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Searchwiki - new features: Promote, Remove, Add, and Comment

     
1:45 pm on Oct 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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One of my friends in the office saw some strange results in iGoogle this morning. Some features being tested are a button you can click to "promote" the listing towards the top, a "remove" feature that removes the result from your list, an "add" feature allowing the user to add what they think is relevant to the results, a "comment" feature that looks like some kind of wiki, and some other wiki related options at the bottom of the page. Interesting. Maybe I'm way behind the curve here, but I've not heard or seen this before.
9:09 pm on Dec 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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> scripts or cheap labor aren't going to be successful in signing up

Really? What about the thousands of gmail, yahoo and other email accounts signed up regularly by some poor under-nourished soul in India typing in CAPTCHA numbers? Spammers are thriving on them!

In my opinion, if google are daft enough to implement this as part of the SERPS then it will be time for a new engine to make an appearance. Google is already in webmasters' black books - or at least grey ones - because of inapplicable geo-location and insistence on back-links which many otherwise excellent sites simply cannot obtain. Add this one and when punters find their favourite sites disappearing, so will google's bank balance.

I don't think google are quite that dumb.

8:44 pm on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Really? What about the thousands of gmail, yahoo and other email accounts signed up regularly by some poor under-nourished soul in India typing in CAPTCHA numbers? Spammers are thriving on them!

No, this is apples and oranges. Just because people can successfully sign up for a fake Gmail account and send spam doesn't mean that they can sign up for lots of accounts to affect the SERPs. You need only *one* fake account in order to send spam. You'd likely need thousands to meaningfully affect the SERPs. And even then, since Google is smart enough to throw out votes by newly-registered accounts and from suspicious accounts, even those people who somehow register thousands of fake accounts won't have their votes counted anyway.

This isn't rocket science. Devaluing mass fraudulent accounts and voting is way easier then combatting link spam and returning meaningful search results in 0.17 seconds. Google can handle this easily.

8:56 pm on Dec 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Devaluing mass fraudulent accounts and voting is way easier then combatting link spam and returning meaningful search results in 0.17 seconds. Google can handle this easily.

I don't disagree that Google have the capabilities to implement user-influence on the SERPs in a reasonably controlled way. But I think you drastically under-estimate the technological capabilities of modern spammers, and how cheaply verifiably human 'assistance' can be acquired.

Writing HTML, text copy and linking are all human activities after all - at least, Google wants to evaluate them on that basis.

From the comments and votes I've looked at (there doesn't seem to have been that much of a response rate), it seems like a significant proportion could be easily identified as "spam" or untrustworthy. But even if that's the case, it still represents very useful data to Google ;)

If this data influences the SERPs, then the savvy will reap benefits, Google's idea of relevance will have changed, and everyone else needs to adapt - but it'll still be just another algorithmic change at the end of the day ;)

4:43 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I agree MichaelBluejay,

If you compare the users ratings with the Analytic and CTR you could get a pretty clear idea of what's really going on.

The IP ranges would also be quite telling.

It seems unimaginable to me that ratings wouldn't have a minor impact on the algo. It wouldn't be much more than a minor influence though.

Also, lets say I visit a lot of computer related sites and I rate good and bad on lots of sites. Would my vote weigh more than someone who seldomly searches those terms?

5:01 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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if google do manage to use this data to improve their results, it would be a major revolution for search engines. using millions of human beings to improve the results would be extremely powerful and vastly better than an algorithm alone.
5:02 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The IP ranges would also be quite telling

Not in China. There is only one ISP. And then you could anonymise your IP address using a service.

Honestly, you could have people simulating use. Actual real people actively using accounts for seemingly real purposes.

Unless the effects are so miniscully (SP?) small as to be pointless, as long as the Gold Farm-esque company had enough clients, it would be profitable.

Put it another way. Consider normal users- people for whom SEO hasn't even come close to passing the horizon of their most distant imagination. They will vote for sites by what they like more. NOT by what result was most relavant (there is some overlap, but it is important to distinguish).

For that type of voter, it makes more sense to learn THEIR prefs, categorise them with like-minded people, then return results they will like to THEM.

Now I know the two uses are not mutually exclusive, but given a choice between using votes to determine core SERPs, and using votes to return more personalised SERPs, I'm sure G is doing the latter.

[edited by: Shaddows at 5:05 pm (utc) on Dec. 5, 2008]

9:38 pm on Dec 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sure, you could have people simulating actual use. That raises the cost dramatically. Probably enough to make it unprofitable. And even if you could afford it, there's no guarantee that your simulated use wouldn't be detected. Do we really expect cheaply-paid labor to be cunning enough to make their patterns of use on thousands of different accounts more different rather than more same?

Fine, let's say that it's really profitable to pay people to create thousands of accounts and spend time on each of them acting like a real user and differentiating their use among those different accounts. Oh, looky here, Google throws out those votes because all those accounts were registered in the last year or two. Is it still profitable to pay for all that labor when it could be years before you might see any results, and when you have no guarantee that you actually will?

If you think so, good luck! My money's on Google.

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