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At least we know they aren't rigging the PR calculations. ;)
A long-time Google searcher told me this afternoon that they couldn't use Google anymore, it was just too frustrating. They weren't finding ANYTHING that they were searching for. This person isn't a webmaster, and doesn't even have a website, but they are online a lot, and they do buy a lot of stuff online.
They went to MSN and found exactly what they were looking for in the #2 position. I think MSN has a new fan, now. It will be difficult for Google to get these people back, as she changed her homepage from Google to MSN right there on the spot...
One down...how many more people will Google let get away before they get this fiasco fixed?
It is and will probably forevermore be futile to search for <a spammy phrase> at any search engine. You'll get tens of thousands of affiliate doorways for every single site for a real <widget>. That situation won't change: because it's a distributed denial-of-service attack (kind of like a zillion ants looking for holes in a screen door) no fixed or automatic defenses will last long. And the same thing is probably true for almost any common search term (with diminishing probability almost perfectly linear against frequency of search) -- because there are tools that allow spammers to pick any search terms for which it's not yet true.
[edited by: ciml at 4:12 pm (utc) on Feb. 12, 2005]