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The Google "Death Penalty"
Dave Winer and a Harvard Law blogger
tedster




msg:126804
 7:12 am on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dave Winer has set up shop for a while over in Cambridge, MA, helping guide Harvard into the world of blogging. While he continues his regular blog at scriptingnews, he's also begun a Harvard blog.

In his Harvard Law blog today, Winer publishes some information from Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain. This is interview information that the NYTimes chose not to print in its article on Sunday [nytimes.com].

Interesting comments - we all know about the Google Spam "death penalty", but following the links to the DMCA removals on ChillingEffects can be quite illuminating.

Jonathan Zittrain:
This "Google death penalty" can happen whenever Google feels like it; so far as I can tell, it's reserved for either those that Google believes have been trying to game its rankings, or those for whom it fears legal liability for listing. The latter category is larger than many people realize.

Full Article [blogs.law.harvard.edu]


 

Brad




msg:126805
 11:42 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I had not thought of the ICANN parallel. It is a thoughtful summation of some of the issues. Good article.

rfgdxm1




msg:126806
 11:54 pm on Apr 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Makes me wonder if Zittrain has read Webmasterworld? I have long used the term "Google Death Penalty" on these boards, and I can't find an instance searching Google where someone used that exact term before me. Of course, he could have thought it up independently, but curious.

I'd also be curious as to how Google is acting on DMCA complaints? At most they should have to remove just the alleged infringements. Also, the way I interpret the DMCA Google at most should just be eliminating the cache of that page. Just linking to a copyright infringement is NOT a copyright infringement.

GoogleGuy




msg:126807
 3:14 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Our DMCA policy is pretty clear. You can read all about it here:
[google.com...]

We've refined our policies over time (e.g. we added a section about counter-notification so that people can learn how they can easily contest a DMCA claim). We're the only search engine that I know of that started providing all of our DMCA notices to a third party (chillingeffects.org), so people know what urls we've been compelled to remove. When a search would have brought up a result that we can't show because of the DMCA, we note it at the bottom of that search page and provide a link to the relevant DMCA notice at chillingeffects.org, so users can find out more information.

I understand and appreciate Zittrain's point. Google has grown quickly, and while we've always tried to do the right thing for our users, it's good to get continuous feedback on how we're doing. I appreciate the work that Edelman, Zittrain, and others do to help keep Google on track and make sure that we do the right thing.

If I had to pick one point to raise, it would be this: people seem to compare Google to the ideal and criticize when things aren't perfect, while a lot of other sites seem to get off the hook more easily. :) I'd stack our DMCA process up against any other search engine, for example. Meanwhile, I heard that one recent study of typical Internet users showed that an amazing percentage of users didn't know about pay-for-placement--and they were pretty angry when they found out about it. Sometimes I feel like Google gets picked on more than most sites, but that's just on the bad days (anyone see the new Register article where Orlowski claims Larry and Sergey never went to Burning Man? ;). On most days, I'm glad that people scrutinize us closely--it helps us make sure we do the right thing.

NotePad




msg:126808
 3:51 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well for what it's worth, i thing the big G has the right to do as it sees fit in these cases and this 'psuedo intellectual' is pissing into the wind...

if this post is deleted i will take that as my cue not to participate here

[edited by: NotePad at 4:00 am (utc) on April 16, 2003]

rfgdxm1




msg:126809
 3:55 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>anyone see the new Register article where Orlowski claims Larry and Sergey never went to Burning Man?

Actually, he says he doesn't believe it, not that he has proof it didn't happen. Although, I'd have to wonder why he doesn't believe it? I'd think Google would want to keep this secret, given that Burning Man has a reputation to many as being just an illegal drug orgy.

BigDave




msg:126810
 4:10 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

I guess this means I should stop going to burningman then, since I don't even drink.

I'm glad there's a company where they admit to it. And I think an office building without phones is a great idea. If people don't know how to use e-mail, I probably don't want to hear from them anyway.

rfgdxm1




msg:126811
 4:42 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>I guess this means I should stop going to burningman then, since I don't even drink.

You deny that large amounts of drugs are consumed at Burning Man? Sure, many straight edgers also go there, but it does have a notorious reputation for drugs. That Register article even plays up this aspect of Burning Man. My guess is that Larry and Sergey will never admit using drug if they do. Although, Bill Gates in the Playboy interview admitted to once using LSD.

BigDave




msg:126812
 5:01 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nope, I don't deny that they are used there. But I personally think that most people go there for other reasons and if they choose to us the drugs, that is just part of the experience.

I think more people get wound up about all the people walking around nekkid than the drug use.

And if they came up with the the idea for Google while tripping at Burningman, I vote that we give them some more. The truth is that no one really cares about what they do in their private lives.

<added> I'm not saying that they did come up with Google at Burningman or that they took any drugs in the process. I just have no problems with anyone taking any drug as long as they don't operate any equipment that they shouldn't when they are high. Just my personal opinion.</added>

rfgdxm1




msg:126813
 5:24 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

>But I personally think that most people go there for other reasons and if they choose to us the drugs, that is just part of the experience.

Well, unless someone couldn't score drugs anywhere else but Burning Man, it wouldn't make sense to go there just for the drugs.

>The truth is that no one really cares about what they do in their private lives.

You forget there are ultraconservatives out there who might choose to use another search engine if they knew the founders went to a festival where lots of people walk around nekkid and use drugs. Because of this, I can't imagine Google would lie about this if it weren't true.

tedster




msg:126814
 5:35 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy: ...people seem to compare Google to the ideal and criticize when things aren't perfect, while a lot of other sites seem to get off the hook more easily.

Yes, I've thought this as well. It's a characteristic of human consciousness to exalt someone in a sort of "man in the middle" ritual, and then turn around and attack. It was done in ancient rites of renewal where kings were revered, then sacrificed and replaced. We don't do it that blatantly any more, but the tendency is there. Savvy leaders have often kept people's eye on another target, least the mass unconscious turn on them.

But on a less cosmic level, Google's success has brought a level of responsibility - Google controls a huge amount of the world's access to information. So I'm glad to hear that you welcome the watchdogs - you're right, you do need them. And I'd like to see major search engines stay clear of "common carrier" regulation for as long as possible.

Whenever any resource becomes over concentrated, that spot can be a great vulnerability to the whole, and Google is becoming such a focus -- and such a potential vulnerability.

Just look at Microsoft's history for a parallel. Their software became a major concentration of the entire world's data resources. As this happened, we saw their detractors grow, as well as those who target their creations and demonstrate our collective vulnerability for being so concentrated in one "place".

I think the critics comes with the territory of being a mega-resource. How to grow and keep yourself out of the bullseye, that's the question, isn't it?

Liane




msg:126815
 6:00 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Oh puhleeeease! I am ultra-conservative by all accounts and was (in a former life) a novitiate nun as well! I also did drugs when I was a 16 and have never touched them since. Not many times, but I did it. I tried grass, hash and LSD/acid. (It was 1969 ... the "psychodelic" era). Curiosity and pier pressure proved to be powerful influences! However, I discovered that I simply didn't like not being in control of myself.

I say, "who cares". Sergey and Larry's accomplishment/brainchild (Google) speaks for itself. They have created a marvelous tool which has changed the world as we know it. No small feat!

GoogleGuy, take heart in the thought that some of us view Google as a "human" organization and not necessarily an ideal or some kind of icon held up to close scrutiny on an idealistic level.

Google is what it is ... a corporation made up of quite brilliant people doing their best to provide the best possible search instrument for the masses.

You can please some people all of the time and all of of the people some of the time ... but you can't please all of the people all of the time! ;)

Google is doing a wonderful job and there will always be detractors who cannot (or will not) accept flaws in any system. Pay attention to what they say, as there may be a modicum of truth in their complaint(s) ... but never, never take it personally.

GoogleGuy




msg:126816
 6:39 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Very well said, Liane. I'm tempted to print out your post and tedster's post and keep them in my office somewhere.

As far as Burning Man goes, it's not a hard thing to fact check with google burning man or the founders names, etc. :) Burning Man seems like the sort of thing everybody ought to try once. :)

vitaplease




msg:126817
 6:53 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

..people seem to compare Google to the ideal and criticize when things aren't perfect,..

Googleguy, "was sich liebt das neckt sich" one says in german, and through google search I found this translation: "easily finding a fault with a beloved one" ;).

From the mentioned NY-times article:

"They're the traffic cop at the main intersection of the information society," said Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. "They have an awesome responsibility."

Google states [google.com]: Google's mission is to deliver the best search experience on the Internet by making the world's information universally accessible and useful.

You've achieved the first part of your mission, while getting there with the second part, the responsibility comes with it.

Meanwhile, I heard that one recent study of typical Internet users showed that an amazing percentage of users didn't know about pay-for-placement--and they were pretty angry when they found out about it.

Did you do a check how many people think the premium listings are regular search results? (certainly on a laptop).

GoogleGuy




msg:126818
 8:06 am on Apr 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yup, vitaplease, I agree. As Spiderman might say: with power comes responsibility. We don't take our job lightly. Makes it kinda stressful sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it.

About the ads, I think we actually did make them a little darker around the beginning of this year. People don't always notice the small/good things. :)

Okay, off to bed with me..

Jane_Doe




msg:126819
 6:08 am on Apr 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

They have created a marvelous tool which has changed the world as we know it. No small feat!

I agree. In all seriousness, I might be dead without Google. We have a lot of odd health problems in my family, and there have been countless times when doctors had no clue as to what was wrong with me or my kids, yet we often found the answer ourselves on Google.

Everything I find out that works for our health issues, I put on one of my web sites, which in turn has helped a lot of other people with similar health problems. I've gotten literally thousands of really nice emails from people over the years thanking me for the information on my site. Yet, if it wasn't for Google and the other search engines, those people never would have found my site in the first place.

It's easy to for people to criticize Google and take it for granted these days, but I personally can't imagine going back to life without Google.

Jane

"The dissemination of knowledge is one of the cornerstones of civilization." John F. Budd

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