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Defused Googlebombs May Backfire

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the gooooobooooom dept.

Google 105

linguista submits for us today an article on the Guardian site, which theorizes Google's bomb defusing may backfire on the company. Article author Nicholas Carr calls out Google for tweaking search results based on the company public image. As he notes, the Google blog entry announcing the end to bombing didn't cite a desire for better queries as the reason behind the change. Instead "... we've seen more people assume that they are Google's opinion, or that Google has hand-coded the results for these Googlebombed queries. That's not true, and it seemed like it was worth trying to correct that misperception." While the general image of Google is still that it 'does no evil', it's worth noting that the search engine is not solely a link popularity contest. The results you get from Google are tweaked by a number of factors, and at the end of the day the company has complete control over what rises to the top.

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105 comments

Sounds like sour grapes (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847420)

Is it just me, or does it sound like this was written by someone who was previously making a living off of increasing people's pagerank and is now miffed that his job is harder?

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17847540)

Yeah, I don't think there's any question that tweaking the algorithm to ignore googlebombs *does* improve search results, whatever the wording of the Google executive's statement.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (2, Funny)

cultrhetor (961872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848902)

But I miss "miserable failure!"

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850130)

But I miss "miserable failure!"

Don't worry, he will be around for another 2 years.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853138)

But I miss "miserable failure!"

The google bomb has been diffused, but if you do the actual search [google.com] , your reaction would depend on whether you like G. W. Bush or not. Link description after link description refer to him, with no equal time, as there used to be, for Michael Moore.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

wdr1 (31310) | more than 7 years ago | (#17854698)

No worries, you still have french military victories [google.com] .

-Bill

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (2, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847708)

It's just you IMHO. It sounds like someone that doesn't like the fact that Google is doing it for the sole reason of improving its image in the world and not for the reason that its algorithms shouldn't have allowed it to occur in the first place.

To be honest, Googlebombs that point you to relevant information from somewhere else (i.e. linking a restaurant's name to your blog content from another post) is an important feature of Google's indexing. It should not be limited. Linking unrelated content ("failure" to various individuals that may or may not be) needed to be fixed.

As long as their new methods allow for related content to continue to be linked to and unrelated content to be bumped, I'm good w/it.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (5, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847942)

No, it's not just him. When I go to Google, I expect to spend as little time as possible finding what I want. Google should know what I'm looking for, and by and large it succeeds. If some sad bunch of nerds wants to manipulate sites so that a bogus link between a phrase and a person/organisation is created then they are of course free to do so, and Google is free to take whatever steps it likes to fight it. There's always robots.txt, isn't there, if you want to ensure no-one ever visits your site. Or there's cheating, and getting caught by Google.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17848022)

I haven't a clue why you think that what you wrote has anything to do w/what I wrote, but whatever.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848416)

Yes, yes, yes, but why does that make you like jandrese? Or do you think that something you wrote above in some way implies the article writer makes a living increasing people's Pagerank?

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17851576)

Can't comment on your homepage article on the Amiga as the comments are closed, so I am chasing you here.

I sortof agree on your point of obsolescence of planar graphics, but disagree that it wasn't "fixable".

The chips in the Amiga could have moved more heavily into animation (ie: real-time compositing & blending), AA / font handling / scaling and/or 3d hardware (3dfx textured triangles way).

The need for graphic accelerators didn't stop because we had the bandwidth to do full screen 24bits.

(Of course, the OS with no memory protection, was as dead as MacOS. But MacOS managed to survive for /years/)

Anyway, interesting post.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17854202)

I think the point is it wouldn't have been in any way related to the original Amiga design.

Yes, you can build a machine with accellerated graphics in 2007. It's just it wouldn't be Amiga architecture, because that's sub-optimal for modern graphics. It was optimal in 1990, but not in 2000.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848422)

If it means my girlfriend can spend less time removing spam links from her forum to protect her sites page rank and more time in bed with me, I'm all for it.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17850548)

Perhaps you just need s girlfriend who cares more about you than a website.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852090)

Relationship advice from an Anonymous Coward on Slashdot.

Words fail me.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

GeffDE (712146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850644)

So what Google means when it says, "Do No Evil" is "Letting you let out your devilish side, in bed."


I'm all for it.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1, Flamebait)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849406)

Google should know what I'm looking for, and by and large it succeeds.

You have no idea how completely ignorant and idiotic that statement is do you? You expect a computer to understand your personal ontology for concepts and terminology? How about its ability to understand what you consider the most important term of your query?

Lets say you put in a three word term to search for something. Lets say "Spicy Spaghetti Sauce". One person may feel that spicy is the most important aspect of his search. Another person may feel consistency that is proper for spaghetti is the most important search focus. Another person may feel that any pasta sauce will do. Please, tell me how Google is supposed to be able to tell the difference? One method of doing this is to assign a value to the terms in order of their appearance. So person who cares about Spaghetti first should theoretically input "Spaghetti Spicy Sauce", the problem with that is people don't think like that.

Your "Divine Map" is not the standard definition of relationships between ideas. If Google returns results you think are relevant, great. If not, the problem is with you - not Google.

Here's another issue. Google doesn't know everything about everything. So this "sad bunch of geeks" that are out "manipulating" the search results are actually the backbone of google's original ontological analysis. If there is a huge spike in term to concept linkage, Google (in theory) recognizes it and begins to retroactively evaluate their previously indexed relationships. This is helpful for keeping constantly evolving social language connected to the correct information on the web.

Second, traffic patterns. You can try to make your porn site the first link on Google for "baby wipes" all day. But if every person who clicks that link clicks back out immediately - then the term is irrelevant. Google recognizes this. And their automated algo deals with it.

Going back to your original gripe, "baby wipes" may be a very relevant term for some very special porn (think adult babies). Now who is right? You? The Mob? The people who are bitching about "google not knowing what they want"?

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849782)

You have no idea how completely ignorant and idiotic that statement is do you? You expect a computer to understand your personal ontology for concepts and terminology? How about its ability to understand what you consider the most important term of your query?
Ever heard of personalised search?

You have no idea what kind of algorithms they use do you?
Do you understand how Bayesian statistics work?

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (4, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850254)

Do you understand how Bayesian statistics work?

Yeah, it wouldn't be anything like this part of my post would it?

Google doesn't know everything about everything. So this "sad bunch of geeks" that are out "manipulating" the search results are actually the backbone of google's original ontological analysis. If there is a huge spike in term to concept linkage, Google (in theory) recognizes it and begins to retroactively evaluate their previously indexed relationships.

My problem isn't with Google, or the googlebomb for that matter, its the kid thinking that a system should automatically know what he wants no matter what he put into it.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

porl (932021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17856566)

we need a new mod stat: (+1: Touche) :)

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850736)

It sounds to me like you're completely misinterpreting what the grandparent said about the "sad bunch of nerds" (and yes, it was nerds in the grandparent's post, not geeks).

In context, this is specifically talking about the people who create googlebombs to link to a site using terms that do not appear in (or even apply to) the site itself.

For example, if I buy up a bunch of expiring domains and start linking to slashdot.org with links saying things like "hot xxx bestiality porn", should it start showing up in searches for those?

How about for "microsoft is great" "linux sucks donkey balls" "optimized for Internet Explorer 6" "french military victories," etc...?

As for the baby wipes, Google's existing Pagerank system should have already taken care of that by pushing it far down the results list. Huggies and the like are way more likely to be near the top than porn.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851620)

Yeah, I misquoted - my fault entirely.

Maybe I'm not communicating my point accurately either. I was really trying to focus on the ridiculous statement "Google should know what I'm looking for" (or something to that effect). Google has a pretty decent idea of what you may be looking for, and that's about as good as it's going to get. A search engine has cultural and social hurdles that it just cannot address with pure logic. Personal perspective can really distort whether or not your search results are "relevant".

To a large degree you can assume that what the majority report back as accurate is what the majority will continue to want fed to them. OK, fine - but for the minority who don't know how to refine their search it makes the search engine inaccurate. I can fully accept this as a reality and personally have no real issue with Google results.

What I do have an issue with is people removing themselves from the equation of inaccurate results and placing it squarely on the shoulders of the search engine.

Googlebombing is just a scratch on the surface of this subject. Do I think that the first result for French Military Victories is accurate in the sense of actual French Military Victories? Hells no. But, from a social and web culture perspective, it is. Web jokes and memes rely on this sort of relationship to exist. By altering the search term to include "in History" you get a more accurate result. True,the first result is still from the same website, but it does at least have text dealing with the subject and the second result is to Wikipedia.

As the content of the web broadens, and its userbase begins to straddle more demographics - Google's goal of indexing the worlds information become more complex. While initial uses of search engines can be attributed to research functions, user studies have shown that Search engines are being used as navigation tools to a greater degree. Navigation to relevant subject matter becomes more subjective and harder to accomplish with satisfaction to these differing factions.

My whole point is that eventually, we are going to have to stop blaming a search engine for giving us crap results on the onset and perhaps evaluate our search parameters before we go pointing the finger.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17857384)

I was really trying to focus on the ridiculous statement "Google should know what I'm looking for" (or something to that effect). Google has a pretty decent idea of what you may be looking for, and that's about as good as it's going to get. A search engine has cultural and social hurdles that it just cannot address with pure logic. Personal perspective can really distort whether or not your search results are "relevant".

I disagree on two counts. Firstly, Google should know what I'm search for; that's what it's there for. It should try to know as well as is possible - how possible that is is another matter. Secondly, human brains seem essentially to be big fat logic machines. It is unreasonable to expect google to know exactly what I'm thinking every time but the way I read the OP was that google should get as near as possible.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858172)

Firstly, Google should know what I'm search for; that's what it's there for.

Its there as a honeypot for your eyes so they can sell them to advertisers.

It is unreasonable to expect google to know exactly what I'm thinking every time but the way I read the OP was that google should get as near as possible.

My problem with this mentality is that near as possible is dependent on the person searching and these reference points (peoples preconception of results) are distancing themselves from each other pretty quickly on a growing number of topics. The one world view definition is inaccurate.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858484)

Its there as a honeypot for your eyes so they can sell them to advertisers.

That is not google's function as it relates to the internet, or to me. That is its purpose in with respect to its shareholders and its executives.

My problem with this mentality is that near as possible is dependent on the person searching and these reference points (peoples preconception of results) are distancing themselves from each other pretty quickly on a growing number of topics. The one world view definition is inaccurate.

Personalized search will go some way to fixing that.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849128)

So if they didn't allow it in the first place, that's OK, but they did allow it but later fixed it to not allow it, it's bad?

I don't think it matters if the spamming was relevant, I'd prefer an indexing system that discourages spamming. Usually the products or brands being spammed aren't as good anyway.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853498)

It sounds like someone that doesn't like the fact that Google is doing it for the sole reason of improving its image in the world and not for the reason that its algorithms shouldn't have allowed it to occur in the first place.
Who says they are doing for the sole reason of improving their image? Not Google.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 7 years ago | (#17857662)

It's just you IMHO. It sounds like someone that doesn't like the fact that Google is doing it for the sole reason of improving its image in the world and not for the reason that its algorithms shouldn't have allowed it to occur in the first place.

So what, they shouldn't fix their algorithms if they find something wrong? They should act in a way that makes people think badly of them?

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847768)

More telling is his conclusion, which typically is a summary of the article, in which he basically says "google belongs to google". Wow. Now THAT is a revelation. Next thing you'll tell me is that the police department doesn't belong to me. That might really break my mind.

He's not even arguing that preventing googlebombing is a bad thing! All he says is that he's concerned that google is preventing googlebombing to protect their corporate image. I have news for this idiot: google is a corporation. They have a corporate image. If they want to keep doing business with other corporations, they have to protect it.

On top of all that, the corporate image google wishes to present is of a company that does no evil. Arguably they fall down on their ass on this whole China censorship thing, but other than that they do a pretty good job and preventing mob rule in the form of googlebombing is definitely not evil.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (5, Informative)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847970)

but other than that they do a pretty good job
No, they do a terrible job. They endorse and encourage domain squatting [google.com] .

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848170)

Now THAT is the best anti-google argument I have ever heard. Thanks, I will keep it in mind. Mind you, I don't give google any money, although I do understand that I enhance their value to advertisers by providing another pair of eyeballs (not that I click on ads. even the google text ads, usually. If I want to find a product, I search for it, I don't have it searching for me.)

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851646)

But not squatting on names that rightfully belong to specific other entities, at least. From the FAQ: [google.com]

As a courtesy to trademark owners, Google provides a simple publicly available complaint procedure and, once notified of a legitimate complaint against a specific domain, Google will no longer serve ads to that domain.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (4, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852162)

Next thing you'll tell me is that the police department doesn't belong to me. That might really break my mind.
Actually, unless you toil under a non-democratic regime, the police department does belong to you.

Of course, it belongs equally to several hundred thousand of your fellow citizens, and you've all agreed on a layer of bureaucracy between you and the police, to prevent each of you from trying to exercise direct control over the police department on an individual basis according to your whims and moods.

If you can think of a better way to manage a publically-owned police department, I'm sure political scientists the world over would be eager to hear about it.

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

FormulaTroll (983794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847850)

Actually, this is the guy that made his living saying IT doesn't matter [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

FormulaTroll (983794) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847912)

My bad. Fixed link [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sounds like sour grapes (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17856036)

I was just thinking that. Surely as long as every page is judged by the same metrics (Ie there's no rule that specifies where the page should be based on things like the domain, and it's purely on content and links) then Google still isn't 'tweaking the results' to fit what they want to see.

Not specifically targetted (4, Informative)

Bandman (86149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847432)

They tweaked the algorythm so that it fixed googlebombs in general, not manually removed these particular bombs. In fact, in the text about the tweak, they specifically stated that they changed the algorythm so it would work with multiple languages, etc

Re:Not specifically targetted (1)

TechnoLust (528463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847690)

Yeah the "at the end of the day they have complete control of what rises to the top" line gives it away. Google is so smart they can anticipate EVERY POSSIBLE use of their code? If they are, they should buy M$ and fix all the damn bugs and security vulnerabilities in their products.

Re:Not specifically targetted (2, Funny)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849642)

Google is so smart they can anticipate EVERY POSSIBLE use of their code? If they are, they should buy M$ and fix all the damn bugs and security vulnerabilities in their products.

What? And put Symantec, McAfee, and countless IT professionals out of business? How dare you!

Actually, if you read the autobiographical companion to Earth in the Balance, in the book of Disseminations 3:2-10, Al Gore recounts a preminition that consumed him shortly after Clinton passed him the reefer:

"And I looked [fffft! ffffft! d-d-damn thats good shit Bill], and behold a pale white engineer [fffFFFT! FFFFT!... aHUh! aHUH!]: and his name that sat on him was googoo, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto him over the fourth part of [FFFFT! FFFFFFT! FFFFFFT! AHUH! AHUH!] m-m-my creation, to kill with [ahuh! ahuh!] adverts, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of [ahuh!] capitalism."

Re:Not specifically targetted (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17856676)

Why buy MS and waste valuable time and resources fixing bugs when they can just continue their efforts to make more applications web-based, where the user's O/S becomes meaningless? Google have the perfect basis to start offering completely cross platform, device independent solutions (and their current business model means they can offer these solutions free of charge to the end consumer, a price MS would find it very difficult to compete with). No, I think Google has much bigger plans than merely buying MS, I think it plans to eventually make MS irrelevant.

Re:Not specifically targetted (5, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848132)

Exactly. I'm tired of people jumping to the conclusion that Google used some crude, quickfix solution to googlebombs, like manually removing that particular bomb, or ending the use of links and pagerank. PLEASE -- give them just a teensy weensy bit of credit here. If you really think they just inserted those particular phrases (e.g., "miserable failure") directly into the search engine's code, then please -- try another Googlebomb. If the fix really was just for the known, existing googlebombs, you should have no problem stacking Google's results again. If you can't do that, then do us a favor, and shut the hell up until you know what you're talking about.

Not that I disagree, in general... (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848700)

If you really think they just inserted those particular phrases (e.g., "miserable failure") directly into the search engine's code, then please -- try another Googlebomb.
How about "french military victories"? It still "works".

Re:Not that I disagree, in general... (1)

jeremymiles (725644) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849768)

Well, kind of, but it's different from most Googlebombs, because the page is actually about French Military Victories, and contains that text, in bold. You won't find the text 'miserable failure' in George Bush's biography.

Autobiography (2, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850060)

You won't find the text 'miserable failure' in George Bush's biography.

You might - it depends on the author. ;)

However, you're correct that you won't find it in his autobiography.

Still - good point about the page actually containing the phrase that was being searched for.

Re:Dubya's autobiography (2, Funny)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851718)

Yeah, but I'll bet his attempts at writing an autobiography will be a miserable failure.

"My Pet Congress - a children's story by George W. Bush"

Re:Not specifically targetted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17855860)

Except a search for "Santorum" still brings this up as the first hit: www.spreadingsantorum.com

Re:Not specifically targetted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17848158)

Yeah, reading about this I actually tried some Google bombs I knew of in other languages, to see that they no longer worked. For example someone Google bombed "presidente estúpido" to link to Hugo Chávez. No longer works. (It now yields articles that mention the google bomb.)

I was a bit miffed by the Washington Post summary of this, linked to by Slashdot. It said something like, "Google reversed its position of not modifying search results." This is not the same as adjusting the algorithm.

Re:Not specifically targetted (4, Funny)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848598)

Yeah, they looked into it more deeply and found that apparently what happened is that googlebombs originally weren't supposed to work, but through some kind of glitch in the algorithm, they still got a pagerank bump.

So they just went ahead and fixed the glitch. Googlebombs won't be receiving a pagerank bump, so it'll just work itself out naturally. Google always likes to avoid confrontation, whenever possible. Problem is solved from their end.

Re:Not specifically targetted (2, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848886)

Um... yeah. Mr. Miserable Failure? We're going to have to ask you to move your desk down into the basement, mmmkay? And if you get a chance, while you're down there, you could squash some bugs in the code, that'd be great.

Re:Not specifically targetted (1)

vocaro (569257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17855558)

algorythm [urbandictionary.com] : the funky beat to which Al Gore dances

Pitr? (4, Funny)

srw (38421) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847448)

I'm not sure how they can keep saying they do no evil now that Pitr works there.

Re:Pitr? (3, Funny)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847556)

Yes, it's kind of hard to reconcile [userfriendly.org] .

Re:Pitr? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17850098)

Man, I forgot how much User Friendly sucks.

Axes to grind ? (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847570)

The results you get from Google are tweaked by a number of factors, and at the end of the day the company has complete control over what rises to the top
You don't say ! Luckily I like the fact Google does its best to cut out the nonsense spam sites which seem to be intent on swamping the web. Whoever wrote this article seems to me to be a little too concerned about this and makes me suspect he is some kind of spam merchant himself.

Re:Axes to grind ? (2, Funny)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848514)

Luckily I like the fact Google does its best to cut out the nonsense spam sites which seem to be intent on swamping the web.
Yeah right, "Find Brain Surgery at Ebay" is always relevant to a search.

Re:Axes to grind ? (2, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851138)

Of course. Who wants to pay full price for brain surgery?

Re:Axes to grind ? (1)

shadowcabbit (466253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852752)

A halfwit, obviously.

Re:Axes to grind ? (2, Insightful)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848560)

That's what I thought at first too, but then I thought about my mom, who only three years ago asked me how to rewind the DVD before taking it back to the video store and last year told me to stop signing up for porn on her computer (which I never even use) because she keeps seeing ads that say "Girls from want to date you!". Just yesterday my roommate asked got an instant message from some girl he didn't know that asked him to check out a picture of them so she could add it to facebook, and he actually clicked the link to check it out and then wondered why his computer started acting funny. The point I'm trying to make is that a lot of people don't know how Google works, and it might be a good idea for some of us who do know to inform them. Then again, I'm not sure it would make much of a difference anyway.

Sounds To Me (4, Insightful)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847584)

Sounds to me like Google just made their product/service better is all. Of course Google can control what goes to the top of the search engine - that is what they do. They are "doing no evil" by upgrading and refining their algorithms if anything.

Just because people cannot ghost and bomb their pages to get quick boosts in pagerank does not mean that Google is doing evil, it just means they were never good at their jobs to begin with.

Who else to be in control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17847736)

Of course they have all the damn'n controll over what comes up!
What the hell do you think would pop up if you would look up "linux penguins" ?
I'll bet you that would be a real life penguin with a dildo up his arse offering you a video for only $5.99!

Why is this a problem? (3, Interesting)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847750)

From the rant:

But last week, after years of taking a fairly laissez-faire attitude toward Googlebombing, Google decided to put an end to the popular sport. It incorporated into its search engine a Googlebomb-sniffing algorithm that somehow manages to identify and neutralise any concerted effort to skew search results for a word or phrase.
So um ... they changed pagerank so pages that actually contain a phrase are ranked higher than pages that don't contain the phrase?

Now, given that this originally was their strong point as compared to other search engines, and they picked up many more articles that were useful, yes, it might be a problem. However, you could also say that the simple fact that they used an algorithm that hadn't been gamed by all of the 'search engine optimized' as their real advantage, and there may be an advantage to changing it so that it's a moving target.

I mean, how awful would it be if we actually found the stuff we were looking for when we searched, rather than the search engine spam? If it gives worse results, then it's a problem ... but let's wait and see how it goes, and let the market sort things out.

I see (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17847764)

French Military Victories [google.co.uk] still works. Guess that one really must be objective information.

French Military Victories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17849064)

ROTFLMAO

Re:I see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17852934)

Thats not a Googlebomb, smart ass. That site intends to portray itself on the results for those same keywords. The fact that spreads virally is what made it rise to the top of the SERPs, not the objectivity of its "information".

Googlebombs are used to associate a given page to some keywords that can not be found (at least prominently) on the target webpage.

 

That page actually contains the search term (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17857642)

My guess is that the "tweaking" they have done actually just consist on demanding that the page contains the term being searched for. Which is bad, since sometimes the best page uses an alternative terminology for the subject you are looking for.

If I'm right, we can resume googlebombing simply by picking the words or phrases from the page we want to "bomb".

Amazingly effective (1)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847804)

I'm not sure if it qualifies as a Googlebomb because there was no intent to increase page ranking, but I've been astonished at how quickly vandalized Wikipedia pages show up on Google. Considering that most vandalism is removed in minutes, it almost seems that Google's spider sits there and waits for new stuff to pounce on.

By contrast, I administer a MediaWiki installation for a non-profit organization. I get link spam constantly, but that fails to appear on Google. I can only assume the search engine knows about the "real" Googlebomb links and ignores them.

OpenGoogle (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847826)

Google should expose at least part of their ranking formula as a dead-simple GUI to control parameters to Google users. That way we can control our own "Google" rankings according to our own agendas. People could share their params with friends so we don't have to figure out what to do to be trustworthy, just which of our friends' searching techniques we trust. Just like in the real world.

Doing so would go a long way towards making it less necessary to trust Google. Eventually we would be best served by a totally open ranking client that searches multiple competing backend indices. But if Google handed us "trust web" to do it ourselves, they'd probably preempt that inevitable infomediation that would also disconnect them from the users, and thereby from their highest value relationship.

Re:OpenGoogle (1)

Pinkfud (781828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847994)

On the face of it, I would agree. But I'm afraid all that would happen is that a search for shoe stores would bring up hundreds of porn sites. Give a mess-maker better tools, and he will make bigger messes.

Re:OpenGoogle (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848370)

That's why sharing the configs is so important. Wired magazine, for example, could share several different configs in an article about how they produce different results. And part of the SEO game would be promoting the configs best suited to feature your site. But the straitjacket would be slipped for those who care to live free.

Re:OpenGoogle (1)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848032)

I'm not sure why you think this would end the arms race between search engines and abusers.

Granted, if Google's ranking system were perfect having it open would do no harm, but since it an evolving solution the inevitable result of full disclosure would be abusers being handed the tools to hone their skewing of the results to razor-sharp precision, leaving honest folk in the dust.

Blind trust in Google would be foolish, but at least I remain relatively sure that Google and I have one thing in common: neither of us are on the side of the spammers, linkfarmers or bombers.

Re:OpenGoogle (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848478)

Google can keep fighting its war against the spammers. That's one reason why I suggested that Google could keep some parameters secret.

But I would no longer have to have to depend on the illusion that my interests are identical to Google's.

Re:OpenGoogle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17850492)

Google should expose at least part of their ranking formula as a dead-simple GUI to control parameters to Google users. That way we can control our own "Google" rankings according to our own agendas.
You mean like Google Co-op [google.com] ?

Re:OpenGoogle (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850646)

Kinda. Can you use those APIs to create your own rankings of the searches inside Google's indexed results, or do the custom apps still get results ranked by Google's secret formula?

Careful (2, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#17847828)

You guys will get Slashdot in trouble, what if the Boston police are reading this article?

Google controling what you see? 1984? (0, Flamebait)

ion-cannon (1015219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848142)

Scary if everyone goes with google to find things, then that one source censors.......is this what the future holds?......it's already kinda hard to get local election info on google.....and then controversial subjects will be buried becuase google is someone to sue by any government interest group....scary 1984?

Re:Google controling what you see? 1984? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849448)

Just remember that there are LOTS of other search engines out there. If Google starts to freak you out, or just simply begins to annoy you, you're always free to search elsewhere, too. Then, as other people start to feel similarly, they'll switch to something else as well, ultimately leading to a decrease in popularity of Google. That's the general theory, anyway.

Remember, Google isn't a monopoly on search (far from it). They're just the most popular because they've worked hard at providing their users with relevant results and keeping the interface simple to use. As far as I'm concerned, tweaking an algorithm (not just censoring certain terms) is a welcome improvement that should mitigate cheating the page rank and forcing less relevant/desireable results to the top.

Obviously (0)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848174)

Google is a private company. Its mission is to provide a product that people find useful while making money off advertisement. Google bombs run counter to both purposes, but removing them is obviously not a democratic process. Since domain name system doesn't seem to working for this purpose, I guess we do need a government or non-profit entity providing unbiased search results where each web site will be allowed to register keywords that accurately reflects its purpose and obvious violators are held responsible. This will make sure that commercially unpopular speech can be still found.

Re:Obviously (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848580)

And as such it has pretty much proven that regardless of the intent of the original entrapreneurs, making money is inversely porportional to doing good.

Re:Obviously (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849886)

Doing good != Democracy. Getting rid of google bombs is doing good for a typical user, its just done by means other than users voting with their clicks.

Re:Obviously (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850016)

Doing good != Democracy.

See, that's a pretty strange statement to me, in and of itself.

Getting rid of google bombs is doing good for a typical user, its just done by means other than users voting with their clicks.

Censorship of political speech is never good for the typical user.

Re:Obviously (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850604)

Feel free to not use Google then. I'll be happy when there are NO shitty domain typo/search term squatter pages in the world, "Googlebombs" be damned.

Re:Obviously (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850766)

Feel free to not use Google then. I'll be happy when there are NO shitty domain typo/search term squatter pages in the world, "Googlebombs" be damned.

This is about far more than just google- though the error in their pagerank routine opened the door. It's really about protecting free speech even when you dislike the use of that speech- an ideological position that I believe we've made our respective points on. I may not like what you say- but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. Are domain typo/search term squatter pages the net's eqivalent of cheap tabloid journalism? You bet. But that doesn't mean we should be limiting their ability to find a wider audience.

Re:Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17853528)

Free speech, dumbass, means you're free to say it. It doesn't mean that you're free to force other people to publish it.

Re:Obviously (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853610)

Free speech, dumbass, means you're free to say it. It doesn't mean that you're free to force other people to publish it.

True. But the point is, Google's claim to fame was that they would "Do no evil" while making money. Censorship in a media company that claims to treat everybody equally is arguably evil. Google put themselves on a higher moral plane (than any libertarian could pretend to be on) and failed.

Re:Obviously (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17855872)

I am not publishing your political speech on my homepage, and I don't see why Google should have to either. Don't me or Google have free speech rights as well?

Still evil (1)

Techmaniac (447838) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848320)

They are still evil for their encouragement of the Chinese government's censorship and jack-booted press tactics. The Shrubya googlebomb actually gave them a karma point back, and now they've gone and thrown it away.
I choose to search with other sites since they are not only evil, but hypocrites.

Nothing to see here, please move along... (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17848724)

Google's explanation for why they hadn't fixed this in the past was that Googlebombs never displaced useful searches. That is, they didn't get in the way of many people actually trying to find information. The canonical, "miserable failure" example illustrates this -- is there any reason to expect that Google would give you useful hits for that search? I can't think of a reason to use that search that unless you were just curious about what Google would return.

It was clear from Google's release that they considered the Googlebombs a perhaps amusing nuisance, but it wasn't something they supported. Rather, it just wasn't worth the effort of fixing since that effort would be at the cost of other development that they felt would do more to improve user searches.

Now, they found that people were assuming these funny responses were somehow endorsed by Google. They could put up a disclaimer, but a) not many people actually read fine print, and b) many would not believe the disclaimer anyway. Since the Googlebombs didn't actually serve any useful purpose and Google didn't want to be mistaken for endorsing whatever might be inferred from the presence of these odd search results, they did away with it. That's perfectly legitimate.

So, Google really DID claim they were making a minor improvement to their search results through this change, but that wasn't the highest priority. It's not like they've got any particular duty to maintain details of the PageRank algorithm. Further, protecting their image IS an important goal, particularly when it can be done through a means that has a positive impact on the searches. Too bad that a cute Google game is gone, but another one will crop up before long, I'm sure...

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along... (1)

magixman (883752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850624)

Now, they found that people were assuming these funny responses were somehow endorsed by Google.
You bet they did. I can't tell you how many bright, thoughtful and technology savvy folks I showed the 'failure' search to who just assumed it was some sort of joke that those crazy kids in Mountain View were foisting on us. I think Google's reasoning for taking this step is legitimate and I respect the fact that they were honest about it.

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along... (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17851716)

I thought the same at first, actually, then one of them spontaneously broke (I think it started linking to a story about its being a googlebomb instead).

This article was shitty and banal. (3, Interesting)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849100)

Here are a few shining turds from TFA:

The company is allowing concerns about its public image to influence the search results it dishes up.

Wow! What the hell motivation do you think Google was built on in the first place? The motivation was to achieve popularity, by being a good search engine. Yes, that's the "public image" they aimed for. So, what changed?

Let's not forget that Google's machine is not our machine. It's Google's, for better or worse.

OMG. Do you actually mean to tell me... I didn't invent Google?

Seriously, the entire lame article was just one big excuse to use the word "salubrious".

Settle down... (1)

iamnemo (1043336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17849254)

So they ensure that the linking text uses words that are consistent with the linked document, before correlating the linking text with the linked document. It might be sophisticated enough for handling synonyms or extracting characteristic words from the document using machine learning. This is a nice iterative improvement to their algorithms. Why is it that every mention of Google induces strong resentment? Google can do no good among so many here. So Google is having its time in the public and press spotlight, get over it. Imagine how crappy the computer industry would be without Google: most critical internet infrastructure would be tied to specific client applications.

"Yahoobombing" still works (2, Interesting)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17850126)

See this Yahoobomb [yahoo.com] , which faithfully links to the world's number one mostest miserable failure [whitehouse.gov] of all time.

Microsoft's search offering [live.com] (a Billbomb?) only comes up with Jimmy Carter and Michael Moore, at places two and seven respectively, with the rest of the results being links to stories about the Googlebomb as it pertains to that miserable failure [whitehouse.gov] .

Past Googlebomb (1)

calctech (414259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17852910)

I can remember a time when Googling "crappy software" resulted in Micro$oft being the first result.

Google controls their own search data (1)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17853546)

... news at 11!

Wow, Google is able to control the ranking of pages in their own search engine by tweaking their own algorithms? That's a surprise to me!

There is no such evil... (1)

tgv (254536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17856256)

It's impossible that the company has total control of what comes up for every query. There are simply too many queries and too many pages. Anybody who wants to control that needs hundreds of billions of control knobs. Google would need a lot of employees to twist and turn them.

BTW, the suggested approach was tried by AskJeeves and failed. They needed too many editors to edit page ranks per keyword and combinations. And they covered not even 1% of the pages Google covers.

Um, duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17857524)

The results you get from Google are tweaked by a number of factors, and at the end of the day the company has complete control over what rises to the top.

And tell me exactly how this is different than any news site, non-Google search engine, etc. on the Internet (or tv, or print media)?

-M

For whom do you speak? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858212)

"While the general image of Google is still that it 'does no evil'"

Bullshit [slashdot.org] .

People Have Given Google Too Much Power (1)

Asphalt (529464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17858580)

At least that is my honest opinion.

Gone are the days that people used 99% of their time to work on content. Now in some cases it's 50% content, and 50% kissing Google's ass in some SEO-optimizing obsessive compulsive way to get on the main page.

And it's just one search engine. A search engine with a nearly $100 Billion market capitalization. Who know has a "terms of service" that makes people alter their content to please Google. And people find this sane.

People's 'net worth are now being determined by Google, and people are worried about being "caught" by Google or displeasing Google.

What happened?

10 years ago this would have been seen as an aberration, and people would have thumbed their nose at it. I remember when Google was a cluster of free OS servers that was the alternative to the omni-present Yahoo, and everyone was refreshed by the alternative.

Now look at us. Clamoring to climb to the top of some site page by tweaking our websites in any number of unnatural ways ... and in my opinion, content has suffered because of it. The best content does not always get your site listed the highest, the most "optimized" site does.

And over the years, I have found the searches less and less and less relevant. I know sites that are the authority on their subject that appear on the 10th page because they concentrate only on content instead of wringing their hands over what Google's bot thinks of them.

It's a shame that we have gotten to this point.

I am aware that it sounds like blasphemy, but Google is now probably my 3rd or 4th engine, well behind *gasp* Microsoft's Live Search which seems to crawl much more frequently and update databases much more often.

Google only has as much power as we give it.

I think we have given it far too much.

I think it is negatively impacting content.

This is only my opinion, and I will get off my soapbox now.

I am off to Search Engine Optimize a site of questionable content ... time that could be much better spent by making better content.

Such is the state of the web in 2007.

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