tedster - 1:58 am on Mar 7, 2012 (gmt 0)
Another piece of today's algorithm is feedback mechanisms - feedback that comes from measuring user behavior directly, and human quality rater feedback that looks at the results and rates the algorithm on how well it's doing or not.
And there's no doubt that in some areas Google is not doing so well at all. The further down the long tail you slide, the more chance you have to see some dreadfully wacky SERPs.
I believe the long range hope is that this kind of feedback may be be automatically folded in, at least to a degree. That would be a real AI goal, and we know Google loves their AI. It's a kind of "self awareness" I suppose.
Certain kinds of ranking changes could be made on a small scale, "sampling" basis just to measure how well it's working. And when it isn't working well you just might see some "zombie traffic."
The long run, we've got to let go of our old mental models and find some that are more functional. As several members had shared here recently, Google may be so complicated that no one anywhere understands the whole thing any more - not even Amit Singhal!