky.

Why? (4, Insightful)

Parham (892904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951975)

Why does this website think it can sue a company for a service it is providing them for free?

Furthermore, pagerank is explained here [iprcom.com] and here [google.com] . Finally, if 70% of their audience and 80% of their revenue SOLELY relies on Google, then they need to change the way they advertise their site and profit from it. Looking at their site, they look just like a plain directory of links; they probably make money from advertising.

Re:Why? (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952014)

They charge $5/month to have your site listed on their website...

Sounds like pre-dotcom-bubble-bursting business model is showing its age. And they want to hit the biggest pocket first.

Frankly the site isn't all that - I don't think I agree with their rankings or content. If pagerank decided that they're not worthy of the rating, so be it...

I hate to mention it - but there is >some truth to search engine optimization methods, however from the details of the story - it sounds like Kinderstart's executives are 404.

My take on this (1, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951976)

So a company that is too lazy or cheap to advertise itself decides to entirely depend on Google to do the hard work for them. And thus claim Google, who never earned a single cent from them, are responsible for their own failure to invest in advertising. What a joke.

And their argument is pretty damn lame, saying Google is "depriving their customers". Well, their customers already know about their company, and thus should easily be able to find them again. It would be potential customers that might lose it.

I think Google should countersue, claiming that Kinderstart's lack of using paid advertisements on Google has resulted in a depression of Google's stock prices. Or something equally outrageous.

It would be a sad day if Google is forced to open its pagerank system, as search results would be listed in order of the cleverness of a company to exploit their system, instead of actual relevence of the search.

Re:My take on this (1)

waveguide (166484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952189)

Sadly, but companies exist solely to help Web sites boost their ranking by exploiting Google pagerank algorithms-- so this is already true to a degree.

You reap what you sow (5, Informative)

pariahdecss (534450) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951982)

They have since cleaned up their site . . . but they were using every type of outmoded, pseudo seo hacks - alt tag spamming, invisible #FFFFFF links at the bottom of their pages pointing to keyword spam duplicate pages ad nauseum

So don't whine if you get back slapped

Not really... (-1, Troll)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951989)

"Can google taketh what they giveth?"

No. Only Chuck Norris can do that...

Merely a First Measure (5, Funny)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951994)

If this lawsuit fails, they plan to sue everyone who isn't one of their customers for depriving them of revenue.

Re:Merely a First Measure (1)

romanr (113283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952182)

At least their playing it smart - if they sued everyone who is one of their customers, they'd be infringing on SCOs IPR.

Whats next? (1)

gmerideth (107286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14951999)

Are they going to sue me because I dont visit their website and look at their pages? I sense a bit of corporate "waaaaaaaaa" going on here.

Re:Whats next? (2, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952030)

Priceless quote from their press releases [kinderstart.com] (this one is quite old, 2001 infact)

So, you see, all dot coms are not dot bombs!

Well, I think their time has come.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

Incidentally, even archive.org has stopped wasting space on them (last index march 2005)

What bullcrap (1)

tigerknight (305542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952004)

Without having established some sort of contract that they can show paragraph and line where Google breached it, they're SOL.

You should /NOT/ build your business to revolve around someone else's service. That would be like McDonalds suing some city if people started driving by less on their street.

traffic (3, Informative)

mrowton (828923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952005)

you can see how their traffic started falling here [alexa.com]

Re:traffic (2, Insightful)

fastgood (714723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952094)

you can see how their traffic started falling here [Alexa]

Advertising-101 will tell you that heavy promotion merely compresses the timeframe for adoption and repeat business.
If the product stinks, it will flame out in under a year rather than die a slow product cycle death. They lost core visitors here.

Re:traffic (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952197)

That corrosponds with when they fell off archive.org as well
look http://kinderstart.com/>here.

I noticed the archive thing earlier but didn't overly think about it, something big happened to them at that time.

Re:traffic (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952203)

crap slash messes up the links with stars in them, goto archive.org and see the history for kinderstart.com.

maybe... (1)

Clazirus (953627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952032)

maybe I should suing google too. who knows my site traffic will increase...

whinny babies (2, Interesting)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952047)

I don't see the problem. Kinderstart.com still is number four on search results from google and the first three are offshoots of the parent company. Wahhhhhhh! It's like blaming the phone book for a loss in sales because you were too cheap to take out a full page ad, or the newspaper for not hosting a daily column about your business.

Constitutional issue? (1)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952054)

from the article: The complaint accuses Google, as the dominant provider of Web searches, of violating KinderStart's constitutional right to free speech by blocking search engine results showing Web site content and other communications. This sounds like trying to sue a newspaper for not publishing a story about your event because it denies you communication about your event. I guess the newspapers should be sued for not saying why they decide to cover some stories but not others.

Re:Constitutional issue? (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952145)

That's pretty funny. Nobody's denying them free speech. They can say all they want. Nobody's censoring their site. What they apparently fail to understand is that there's no constitutional right to BE LISTENED TO.

Besides, Google is not a public service. If they decide they don't want people promoting purple-and-green teddy bear love in their lobby, they can kick them out of the place. A website or a search engine is not a 'place of public accomodation' or a public location. No company would want that precident set; if it were, you'd have to allow your competitors to post whatever they wanted at your site.

If they want to be indexed higher, perhaps they should, oh, I dunno, PROVIDE NON-SUCKY CONTENT? The whole idea of Google is that they attempt to index the "goodness" of a site. It is by nature subjective and non-deterministic. They MUST change their algorithm fairly often, because so many people are figuring out what they do and cheating.

Google makes no contract with its users or indexed sites. If this place wants better placement, they can pay for google ads, or they can improve their content. Attempting to lawyer their way into better pagerank will not work, or at least, we'd better hope it won't work. If it did, Google would quickly become useless as every half-assed website with shitty content waved a lawyer at them and made them bump their pagerank.

BS (1)

matgorb (562145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952055)

This is plain BullShit, Google do what they want on their pages, and because they use a certain way to organise information and people like it, does't mean that they have to explain anything, nobody force you to use Google. If this company want to be up, they can pay to advertise on Google, end of the story, otherwise, they have to face the Google way like the rest of us, meaning having a good website and not trying to cheat!

I don't think they have a leg to stand on (3, Informative)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952058)

IIRC It was already upheld in a court that search results and rankings were officially considered "opinion", and as such was constitutionally-protected free speech.

If my opinion is that your site sucks, you can't sue me for that.

Re:I don't think they have a leg to stand on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952143)

Duped [slashdot.org] after 4 years

Outrageous (1)

Aque0us (955275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952072)

Kinderstart can't do a damn thing about it. In no way has Google breached a contract or commited a crime by assigning Kinderstart with a low rating. It's like suing over a consumer magazine printing a negative review of a company.

In addition, from what I understand, Google pagerank is decided by people on a website voting on it. If people think that Kinderstart is trash, it's not Google's fault.

Take a look at their website (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952078)

Just in case you'd like to visit Kinderstart's website [kinderstart.com] and oh, er, use some bandwidth while viewing as much of it as you can, don't let me stop you!

What an offensive tagline, "Because kids don't come with an instruction manual." Evolution builds the instruction manual right into the parents and kids. Idiots.

Isnt it their page? (5, Interesting)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952102)

Why are they going after google? This seems more like the web designers fault, and not google's problem.

Being as vague as possible, I once did some work for a company who loved the results I was getting them in their page ranking. Then, one of the 'managers' came up and said that one person was complaining about the design of the site. I tried for a week to explain that any changes would result in a drastic drop in our page rank. I've actually studied the google patent filing, and was able to learn some important details that were used in the site constructively to help the ranking.

Since it wasnt my company, all I could do was explain what I thought the results of this decision would be. I ended up 'changing' the page layout to satisfy the clueless management, onlt to see a 15% drop in traffic and a fall from 6/10 to 4/10 in page ranking on google. Did I try to say it was google's fault? Hell no! I knew exactly where the blame was to be placed, and I vocally explained what was going on, why it was going on, and whos decision it was to make this change.

Suprisingly, they no longer question my ability to do my job. And that was shortly followed by a raise after I pointed out that I was very disapointed that I had to associate my name with such crappy performance, that was a result of poor decisions I warned against. And yes, it is VERY difficult to regain page ranking. But not impossible, unless of course your page uses every nasty trick in the book for optimization.

But the part about this company filing a lawsuit against google based on free speech? Is that a joke? It sounds like the lawyers this company hired are about as incompetent as their web designers.

Re:Isnt it their page? (1)

dekket (786557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952274)

I was recently in the same kind of situation, only the company I work for, had a Google Page rank of 0 when I joined the team.

I spent almost 6 months 24/7 working on the new design, only to hear that there was not enough time to launch it and that we wouldn't sell one more license (of the software we sell,) if we kept the old site.

After 2 months of explaining and writing memo's, I finally got them to fix all information that was to go up, and whadda ya know? The traffic went up by 330% in a month! PageRank increased to 5. The sales have also gone up, however I don't know how much as it isn't my department.

This just proves that some people shouldn't make decisions just because they want to - they should listen to those that know best.

In the Kinderbullshit page's case, they should listen to Google - who actually know what they're doing, in comparison to their icky webmaster anyways.

Free services becoming core infrastructure (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952106)

Let me get this straight...

1) Private company freely provides service
2) It is found useful by individuals and companies for finding one another
3) Its use becomes wide-spread and significant in the success of companies (maybe)
4) One particular company sues provider of this free service for not catering to them

Not that this is the first one to bite the hand that feeds.

Re:Free services becoming core infrastructure (1)

Baseball_Fan (959550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952281)

Let me get this straight...

1) Private company freely provides service
2) It is found useful by individuals and companies for finding one another
3) Its use becomes wide-spread and significant in the success of companies (maybe)
4) One particular company sues provider of this free service for not catering to them

I agree in this case google should be free to rank whoever they want, wherever they want.

Whenever a company goes from small and usefull to large and not-so-useful, we should be aware that the service we get might change. The larger google gets, the more revenue they will need. In the past, google has only used text advertising in search results. Will the whole first page of results one day be based on paid companies? Will google pepper in paid advertising in the results without letting visiters know? I know google is not doing this yet, but consider phone companies that charge money for keeping your phone number private! To those phone numbers that are not private, they get sold to marketing firms to call. The company will find a way to make money no matter what your preference.

The key is to not let google become the only success in town. If google has serious competition, and we can limit the size of google, then all will be well. We don't want google to become the next microsoft, that dictates to all of us the rules.

In other news... (5, Funny)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952118)

I'm suing Kinderstart for not linking to me.

Why is this YRO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14952128)

This seems to be a rather uninteresting civil suit that happens to involve Google.

Google should help them out... (2, Funny)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952149)

The way I see it, Google has not held up their end of this mysterious aggreement between the two parties. I think the two companies should just part ways. They are to have no associations with each other that would facillitate other disaggreements. To this end, Kinderstart should not have any links or mention of Google on their site and vice-versa.

Shoot Your Lawyer (4, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952191)

Your "constitutional right to free speech" is a restriction on the actions of the federal government, and through incorporation [wikipedia.org] , the states. It does not require any private entity to provide you a forum, listen to you, or to treat you fairly, whatever you think that might mean.

With a Google AdSense block right at the top (1)

fz00 (466988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952192)

Classic. Maybe they need to pony up and get their name in the adsense block?!?!?

Woah...Wait (1)

RagingFuryBlack (956453) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952200)

Wait.... ...Aren't we helping them with their google rank now? Slashdotting someone has to help their page rank in some way, shape or form.

Re:Woah...Wait (1)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952244)

I don't believe google goes through the slashdot comments or at least make them count for anything, but I could be wrong.

Consequences (1)

galdosdi (891570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952201)

There's one other thing to consider, besides who's "right" or "wrong"-- what would the consequences of Kinderstart winning this case? That's easy: it would kill Google and every other search engine based in the U.S. I can't imagine how a search engine could possibly keep in business when every single day-to-day change of internal metrics has to be documented and justified in order to protect the firm legally. It would just be ridiculous. You couldn't list or not list or give more or give less pagerank to any page on any site at all without being liable to just about everyone. Kinderstart probably doesn't have jack of a case, but even if they did, Congress would (if they're not asleep at the switch) have to meddle instantly before everything went to hell.

Have you really clicked around on this site? (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952204)

This place is a giant collection of links.

If you click on any category theres a very good chance that the first few links listed will give you error 404.

I could use google to make this website in a few hours. It has no original content to add.

Excellent! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952216)

I guess the next natural step is to throw a crappy website together and then sue kinderstart.com for failing to link to it. In the unlikely event that they DO link to it, I'll just sue them for my 'losses' due to them losing 70% of their traffic (and so reducing the visibility of their link to my crappy content free site).

Or we could all just grow up and realize that nobody, including a search engine, is legally obligated to 'recommend' (however mildly) any other site unless a private contract is in place.

Perhaps they should put up some pictures of park benches statues and bread crumbs if they want Google's ranking system [google.com] to rate them higher.

This site deserves it (2, Interesting)

NightHwk1 (172799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952222)

It's nothing but another one of those "web directory" sites, full of links to other sites that were likely conned into paying KinderStart for the listing.

The site looks like the last time it was updated was 2000, the year on their site copyright. Most of the links don't even work.

I've built sites for these types of companies (back when I was starting out). Its probably just one or two people working out of their garage, fully expecting that the 10,000 domain names they purchased entitle them to millions of dollars. Quite sad, really.

Google has no obligation to pay their rent, and the Internet has no use for this trash. Get a real fucking job.

Dominance (1)

ikejam (821818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952224)

I think if the issue has to have any merit, it will be based on proving google's dominance to such an extent as to be monopolistic and that barring a site from google bars it from the net effectively - which with yahoo around won't be easy.

perhaps if the site was barred for political,racial or anythign that deals with the idea of the content rather than, as it seems, the quality of it, perhaps there might have been a suit.

I think google can walk with this one simply stating they are trying to eliminate crap sites so as to user experience better. Besides lowering page ranks is not exactly eliminating free speech, rather eliminating google's approximation of the page's value. Plus the fact that they are seeking economic gain from free speech probably weakens their case a whole lot. So the whole free speech arguemtn is non existent, thoguht itl be intersting to see if it comes up in some other issue.

Anyway, google can potray itslef as giving free consultancy to the users. The sites are not their clients and they do not owe anything to them.

Page rank is broken (1)

scwizard (941758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952227)

Page rank is completely broken, it looks like google realizes this and it doesn't seem to affect search results as much as it used to. Page rank mostly has to do with link webs, and it looks like google finally detected that the website in question was linking to a bunch of pointless crap so decided to tank its page rank. It could have tanked it's position in the search result in many other ways.

Proof that pagerank is broken: my livejournal has a (live) page rank of 5 (going down to 4 occasionally). This and that I've seen how easily PR can be inflated.

Look and feel (1)

darksaber (46072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952235)

Did anyone notice that the articles on their site are formated really similarly to slashdot's articles? Replies are missing, but the headers and the ownership comment at the bottom are basically the same.

New mod needed (1)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952276)

Inciteful

And in further news... (5, Funny)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14952273)

Yale is suing U. S. News and World Report for unfairly depriving the university of applicants by downgrading its overall ranking to #3, having formerly ranked it as tied with Harvard for #1, without reason or warning...

Pluto is suing the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City for depriving it of attention by school children by downgrading its status from "planet" to "biggest object in the Kuiper belt," without reason or warning...

and Texas is suing Alaska for unfairly depriving it of bragging rights by downgrading its rank among states listed by area, without reason or warning.

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