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Social responsibility of search engines
We need a new forum
Everyman



 
Msg#: 504 posted 11:59 pm on Apr 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Your search - "social responsibility of search engines" - did not match any documents.
Your search - "search engines and social responsibility" - did not match any documents.

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_____________________________

Here's another suggestion: Let's start talking about the issue.

Most of my rants about Google are because Google evolved to number one due to a fluke of history. It came along with a semi-workable algorithm that looked great, just as the other engines were crashing and burning as portals, along with all the other dot-com carnage.

Google is great, but they are great mainly by default. Their algo is not super good, compared to what's possible, but it sure made AltaVista and others look bad. Mostly, it was Google's timing that was great.

The bigger Google gets, the more important it becomes for me to emphasize that search engines have social responsibilities. If there were a forum for people like me, my comments could be more general and not aimed at Google all the time.

Search engines perform a vital function in modern society. They are much more important today than they were several years ago, and it looks like this will continue. No one can deny that the public sector has a valid interest in their behavior. I rather like the model of FAST/Alltheweb, where the engine that does the crawling and provides the SERPs is one step removed from, for example, a Lycos, which is more portal-oriented. Even FAST isn't the answer, because they aren't nonprofit either. But being in Norway, at least they don't seem as hungry as American entrepreneurs.

Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government. Or at least they ought to belong to the American Library Association, or something similar. They should have a strong public interest; even stronger than the "Chinese wall" that is supposed to separate the op-ed, news reporting, and advertising functions in the journalism business, and that expects that obvious conflicts-of-interest are disclosed.

It won't happen in our lifetimes -- the globalists who are closest to forming a global government are currently more like the directors of Enron, than they are like the librarian civil servants I have in mind. But at least we can raise the issue.

The Internet is struggling with all this stuff. It's too new to have a public-interest tradition. And most difficult of all, it's not geographically specific, and the laws of many nations either apply too often or don't apply at all.

The merger of paid SERPs with objective algorithm SERPs is one example of an area that suggests public standards should be applied. There are important privacy issues regarding the records that a search engine keeps, and its use of cookies with unique IDs, and whether the public has a right to expect that a model search engine should destroy their logs after 30 days or so. There are cache and copyright issues.

What would make this new forum different is that you wouldn't get posters who are trying to sell more widgets, or whose perspective on something like Google is dependent on whether their referrals are up or down. This would be a forum on the social ethics of search engines and/or websites, quite distinct from the commercial aspects of SEO and webmastering.

No one is doing it, and it needs to be done.

 

mivox

WebmasterWorld Senior Member mivox us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 12:11 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government. Or at least they ought to belong to the American Library Association, or something similar. They should have a strong public interest; even stronger than the "Chinese wall" that is supposed to separate the op-ed, news reporting, and advertising functions in the journalism business, and that expects that obvious conflicts-of-interest are disclosed.

I wonder if it would be possible to find appropriate grants to fund a project like that? Why waste time chit chatting in a forum about it, if it could actually be done?

OK, having the project "adopted" by the UN as an official NGO or something like that may be a stretch at first, but perhaps someone like the ALA or the ACLU would hop on board with some kind of support?

Has anyone looked into this sort of project, from a non-commercial/non-profit kind of angle?

JustTrying

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 12:39 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sometimes I sit back and just wonder what amazing things search engines will be able to do in five years; and how great their algorithims will be. Then I fix myself a sandwich.

Everyman



 
Msg#: 504 posted 1:19 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

forum chit chat --> pundits have easy access to state-of-the-art discussions

more intelligent media --> more public awareness

more public awareness --> smarter foundation managers

smarter foundations --> more potential money

more potential money --> universities and computer science departments involved

Big U technical chops --> impressive grant proposals

fat grants --> sponsorship by a consortium of universities

There are many variations on the above, but I think the level of awareness is so low now that any time spent in a forum, discussing the issues and sharing stickies and URLs about who might be interested, would be time well spent.

Even the possibility of such a non-commercial search engine emerging, places the behavior of present engines in an entirely different light, and implicitly holds them to a higher standard. And that's just a side benefit. Remember, it was the feds and the universities who started the Internet, and there are huge numbers of people who are qualified to do something even better than Google.

It couldn't happen during the dot-com gold rush, because everyone was rushing to the patent office to stake a silly software claim, and then to the Securities and Exchange Commission to file an IPO. Now I think the time is ripe at last, to begin raising the issue.

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 1:45 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Everyman, I'm all for the concept, but from a point of practical reality, there are those who consider their own poor rankings to be a political and social injustice. And many people are not very free from obligations to special interest groups. How would you envision moderating being done?

There are a lot of political, legal and ethical issues that need addressing before uninformed and overly biased legislation starts to creep in, as well as issues relating to social responsibility. I'm wondering about the impartiality of universities though, don't a lot of them receive corporate funding?

mivox

WebmasterWorld Senior Member mivox us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 1:51 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

the impartiality of universities

Depends... "research" universities are usually swimming in corporate $$. Little indpendent universities probably don't have much money to devote to a big project, but would have some slightly less 'beholden' mental resources to potentially contribute.

bird

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 1:54 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

How do you want to regulate a technology that hasn't even scratched the surface of it's possibilities yet? Sounds like an extremely dangerous version of utopia to me.

WebRookie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 2:11 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think you could consider having a forum about the future of search engines. This would include many different topics including the one mentioned above, broadening the issues a bit if it seems too focused on one area or new information. Bring up the issues and get an overview of what's coming up.

Just an idea.

Talking about it starts the process of discovery.

Everyman



 
Msg#: 504 posted 2:34 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

bird:

The possibilities for serving the public interest emerge in parallel with the possibilities of serving private interests. Both of these are driven by advances in hardware and software; the technology itself is not automatically partial to either interest.

The mere act of articulating the public interest, by speech or by example, does not preclude the development of technology for the private interest. I wouldn't call it "regulation" of a technology; I'd call it "recognition" of the social impact of a technology. In some extreme cases, such as keeping a list of everyone's search terms in a personally-identifiable format, over many years, and making this available for a price, or to a repressive government, there are technical possibilities that might be considered socially inadvisable. But I don't think making calls like this hamper the evolution of technology -- they merely hamper the abuse of technology.

Marcia:

It wouldn't have to be a university. UNESCO, a UN organization, might be an example of an organizational vehicle for this sort of thing. One of the international engineering standards bodies might be another example. The European Union might evolve it's own version of UNESCO-type organizations. The possibilities for this are probably greater in Europe than in the U.S. Anywhere you go you'll have for-profit corporations trying to get contracts, and bureaucrats trying to protect turf.

What do we have now to drive search engines to success? Pay-per-click for moving more widgets out the door? It's not hard to imagine a scenario that improves on this.

WebRookie:

Good idea! The "future of search engines and their role in society" should be in the charter for sure. I guess I like the "social responsibility" in the title for the increased PageRank (Goodness, I'm part of the problem!)

mivox

WebmasterWorld Senior Member mivox us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 4:13 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

How do you want to regulate a technology that hasn't even scratched the surface of it's possibilities yet? Sounds like an extremely dangerous version of utopia to me.

Who said "regulate" anywhere? Discuss the implications and possibly start a more "moral" alternative to the current commercially drivn model of search engine is what I heard, and I think that's a splendid idea.

Imagine if keeping track of and providing access to all the world's books was left entirely up to the booksellers? No public libraries anymore... it's all commercial now. Imagine what would be hidden, forgotten, lost, and unavailable due to local protest groups' picket lines... THAT is a much more dangerous idea, IMO.

victor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 7:33 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

> The bigger Google gets, the more important
> it becomes for me to emphasize that
> search engines have social responsibilities

We also need viable alternatives. A monolopies on how to find things on the web would be a bad thing.

I'll make an analogy here with GPS. It's great that the lovable Pentagon has given us all a way to find out where we are on earth. But some people are feel queasy that the same Pentagon has a finger on the GPS "fuzz" button.

So the europeans (lovable or otherwise) are building Galileo -- a GSP system, not run by the military and with no signal-degrade capacity. The world needs that too.

chiyo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member chiyo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 9:01 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

"...Imagine if keeping track of and providing access to all the world's books was left entirely up to the booksellers? .." Great point mivox. I think documentation of the Web is at an early stage. Publishing didnt havd the ISBN system until way after the first books were sold! Though some would argue that the domain naming system provides an automatic "ISBN" type system, there are some major differences, mainly due to the differences in the nature of the discplines. The similarity of course that the ISBN system does not help with promotion at all, - it is an admin system.

I think that we will see systems evolve. The move to PPC and commercial control of how what you can find on the net, is just hastening that evolution.

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 9:19 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Everyman>>>It won't happen in our lifetimes

Which is the reality of the expectation, at least for those of us who can remember conversations about the history of Tammany Hall.

Then Everyman goes on to say:

What would make this new forum different is that you wouldn't get posters who are trying to sell more widgets, or whose perspective on something like Google is dependent on whether their referrals are up or down. This would be a forum on the social ethics of search engines and/or websites, quite distinct from the commercial aspects of SEO and webmastering.

No one is doing it, and it needs to be done.

We're examining social responsibility of search engines, and the description is: "We need a new forum."

Is it possible that there would be enough individuals capable of detaching from their own self interests enough to be able to examine the issues and participate from an unbiased, socially responsible perspective?

brotherhood of LAN

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 504 posted 11:57 am on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I read the title and skipped the posts :) sorry have 8 windows open :)

I knew this thread would happen. People want neutrality in the fear that any one force (like Google) doesnt play by the "rules"

Ah authorities..hmmm its a tough call. Replace the net with red tape ;)

I view the Internet the same way as economics. If one force in economics (ie America) becomes much larger than the rest, over time it will even out. I think the same will happen here....no one is dependent on Google or any one part of the Internet, or country for that matter.

>Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government. Or at least they ought to belong to the American Library Association, or something similar. They should have a strong public interest; even stronger than the "Chinese wall" that is supposed to separate the op-ed, news reporting, and advertising functions in the journalism business, and that expects that obvious conflicts-of-interest are disclosed.

Why must geographical barriers be raised...if you emphasise the word America? I work on a science site, and you have "the national association of library teachers" etc who are capable of doing what you propose, if they do not partially already do so anyway.

Its an interesting topic, one that no doubt spawned from google tensions on previous threads :) I dont think I could trust one single entity to give direction to the Internet, its not what diversity is all about :)

Brad

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 2:11 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

>consider having a forum about the future of search engines.

I think WebRookie has it right here. I think there is room for talking about free market and also public service search engines and directories, both in theory and also reality.

I think the subject is timely because, as Brett has pointed out, the development costs of starting new search engines are dropping rapidly. As the startup cost becomes less, and scripts become available off-the-shelf, more SE's will begin development. It would be great to have a forum focused on the future instead of just the now, near term and "my site just tanked helphelp!" :)

I suspect the free market will generate many more new commercial SE's but there may also be room for a National Public Radio/Public Broadcasting System (and/or BBC/CBC) model too. That should be explored too.

john316

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 2:36 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

"Social responsibility of search engines"

Don't hold your breathe. All they need to do is borrow from the entertainment industry who loves to say "we are just a reflection of society not a shaper of society".

scareduck

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 7:19 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is one of the dumbest things I've heard lately. "Social responsibility" is code for "I want to use your money, and your servers, and your network bandwidth, in ways you don't want to. And I want to be able to force you to do this, in a court of law." A world government running such a thing? You've gotta be kidding! Who, exactly, would run such a government? Sweden? Hah! And how much insulation would the people opposing such an insane development have against this all-mighty and allegedly beneficent government? That is, what's to prevent such a government from pulling the DNS records of anyone exposing their graft and misdeeds? The first thing that happens would be it would get in the hands of some conniving grifter, or a power-mad dictator. One-world-government as a political philosophy has an appeal to people with badly arrested intellectual development. As they used to say in Rome, quis custodiet ipsos costodes? Who watches the watchmen?

brotherhood of LAN

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 504 posted 8:07 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Sweden

Whats wrong with Sweden? One the the most environmentally friendly countries in the world ;)

I think the question is definetely valid, just we dont have a good way of implementing it so that it has a positive effect.

JeremyL

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 8:29 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I will not use a search engine that calls itself "Social Responsibility". Why? Because who defines what socially responsible is? I want a search engine that indexes any and everything and leaves the choice up to me as to what I want to read or view. If something is illegal then it can be shutdown at the website host level. The search engines therefor should index everything that is hosted on the net.

bobriggs

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 8:36 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here goes my neck out on the chopping block, but I couldn't resist??

Social Responsibility for SE's? - A search engine is nothing but a collection of software running on a website, JUST LIKE YOURS AND MINE!!! Would you like to be regulated by someone? would you like someone to be telling you by law what you can and can't put up on your website?

For me, I'd like to put up what I'd like, but I'd like to have my OWN SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY!!! If people don't want to visit the site, FINE!

I do believe that the search engines here do have their own sense of responsibility - filtering of adult sites, for example. Another is spamming. But the responsibility comes from the users - they don't want the adult sites or spamming. This is all in the SE's best interests, and they do the best they can. So for the most part, I think most of the best of the SE's probably already have some kind of social responsibility. So, Regulate it? Why?

ALA? geeeze.

Well go ahead and let the NPR and ALA make up their own search engine. Please not with my tax dollars.

Free enterprise works. Whether you like it or not. REGULATE results in MORE REGULATE and that means even MORE REGULATION!

Go ahead and chop ;) ;)

bigjohnt

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 8:40 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree there should be A search engine or several with this "social responsibility" - to archive ALL available information, and accurately deliver results (within the constraints of ambiguous language.) Much like our library of congress, or even the american library system. However, to even THINK that a commercial venture would have to adhere to "socially responsible content delivery" is unacceptable to me. Not to mention utopian and unnattainable.
Commercial ventures in the real world, and online have to deal with these issues internally as business deicsions, and then answer to their audience - who vote with their feet, and by clicking their mouse.

I do however believe that an entrepreneur could be bold enough to attempt such a thing, and I am sure would very quickly, virally become a VERY popular search engine of the socially conscious crowd. Would it be viable? Who knows. The truly socially conscious are a tiny minority. :( But to suggest that SE's must be somehow regulated to deliver a socially responsible product is borderline consitutional. At least in America ;) ) One could argue that television and the film industry should also have this responsibility. They regulate themselves. And the market rules.
What the market buys is indeed the purest research available.

This entire concept is as old as the Gutenberg press, and has still not been resolved - who has the right to write what, who has the right to read it - and who determines what is socially responsible. Now we ask, who has the right to archive and distribute, and what is there responsibility indoing so?

It is really a personal/moral/ethical dilemma. Just as the evening news molds our views, based on what the networks think we should know.

JustTrying

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 9:14 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

bobriggs and bigjohnt are in my opinion exactly right on this issue. The entire concept of "socially responsibe" search engines is repugnant.

Just who are these "enlightened few" who will determine what is and is not "socially responsible?" ugh!

Why is it that those of the "enlightened socialist" persuassion are always so eager to take over whatever is good in the name of "social responsibility" so that they can make it better? If a SE or website doesn't share your view of "equity" or "righteousness" or "social consiousness" then don't use it; start your own utopian state-run search engine in Cuba or Vietnam or China and then sit back and watch your web-stats. If people want to use your "socially consious" SE, then they are more than welcome to.

vitaplease

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vitaplease us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 9:25 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I said it before [webmasterworld.com], when Google goes public the United Nations should take an important stake in it.

bird

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 9:47 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ok, so I made up the regulation bit as an automatic reflex to what I read in the first few posts. Sorry for that... ;)

It always amazes me how much blind trust a lot of people put into organizations with highly official sounding names. What makes you think that any of the bodies named (ALA, ACLU, the gubmint, UN, etc.) has the slightest idea about the results you would like to see when you type a few keywords into a search box? Those folks tend to have their own agendas, which often (but not always) contradict my own interests as well as yours.

Hmmm... This is the third thread today that brings the word "utopia" to my mind. Is there any weird astrological constellation going on this weekend?

Everyman



 
Msg#: 504 posted 10:05 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

To no one in particular:

This is not an issue of regulated search engines vs. unregulated search engines. Regulation is everywhere; it's not something that is automatically associated with government. Besides, who said anything about government being the preferred path toward social responsibility?

The fact remains that the governments of most of those who are reading this, like it or not, are more democratic than the average corporation. That's not to say that government is the best approach to a better search engine. I'm only saying that what we have now could be better when it comes to search engines.

Looking ahead over the next five years, who has the most power over your search engine referrals on your website, assuming that the reason for your website is to move more widgets out the door and make more profits?

In order, they are:

1) Microsoft
2) Google
3) Banks who authorize/regulate credit card use online
4) ICANN / Dept of Commerce / government in general

(I put Microsoft ahead of Google because Microsoft has enough money in the bank to buy Google 60 times over; I'm guessing that Google is worth about $500 million. So far Microsoft simply isn't that interested. Stay tuned....)

Now, who do you trust to be less invasive? Are you trying to make the case that Microsoft doesn't impose regulations? Is Google rule-free? Are banks going out of their way to make e-commerce easier and more secure, or are they disinterested until they can find a way to make it profitable for themselves? (Have you tried to get a merchant account at a bank, even if you are a nonprofit that's had all state and federal paperwork in order for 13 years now, and have been with that one bank for 8 years -- but you're just too small for the bank to care about, and you don't have a storefront?)

If you want information on what's happening that might affect your future, what rights do you have to get that information from Microsoft, from Google, or from the banks? How about from the Department of Commerce?

In any case, I'm not suggesting that search engines be required to do this or that. I'm only suggesting that this or that, currently done by certain search engines, is not done in the public interest. It's done to make more profits. Google can do what they want, obviously, to keep your widgets moving. I don't want to force Google to do anything at all, even if I had that kind of power. I want to theorize about another search engine that is designed to do something more edifying than moving your widgets. The future of the Internet depends on it, even if the future of your widget sales don't. I'm not proposing regulation, I'm proposing a discussion.

If your idea of the role of a search engine is to enhance your private profit, then say so. Don't accuse me of advocating repressive government regulation just because I talk about "social responsibility."

bobriggs

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 10:30 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

..FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government..

Uuh,, which government were you taking about?

mivox

WebmasterWorld Senior Member mivox us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 10:45 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm really baffled as to where this bizarre presumption of gov't regulation keeps coming in to it. Nobody is advocating gov't control of SE content or delivery, and all these vehement protests against "regulation" and "goverment control" bring the phrase "knee-jerk" to mind...

Thanks a lot for throwing THAT red herring into the discussion, bird. ;)

NOBODY IS ADVOCATING US GOV'T CONTROL OF SEARCH ENGINE TECHNOLOGY OR STANDARDS. Can we all quit hyperventilating long enough to let that soak in? The idea is that perhaps having the content of the internet catalogued solely by commercial enterprises is not such a good idea. Maybe Google, M$, et. al. don't have our best interests in mind any more than any of these evil GOVERNMENT people do...

There are such things as NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. They are not necessarily funded by anyone's tax dollars... They are not the slobbering lackeys of their corporate sponsors/advertisers... They are often operated by interested parties who work for sub-corporate salaries to press forward an idea they believe in. A non-corporate/non-governmental search engine/web catalogue could conceivably be run by such a group, no?

Or perhaps numerous such groups could spring up. Computer hardware is getting cheaper all the time, and most of the commercial search engines have (what a shocker) professional-quality indexing software solutions available at retail...

OHMIGAWD!!! But what if one of these non-profit groups doesn't support the SAME ideas YOU believe in? *GASP* Then don't use that group's search engine...

Again... I didn't hear anyone suggesting that the gov't should be regulating search engines. I didn't hear anyone suggesting that your precious tax dollars should be supporting their own untopian internet ideals. I heard the suggestion that there's room for improvement in the current 100% commercially-controlled selection of search services... and with the amount of complaining everyone does about the jobs that current SEs are doing, I don't see how anyone could argue that having a non-profit alternative available would be a bad thing.

bobriggs

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 11:00 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

There are such things as NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS. They are not necessarily funded by anyone's tax dollars... They are not the slobbering lackeys of their corporate sponsors/advertisers... They are often operated by interested parties who work for sub-corporate salaries to press forward an idea they believe in. A non-corporate/ non-governmental search engine/web catalogue could conceivably be run by such a group, no?

Nobody's stopping them. Nobody would complain. Go ahead.

I complain when I have to pay for it.

bird

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 504 posted 11:58 pm on Apr 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm afraid I have helped to guide this discussion off its intended path, but it seems as if this detour was already laid out in the way it started.

To get back on topic, let's imagine the ideal search facility. Let's ignore all the sidetracks about who would design, program, fund, or regulate that thing for the moment. Just tell me in understandable terms what that ideal search facility would do better than the good search engines and directories of today. And let's avoid comparisons with the obviously tainted "advertizing engines" like MSN, LS, Overture, and (increasingly) Yahoo. Those are no yardstick.

If we take the best that is currently available, and try to figure out how it could be made better, then this leads to the following questions:

What makes eg. Google a socially irresponsible search engine, and how could it be turned into a socially responsible one? What (if anything) makes FAST better in that regard?
Who decides about the social standards that a search engine should be measured against? (Remember here that US citicens are currently becoming a minority on the internet, which will soon be the case for all of the western world together.)
How can a "consortium of librarians" run a search facility better than the developers who have written the thing (or a huge number of non-librarian volunteers)?
How can the search operation be seperated from the advertizing department more strongly than it is currently the case at Google (or at the ODP, which has no advertizers at all)?

I don't really expect any good answers to the above questions. If you take the best that is currently available, and then say "but I want it better", then you're inevitably heading for the realm of pure speculation and utopia. And if you expect any large organization to answer them for you, then your arguments become even more questionable.

Great things usually aren't "designed by committee", they are conceived and realized by small groups of very dedicated and talented individuals, even if they need to recruit armies of helpers in doing so. It is no coincidence that this is exactly the case for pretty much all the top search facilities on the internet of today, and even for some that are beyond their best days.

Everyman



 
Msg#: 504 posted 3:01 am on Apr 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

bird says:
"Just tell me in understandable terms what that ideal search facility would do better than the good search engines and directories of today."

This does not take too much imagination. I just spent 15 minutes on a wish list. Anyone have anything to add?

> No ads
> No adult-only material
> No image searches
> No caching without opt-in
> No branding on top of cached copy
> No cookies without opt-in
> All logs destroyed after 30 days

> Much reduced link pop algo
> All link pop takes back seat to content/theme/information-value algos
> Published algos
> Published criteria for spam threshold
> Human review process for spam suspects
> Coherent process for turning in spam
> Appeal process for spammers
> Probation for sites readmitted

> Encourage more coherence in top-level-domains
> Ranking penalty for TLDs that are out of character

> Improved robots.txt standard with many more options
> Meta and robots.txt structure for flagging what sort of site you have
> On main search page, click the type of page you're looking for

> No spasmodic crawling -- make it smooth and draw it out
> Check robots.txt once per day on site being crawled
> Published criteria for what files get crawled
> Deep sites get crawled all the way; it merely takes longer
> Owner can flag site as "Fresh" or "Regular"
> "Fresh" sites get crawled more frequently, but not as deep

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