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Our own Everyman is on Salon!
Haven't seen anyone else mention it, so I thought I'd point out that our own Everyman has an article in Salon today. The story has also been mentioned on geeknews and Slashdot.
The user comments are pretty negative, so I'll try to pull the balance back the other way. I always appreciate hearing Everyman's perspective, even though we've got different views of some things, e.g. how Google ranks internal pages from a site; I think we do a good job of that. If you haven't read Everyman's "search engines and responsibility" thread and his google-watch.org site, I encourage you to. That said, I do disagree with statements like "Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government." :)
Anybody have thoughts on the Salon article?
I don't agree with everything Everyman has to say although I do believe he's on to something with the cookie issue and (not mentioned) toolbar data and use. In any case, I respect his decision to fight in what he believes in. In fact, I wish to thank him for his efforts.
You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but... unless you are all things to all people, some people just aren't gonna like you. That's about as simple as it gets. Fortunately, it isn't against the law to have an unpopular or contrary opinion. That's pretty much what democracy is. That said, Everyman has his right to his opinions.
GoogleGuy- you can't be number one without basking in the heat from time to time :) Just roll with the punches.
<added>Everyman still shows a lot of guts for voicing his opinion</added>
You've said it before GoogleGuy, we're quick around here.
Yah, I'm glad to have Everyman around here too, Key_Master. WebmasterWorld is great from the standpoint of having so many voices together in one place. :)
oOoOooOoOoo well if it wern't for those privacy groups and everything else people may get out of hand, although I find that much of their thoughts as so one sided I do agree with some of the causes they are promoting.
The article is one of those things, picks out some of googles issues some many people dont care about that google takes advantage of but hey, a good way for PR, negitive press gets further in the news than good news.
Well Normal TV is different than Tech news i guess, the nerds enjoy seeing the good crap while the people who feed off of tv watch for the bad news. hMmm i like chicken.
I agree 100% with his statement below, and I think it is the key to Google's survival as the #1 search engine.
|The first step is to stop reporting PageRank on the toolbar. This would mute the awareness of PageRank among optimizers and webmasters, and remove some of the bizarre effects that such awareness has engendered. |
I understand what Everyman is saying, especially the parts about the difficulty of getting that first toehold so that you're not completely buried in search results. But that's not just a feature of Google, it's a feature of the Web itself. It seems like Everyman (at least in the Salon article--I can't get on his site) puts too much emphasis on getting high results for very general queries--there's no way to satisfy everybody making a general query, because each user is probably looking for something different.
On the other hand, the more refined the query is, the less important ranking becomes. Page Rank doesn't exist in a vacuum--it only really matters in relation to the other results given for a specific query. Sometimes all the obsession with Page Rank seems a bit silly. (And on that point, I can sympathize Everyman's idea of getting rid of the tool bar and hiding the actual PR number from everyone.)
I hope, in the future, the direction will be more towards finding ways to allow even casual users to easily create more refined queries. Honestly, I'm not sure how it would work--none of the systems I've seen (like the result categorization that several SE's have tried) has been really satisfactory; but if the emphasis could be shifted a bit more towards query-construction instead of ranking, users would be able to get closer to what they're looking for without having to rely so much on SE algorithms. I believe there'd be a lot less distortion of content just for ranking purposes. I realize that advanced query technologies might be computationally expensive, but so are PR calculations.
I don't agree that removing PR from the toolbar is "key to Google's survival," but I do think that its presence there promotes the mistaken idea that PR is the only thing that matters in ranking at Google.
Really it work the other way, though: the fact that PageRank is easily displayed makes it clear that there are any number of examples of serps where some pages are ranked above others that have a higher PageRank.
|the fact that PageRank is easily displayed makes it clear that there are any number of examples of serps where some pages are ranked above others that have a higher PageRank. |
While this statement is true, it is also true that Google is the most relevant search engine mainly because of Page Rank. This is what sets their results apart from all the other. As the natural linking structure of the Internet changes because webmasters try to increase their rankings in Google, the relevancy will go down, and so will Google's popularity.
Just read the article. It will be interesting to see what happens to those who "sell PageRank."
PageRank is like Capitalism. Those with the capital invest in your site by linking to you if they think that your site is a good investment of their capital. If your site is not a good investment, then you will attract very little investment capital (links).
Google is a marketplace in that it identifies what the larger numbers of website owners deem to be of value. If a lot of people think something is of value, then it probably is to many poeple (though not to everyone). Is this the only way to identify value? No. Will some sites of value be missed by this approach? Sure. PageRank works fine for me. I can find what I want fast when I need to. And on the few occasions when I don't, I know how to dig deeper.
The Have-nots of the world will always complain about what they Have-not, whether its PageRank or money.. If you want something, study and learn how to get it. Those who would regulate others so that they can then Have-more just haven't exercised their brain enough to figure out how to Have-more.
>"Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government."
I too couldn't disagree with this more Googleguy. Google is popular because it works well. And it will continue to be popular unless or until someone else figures out a better way to run a search engine that gives people what they want. If Google ever slacks off and this happens, then a new player will emerge as it should. The market works in business and in search. If you don't like your results, figure out how to make them better. There's always a way.
The article makes him sound more like a cry-baby than someone taking a stand against a mighty foe.
So his site doesn't rank well for all his keywords, and he's done "a lot of work" on his site.
There are many sites that should be ranked high, that aren't.
We all have to just deal with it. Try another engine, better luck elsewhere.
He does seem to have a point with some of the privacy issues, but thats a whole other debate.
Hey - BTW - I am having trouble getting a couple "great" sites of mine listed into the Open Directory.
Does anyone want to join me in starting www.dmoz-watch-those-commie-jerks.com??? (j/k) :)
How about we all call our congressmen and ask for a world tax to start www.one-world-socialist-government-search.com to help out the needy PageRank Have-nots?
... on second thought maybe www.one-world-socialist-government-search.org would be more PC.
Let's try not to get into politics and lose this thread altogether to side-tracking, people. egomaniac, the crux of the point you made is that the public has made a visible choice as to who's got the search results they choose to use, which is exactly what's happened. If another becomes equal or better, the public will shift. That's how it works, and Google can't be expected to go contrary to what's established, that's apparently the public's choice, to please any one person. It's out of the realm of reality for that to even be suggested.
|That said, I do disagree with statements like "Eventually, a FAST-type engine should be administered by a consortium of librarians who are protected civil servants of a world government. |
Anybody have thoughts on the Salon article?
I would hate to see a master, government sponsored search engine. My experience with Google has been the opposite of Everymans. I have a site on alternative health topics that does well in Google because of the growing interest in holisitic health in the U.S., so the site gets lots of links and ranks well. If I had to go through some government employee to get my site listed in a search engine, I doubt I'd ever get listed at all because my ideas go against the grain of the conventional medical establishment and are contrary to the advice on government health sites.
Dr. Roger J. Williams wrote that when science becomes orthodoxy, it ceases to be science. If web sites were approved or dispproved by government employees, all we'd ever be exposed to on a given subject would be government othodoxy.
Having said that, I respect Everyman for his opinions and actions, even if I don't personally agree with all of them. It's pretty cool the way he got the CIA to change their web site. We need watchdogs like Everyman to make up for the politically complacent slugs like me in the world and to counterbalance the anti-privacy actions of some areas of the government.
Ok when I got to the second page I was laughing pretty hard when I read the part where the person said he wants his names to show up at the top. Sorry buddy not everyone can have their ship stay afloat. hehehe im crying with you ;) btw when i search for my own name on the search engine my own site doesnt come up instead a book i wrote for. :/ heheh
|brotherhood of LAN|
Pagerank aside and more along the lines of "anti-google".....
I can relate to everymans approach, though maybe not his solutions....I try not to read too deep into it :)
In the end, if google were to go "public" and financially benefit from spidering other-peoples-copyrighted-information......then I think people have grounds to be "anti-google" with ethics in mind :)
Otherwise I think google is doing a great job. Sure, pagerank may not be the perfect solution, but its the best one out there - which has been said and known for quite a while.
"In the end, if google were to go "public" and financially benefit from spidering other-peoples-copyrighted-information......then I think people have grounds to be "anti-google" with ethics in mind"
I don't understand this comment.. Google makes money regardless if their public or not.. Besides every other major SE is already public..
|brotherhood of LAN|
Well, maybe they're already crossing the line ;)
That IPO that was talked about (sorry, not familiar with IPO's) would require shareholders money yes?
Google has shown us that they can run an efficient search engine that is possible with X amount of resources.
IMHO, shareholders would be interested in the sort of information that Everyman mentions, like, who searches for what etc etc etc.
It would seem the effectiveness of pagerank is dependent on their current hardware and how fast they can crawl and process their results? Also, pagerank wouldn't matter if the websites available to google refused to be crawled.
So, either way, google would be aiming to meet shareholders needs while at the same time banning the very same sites that provide google with its results.
Makes the ethics issue cloudy for me- but I appreciate google is just another business that needs capital.
Everyman is saying pagerank is undemocratic....I guess I'm saying humbly that Google,shareholders and ethics don't mix
and the whole idea of people manipulating pagerank IMO falls in between everymans and googles view on the spectrum of things. G needs websites, websites need pagerank and visitors.
If they bring in the shareholders, the resources they have to execute their pagerank algo will be dependent on the money they get from shareholders.
|I would hate to see a master, government sponsored search engine. (...snip...) If I had to go through some government employee to get my site listed in a search engine, I doubt I'd ever get listed at all... |
Personally, I don't see what the problem is with the idea of a non-commercial 'library' search engine. It's not like he's arguing for shutting down all commercial search engines and making a gov't sposored search service your only option... that would be silly.
If you want a book today, you can choose whether to look in a bookstore or a library. The government does not forbid books on alternate topics from appearing in libraries... in most cases, if a book is donated to a library, it goes on the shelves without any kind of content review beyond what's necessary to properly catalogue it.
The idea of a search service administered by a body of librarians, without any kind of commercial interest, governed by an international organization is precisely to avoid the kind of arbitrary exclusion you're talking about. The administrators wouldn't be beholden to any national government, and wouldn't be reading site content against any kind of political content litmus test prior to inclusion. Their only role would be to analyse the site's content in order to categorize it accurately.
A library often has a wider range of alternative materials than the local commercial bookstore, simply because many books on alternative, unpopular topics, or published by a press without the funds necessary to make a big commercial promotional effort may never make it to the shelves of the bookseller. That's the idea here... a comprehensive international catalogue of internet content un-swayed by commercial OR political interests.
...which may be an impossibly huge task, but that's another debate altogether.
|The idea of a search service administered by a body of librarians, without any kind of commercial interest, governed by an international organization is precisely to avoid the kind of arbitrary exclusion you're talking about. |
I just got an email yesterday from a librarian that my site on a particular health topic was "rejected for including unsuitable material" (her words exactly) for their online health directory. The site she rejected is listed in DMOZ, has a number of external links from high ranking web sites and it is one of Directhit's top ten most popular sites for its topic. It doesn't have any gaming or porn references. It's just about the benefits of proper nutrition, yoga and posture for a particular disorder, so by default one or all of those topics must be the "unsuitable material" she referred to. When I worry about abitrary site exclusion by librarians I'm speaking based on my actual experiences.
An online government sponsored search engine would still have to have a method of prioritizing which sites were returned for a given search term. If the librarians didn't prioritize the results manually, then you'd have to have programmed algorithms to do the task which, just brings you back to what Google has already.
I just got an email yesterday from a librarian that my site on a particular health topic was "rejected for including unsuitable material" (her words exactly) for their online health directory.
Presumably, a topic-specific directory is going to have much more specific and stringent inclusion standards than a general all-encompassing internet index would.... and with health sites, I can certainly sympathise with their fears of including non-traditional advice, with the danger/fear of liability lawsuits.
If the stated purpose of such an engine was to comprehensively index internet content, it would be antithetical to its goals to even have standards of "unsuitable material," wouldn't it? But seeing as the engine inquestion does not exist, and considering I'd likely have zero say over anything if it were ever formed... it's all theoretical.
I'm just saying that a comprehensive index that actually acted according to the stated goals and ideals of this particular idea would certainly not exclude alternative content.
Like most things Everyman is not totally wrong and not totally right either. (How's that for wishy-washy?) :)
While on the one hand I think Google bears watching I am not convinced they are the evil empire either. I think we are way out of balance in our fixation with Google, but I also think we need to get some other search engines some market share.
I respect Everyman's willingness to speak his mind and stick to his guns. It would be easy to just go with the flow, but instead he is willing to bring up some interesting points even in the face of ridicule. I have thought it would be interesting if Everyman did start his own directory and just see what he comes up with. I think both he and we might learn some valuable things in such an experiment. :)
If you want cold war era paranoia, think about what your isp knows about you. Much of that is easily accessible by applicable parties.
KeyMaster has it correct to turn the discussion to other issues more significant than cookies.
Toolbar. It's ability to track and monitor people habits is second only to a keystroke logger.
Caching. It is not right to use other peoples work without prior permission. I can't help but notice Google does not allow people to use it's pages without prior permission. It is the one aspect of Google I find troubling. If they are willing to overlook simple common sense business practice on an issue this large, how can we not consider that on other issues? It's a litmus test.
So I agree that all is not happy shiny in Googleland. I'm also glad some are looking after the issues. Companies do change. Googles explosive growth has a set of pressures that would be hard for most of us to appreciate and understand. Attempting to push forward while being the one on the hot seat is not easy - you get everyones best shot.
Agrees with Jane_Doe. Perfectly reasoned argument, she has. Maybe Jane will care to partner with me in my latest venture: Anarchists-United-To-Overthrow-The-Orthodoxy.org. ;)
|Caching. It's simply not right to use other peoples work without prior permission. |
That's a tough call, and I doubt it'll ever be resolved unless some company's got some major time and money or a large group gets together and starts a class action suit. On the one hand, they don't specifically ask for permission, yet on the other hand, their bot identifies itself and logs a URL telling you exactly how to stop if from caching your content. It is, though, rather like calling a stranger up from his own car phone and saying, "I borrowed your car, but if you tell me you don't want me to, I'll have it back to you next month when I'm passing through town."
The benefits of caching, for me anyway, are numerous. On many pages on my site there is just so much info or the information moves so quickly down the list that by the time it's in google's index, it's on another page. Caching and highlighting allows for visitors to scroll through and easily find the information they want (or, more likely, the link to the information they want on my site).
Overall, it still gets me worst with the whole "getting folks to link to you" thing. Google has created a frenzy and gotten it to the point where people are pulling out slide rules and barometers and spending two hours or more deciding if a link request is worthy. Gone are they days of "Hey, that's a cool site and it'd go well on my Links to Other Widget Sites page."
PageRank might not be ideal, but the bottom line is that some sites have to rank higher than others. It takes a more talented spammer (as defined by anyone trying to manipulate results) to top the Google charts than an engine like Ink.
If every site was on an equal footing every month in every search, how could a search engine could be any good unless they rebuilt the algo before every crawl. Even then, an algorithm needs to be tweaked so the results wouldn't amount to much with a new algo for each crawl. IMHO it is simply impossible to give every site an equal shot every time.
|Googles explosive growth has a set of pressures that would be hard for most of us to appreciate and understand. |
I couldn't agree more with that statement. Quality search results are what have given Google the success its had thus far. AdWords provides a means to support that loss leader. Bring public capital markets into the picture via IPO and those shareholders will want to extract the maximum amount of $$$ from Google. Traditional economics ignores anything that doesn't appear on a balance sheet. The value of a top notch search engine to those that use it is worth far more in value that can't be quantified than they could ever make by selling out the results.
If the search results go up for sale in some way. Shareholders will be all bubbly and happy as the cash starts flowing in for a time. Everyone at the plex could probably cash out nicely at the end of the lockup period, but very shortly thereafter one of the few places to find relatively unfiltered info would turn into one big ad like so many other engines out there. It could probably still turn a profit, maybe for many years to come but it would be no diffeent from LookSmart, MSN or any of the others that put shareholder value before usefulness, freedom of info, and the importance of "public resources".
Google isn't perfect but given the circumstances they do a very good balancing act.
Responding to skibum's 4th paragraph in its entirety...
|If the search results go up for sale... |
Yeah, let's fervently hope that the MBAs at the 'plex keep a sign in plain view reading, "Remember AltaVista" - A cautionary tale if ever there was one!
About PageRank: After reading about and using display:none; (and z-index:+1;) and seeing that even Netscape 4.7 supports the former, I think on-page content shouldn't count too much. It's just too easy to hide or rearrange "content". That leaves anchor text of external pages and, yes, PageRank.
About cookies: I never had to accept a single cookie to use Google. Simply delete the cookie if it feels uncomfortable. I accepted some cookies from answers.google.com and iirc, they used "Only sent to creator" and "Secure". Hardly any bank is that much concerned about security!
About the future: Maybe we will see some P2P search engines. I think I read about a patent for this. But the implications for privacy (and spam) might even be bigger (just think RIAA).
<edited: disable graphic smile faces for this post>
[edited by: luma at 10:36 pm (utc) on Aug. 29, 2002]
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