dertyfern - 8:15 am on May 16, 2010 (gmt 0)
Sorry for the mini-rant, but the whole 'I can see where I rank on other people's results by turning personalization off' is a very misleading thought, IMO, and I hope people quit thinking that way and realize just because your results are not personalized for a search doesn't mean no one else's results are personalized for the same search, unless they do the same thing.
The purpose for clearing out cookies, et al is not with the intention of seeing results others are getting but rather to see if my own rankings have fallen off in 'default' search.
Personalized search was introduced well prior to this traffic nose dive most are seeing and while it may very well have been dialed up I don't believe it to be the primary reason behind the current changes, IMO.
There's so much weird stuff happening (suddenly) it's shocking. I'm seeing referral to sites for searches that have nothing to do with their topic--not even close. You'd think personalized results would be more relevant somehow.
Tons of randomness in results, wrong locations on Google maps, etc.