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This 310 message thread spans 11 pages: < < 310 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 11 > >     
Social Factors - the End of Most Intelligent Content On The Web

 8:47 pm on May 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see that Google is now using social signals in their SERPS, and I'm quite stunned, in part as a business and also as a search consumer.

This is the single most evil thing I've seen in terms of its impact, if in fact social signals (in essence a measure of POPULARITY, not quality) play anything but a minor role in SERPS.

As social factors increase in importance, the point of creating original, thought leading, anything OTHER than simple mass content is removed.

The reality is that social media is a popular medium focuses on people (not a bad thing in itself), rather than content. The vast majority of the best and brightest in terms of subject matter experts in many niches, simply are NOT spending time pushing their ideas on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIN. They, in fact, we if I be a bit presumptuous, have better things to do with our time. Nothing wrong with social but if popularity (number of tweeted links/likes) is a deciding factor in ranking, those creating the best content in terms of "thought value" simply won't show up.

Apart from the fact that I've spend 15 years creating original content (I mean original, not some sad recast of what everyone else is saying), in print -- articles and books, and online (free, mind you), and that may now be worthless to me, it means that in my role of "content curation" (ok, finding and linking to the best content) is done.

There is now very little incentive to publish new ideas and thoughts to move fields forward, not only because it's hard to monetize, but because no one will see it because it won't have "buzz".

I work a lot with government, and have long wanted to open up a website on the topic, and have grabbed a few domains I might want to use. Now, there's no point.

If you look at social media, for example, what you will find is loads of stuff including the key word government from upset citizens, the political right, and so on....essentially contentless or worthless if one's interest is helping people understand government.

Project canned.

Finding the best content in niches from true authorities (scientists, academics, book authors that don't get buzz) has become harder and harder, and now the curation role is cooked.

And the kicker is, not only is content not king, replaced by "popularity", but the spamming of the SERPS and the pollution of an already polluted social media environment can begin aforce.

It's a trivial technical exercise to tweet every second on something, to vary the tweets, in order to boost SERPS. I have tools to do that, and they are openly available. I don't use them except to post occasional automated tweets for things I think are valuable and always spaced far apart.

Why shouldn't I just go completely black hat and do that?

If that's what it takes to be found, I won't do it, and not only that but there would not be any point in using the Internet anymore, EXCEPT to socialize.

I'm seriously stunned here. I hope I've got this wrong, but not only has Google crushed businesses like mine that trade in ideas and content, it has the potential to significantly damage the society at large by LIMITING (unintentionally) the spread of the very information that runs the economic engines of this planet.

I'm thinking that of course, social indicators will be only a part of determining SERP's, so the effect hopefully isn't as absolute as it could be.

Finally, perhaps this social factoring explains why my sales have gone to zero, my adsense income has disappeared, and what I worked to build is now almost useless to me, to those in my niches, and to the larger world.

Someone, tell me I've got this all wrong.



 2:35 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I usually throw my "distributed search engine" idea on these threads -- so I will again. Think decentralized DMOZ where vetted reviewers "manage" a niche, locale, or other chunk of the index and the same way DNS is propagated to root servers, the index is propagated out to decentralized indexes. The computing power can all be obtained from excess CPU, bandwidth and disk space from the unused resources of already existent sites.

Someone is the "editor" for apple pie recipes, someone else is the editor for "blue widgets", etc.. (when a category gets too big, it gets broken down to "blue widgets in USA", "in Canada", "in China", etc -- but those all share a fraction of the "rank" of all "blue widgets" collectively). Title keyword spamming, link spamming, best-blue-widget-in-the-world.xyz domains would be worthless

Like DMOZ it could have a hierarchical editorial structure - with a peer review type system built in -- a vote of no confidence would see any particular editor voted off the island.

Lexipixel: Having been a DMOZ editor, and all that jazz, I don't know. But oddly enough we have all the tools for the solutions, kinda. In fact an open source type search engine using google customer search engines might just do it.

More than TWO YEARS ago, I was having problems finding material to "curate" (along with my original articles, I do some niche directories on a hand picked one by one basis).

What I did was use Google CSE TO create topic engines and hand picked the sites to be searched. It's pretty amazing how FEW good quality sources can make up a decent niche search engine if you ensure the sites are information focused. Obviously, more is better but twenty authority sites on a topic can produce amazing quality SErps.

CSE's allow multiple contributors, so theoretically, you could organize a loose structure of people to produce a loosely associated set of search engines. Add some system for quality control, start small grow slowly, and you'd have something with high quality content, and something you can monetize.

Scaling is always an issue, and I'd wonder if one got something going and going well, whether google would pull the plug on you.

Anyway, we made our CSE's available to our visitors, and I use them for my own research.

SO, basically, we hand pick authority sites, and let google search them for what the visitor/searcher wants. Efficient because WE don't have to index pages, only sites, and quality really does jump out for the authority/quality pages.

Darn you guys. Too much good stuff here to ignore.


 3:00 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Again, I think that it is more than likely google will develop new methods of delivering different sets of results for different users - whether it is refinements of personalized search in the main SERPs or whether they develop alternate "properties" where the algo is weighted more heavily toward favoring certain types of content.


 3:10 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

agreed @Planet13

Google are going to hold up a mirror to the individual user and filter their results through their algo (including 'social' data now) which will be pre-determined by the users own interests, experience, friends, intellect, social conformity, bigotry and bias ... and people are going to call this filtering 'censorship', as if it were not a reflection of the user themselves, and their own individual internalised search criteria - which Google is just trying to 'channel' in order to get more accurate SERPs for each user and more money for themselves through market share ... happy days ... haha


 3:15 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm glad you decided to stay around joepublisher ;-)


 3:27 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Advances in Search from 2011 will be adjustments to the "Mirror Ball Algo" (with multi-faceted reflections) because what you 'Get' will be a reflection of what the Mirror Ball Algo 'Sees' about you, on each of your individual searches, warts and all ...

In its worst case, nightmare scenario, which people are upset about it becoming, think about the 'average' internet user looking into a disco mirror ball while listening to Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' as they search the internet.

However I personally don't think it will become like this for everyone, particularly if you have a more enquiring, inquisitive mind, this too will be reflected in the results you are shown - as you search the internet think of yourself looking into a disco mirror ball while listening to ... 'insert your own personal favourite music with an over-the-horizon looking theme'.

Ever the optimist :)


 8:21 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think what we have in play here is the continuing evolution of the Internet.

We went from the Web to the Web 2.0, and eventhough this is just buzz-words, it did actually mean something, and here is what I think it is:

The Internet is going from being centered on content (like a magazine or a newspaper but on a computer screen) to being centered on application (like FB, games, YouTube, Twitter, etc). I know that all these "applications" are usually populated with content and manipulate content, but the "content is not king" anymore, like we used to be told by Google.

Here it is, I am saying it now, and remember this: "functionality is king".

In today's web, functionality gets you the content: just think of FB, Twitter, Trip Advisor and many other sites. Even content websites like the HuffPost have so many widgets, they are like applications.

Yes, I'd like to believe the old mantra that "quality builds brand" that many amazing (very amazing) people on this board still propagate. But I think this is no longer the case.

Traditional webmaster (like me), independent webmasters (like me) small webmasters (like me) are stuck in the Web 1.0, the web of creating your own content. This web is now officially dead and soon to be buried. Buried under the social signals of the mob. The mob only cares about the mob, not about the best.

I believe that some of the great people on this board that still believe in website quality, are actually so good at this web stuff, that they manage to harness at least some of that "functionality" and incorporate it to their sites. They probably therefore still believe in the quality of the site, when actually, it is the quality of their work that is supporting their site, not the site itself (a bit of a twisted logic, but I think it makes sense).

For the rest of us, the vast majority, the web will become a smaller and smaller place.


 9:10 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

What would WebmasterWorld be without content? Not much I'd argue.


 9:16 pm on May 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

functionality gets you the content

In terms of singular/primary importance, it's more likely some ever-shifting combination of "content is king", "marketing is king", and "functionality is king".

But I think you're onto something. In the "old days", people came home from work and allocated a certain amount of time to being on the internet. Then they lived the rest of their lives. Let's say they gave it 90 minutes every night. They entered that universe via AOL or Prodigy or some other portal. Then the populace moved away from portals and entered via a search service ~ Alta Vista, Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek, et al.

Then around 2000-2002 came a huge shift with the massive success of Google, as they became the entry point, and we became obsessed with all-things-Google.

Now, many millions are going into Facebook every night during their allocated 90 minutes, and they are staying there. So those of us that used to benefit from impulse buying, from visitors that wandered into our domains, are no longer seeing that at previous levels.

So I agree that functionality has become considerably more important than ever, and Facebook is the current winner in that world. When FB starts their own email service, then there will be one less reason for people to step outside its walls. Then to drive in the final nail, mix in a FB search service. If most or all of those results come from accounts within FB itself, then it's a whole new paradigm, and the FB section of Webmaster World will swell with activity, along with an equal dose of webmaster anxiety.



 2:23 am on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm trying to figure out what functions facebook provides, but that's another topic.


 2:32 am on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

647,000,000 results for "things you can do on Facebook"


 2:38 am on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm trying to figure out what functions facebook provides

I'm not a member of FB at this point, but will do so if/when I figure out the best way it could help my online business.

FYI, 500,000,000 people are figuring out FB's functionality:

People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook [facebook.com]



 2:51 am on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm Spartacus


 3:02 pm on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

To me it sounds like you are just too damn smart to respect anyone with a lower IQ than you.

I prefer to think your comment is a result of entropy and the return of the universe to increasing states of disorganization and chaos, rather than any characteristics specific to you personally. That way I don't get kicked off the board.

intelligence and smarts have little to do with this, probabl nothing, in fact. The issue is how deep and thorough someone's knowledge is about a topic, whether it's kite flying, physics, or auto mechanics, AND:

whether those with the best understandings will in fact be popular enough so we can find them in the future

whether those with the best understandings and who want to share their knowledge, often for free, will even bother if they don't want to spend their time being "Liked" like they were in grade 7.

Leosghost: As I age my articles get smaller and smaller, so I tend to be indefinite about them when possible, except with my wife who prefers them to be more definite, on the rare occasions that...


 3:07 pm on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

> don't want to spend their time being "Liked" like they were in grade 7.

With all due respect, I just don't get why you have this condescending attitude towards the 500+ million people using Facebook. Used with imagination, aligning your site with their technologically can be a very positive thing.


 3:09 pm on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

'm not a member of FB at this point, but will do so if/when I figure out the best way it could help my online business.

FYI, 500,000,000 people are figuring out FB's functionality:

It sometimes surprises me at the assumptions people make. Been on facebook for over two years, have a number of pages, plus an online store. On twitter have close to 10,000 followers for one account, in total close to 20k across various subject specific accounts.

As for my comment about FB functionality, I would seriously like someone to tell me what "functionalities" are for FB, since I'm not clear on how people are using the word here.

When you try facebook out and try to actually use it and customize it, and get into their absolutely dippy system for doing so, get back to me. Horrible docs. Most things are buggy or inadvertantly crippled.

I digress but I wanted to use one of their widgets on my websites to link facebook comments to those on my websites. Struggled with it (their handy dandy widget maker) before I discovered that unlike for DISQUS, you need to specify in each code snippet for each page, the url. Right, like that's going to work across thousands of pages.

DISQUS works perfectly. I know I could use php perl or javascript probably to fix this, but why should I have to?

As i say, I digress.


 3:15 pm on May 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

With all due respect, I just don't get why you have this condescending attitude towards the 500+ million people using Facebook. Used with imagination, aligning your site with their technologically can be a very positive thing.

I don't have that attitude. I'm sorry if my way of writing misleads or misrepresents, but also with due respect, you have to READ, and not skim what I write, or you won't get what I'm saying.

If it takes likes and retweets to get ranked in SERPS, then many people, including a whole lot of people on Facebook are not about to spend their time promoting themselves that way, and yes the "liked" terms sounds adolescent and guess why?

Ask facebook.

I check Facebook regularly, but spend little time on it because right now it's not offering much in terms of what I want. In terms of aligning with web, sure. I've done some of that. So?

Again, are you assuming things?


 8:30 am on May 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

> If it takes likes and retweets to get ranked in SERPS

That's a very big "If" and I don't see any evidence of it happening. Pure speculation on your part as to just how big a factor this will or won't be.


 2:54 pm on May 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

whether those with the best understandings will in fact be popular enough so we can find them in the future

Many of those people are quite frankly, too stupid and arrogant to make it in the real world. Complaining about how smart and expert one is, is hardly an endearing quality, nor does it have any practical application.

Hint: facebook is a pretty good reflection of the real world.


 4:33 pm on May 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Many of those people are quite frankly, too stupid and arrogant to make it in the real world.

Yet the "real world" (Facebook et al.) depend on them whether they like "those with the best understandings" or not.

Ever wondered if Turing would have been on FB, personally I don't think so and yet without Turing .......


 1:19 am on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Many of those people are quite frankly, too stupid and arrogant to make it in the real world

Or too smart to make it in a social networking world?


 1:23 am on May 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

yeah we get your point. you're smart, most people aren't smart enough to buy your stuff.

i gave up smart for profitable years ago.


 12:08 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

yeah we get your point. you're smart, most people aren't smart enough to buy your stuff

I just had my snark removed, so I'm unable to reply in accordance to snarkology.

However, no, that's not my point. Let me ask you something: Do you ever search for stuff that is a little bit niche, a little bit advanced, on a topic, whether it's brain surgery, or flying a kite? Stuff that isn't likely to attract a lot of people retweeting or "Liking" the content?

That's at issue. Will that material continue to be generated and if it is, will anyone be able to find it if social indicators become more heavily weighted.

I'm willing to bet that you have hobbies and interests about which you know a great deal, but may want to know more about. It's the more advanced stuff, or indepth stuff that's at issue.


 1:32 am on May 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

>> When FB starts their own email service, then there will be one less reason for people to step outside its walls.

I believe Facebook actually introduced this service a couple of days ago (when you posted that). I got a notice from Facebook that I will now be able to use username@facebook.com... and "here's a tour of the service that you have to click 'continue'" of some sort. Not really an email service per se, but a forwarder.

>> Do you ever search for stuff that is a little bit niche

That's exactly what I search for almost 100% of the time. Honestly, I can hardly find anything I need these days on Google or Bing, it's ridiculous. Sometimes a wiki article with a mention, but hardly comprehensive information.


 2:37 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Great thread and hats off to Coachm for having the balls to post what he did. Even though I agree with a lot of it, I wouldn't have said it for fear of coming across as a grumpy old man ;-) I too grimmace at the ever increasing influence of social and the dumbing down of society in general, not just the Internet. I don't think the general public are stupid (although some of them are and they now have a bigger voice than they used to) but they are lazy. And this is why they are so easily manipulated and unfortunately that is fuelling the popularity contest known as social media. I don't know what the solution is but in the meantime I'm afraid we do all need to adapt.


 4:47 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't think the general public are stupid ... but they are lazy

To my eyes, many if not most homo sapiens are becoming increasingly intellectually "lazy" because we do not need to remember any longer ~ some search service will tell us what we need to find, or some popup scheduler will remind us of some important date, so it is no longer necessary to commit any of these things to memory. So like a muscle that is not used, that ability within our brains is probably weakening. It seems truly incredible when we think of Homeric poems or Irish epics with many hundreds of lines being passed on in an oral tradition. Or to realize that the American public would listen to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate for hours about issues of direct importance to the people. Now of course, we get 20 second soundbites. God help us if humans lose the use of the machines ~ it will be like the movie "Idiocracy", only worse.



 5:02 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

How many kids, or adults for that matter, can "make change" without either a calculator or a till, or bare feet and fingers..

Or do simple mental arithmetic..such as, if 15 = 3x , and also 15 = 5y, what is 4x multiplied by y .

The proportion or percentage of those who can, compared to the population as a whole, is certainly smaller in the "West", than it was 40 or 50 years ago..

The acceptance of the use of calculators in exams sounded the death knell for mentally agile populations.

But then one doesn't need intelligent consumers ..the important thing is that they consume, and can be reasonably easily distracted, or cowed, and thus remain relatively docile..

Facebook and other social "shiny" sites and apps and iThings, are merely the latest, in a line of beads and mirrors and trinkets, to keep them amused, whilst their secrets and lives are mined, in order to better know, and control,.. the flock.


 6:17 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Stop with the off-topic elitism, please. All human advancement is to make the impossible difficult and the difficult easy.

I'm sure people bitched when the wheel was invented, too.



 6:49 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Once again science fiction has seen the future... :)

The Feeling of Power (a short story) by Isaac Asimov, 1958. Wherein the climax sees a character feeling the power of (channelling Leosghost) doing simple multiplication in his head.

Just as every generation (at least from Plato on) bemoans their children each generation does as it will and suffers or enjoys the consequences.

And what my children have to say about prior generations is simply grotesque... :D


 6:53 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Totally on topic ..( and not elitism ..unless you think we should all pretend that stupid/lazy is beautiful ) ....my comment fits perfectly with the OP's topic ..( which apparently you have not read )..unlike your personal attack..

Healthy people didn't stop walking when the wheel was invented..only the dumb ones...the rest only used wheeled transport when the distances were too great for healthy walking to get them there.

The dumb ones nowadays have to pay for people to help them to exercise and avoid coronaries and associated illnesses due to bad diet and going everywhere even a few hundred yards with motorised wheeled transport

Interesting the hostility telling the truth about what is really behind "the push for social" brings out..

If you can't see what is behind the push to social media..and consider telling the truth about it to be "elitist" ..then it is obviously working as intended.


 6:54 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

@iamlost .;-)))


 7:43 pm on Jun 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Im getting my first twitterbot this week.

I am going to spam my sites to death - because they are worth it :)

This 310 message thread spans 11 pages: < < 310 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 11 > >
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