econman - 1:57 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)
how come it didn't learn what people like and take corrective action filtering out the 'content farms' one SERP at a time all along?
I don't have all the answers, but I think this update involves a fundamental shift in Google's goals -- for the first time they are attempting to assess the "quality" of a web page or website (still don't know which).
Until now, they have been focused on "relevance" without regard to "quality." These are not the same thing.
As to why they are doing this in a big splash, rather than through tiny incremental changes -- perhaps to reap as much public relations benefit as possible?
And, perhaps to "shock" the system, so they have a sharp before and after contrast which allows them to do a clean A vs B analysis on the data they started obtaining late Thursday?