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Internet Search Needs A Code Of Conduct

     
12:00 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Calls for codes and standards are growing as the industry matures.

A code of conduct would represent a huge change for the search engines, and it wouldn't just be a way of combating the arbitragers. As Salmanpour points out, all the major engines also have different policies on use of trademarks, affiliates and so on. But until now they've resisted industry calls to bring their policies into line. What's more, in the case of Google, information about changes to the algorithm have been kept deliberately vague in order to avoid making it easier for people to game the system.

Could such a code be agreed by the search industry?

[nma.co.uk...]

1:04 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why not just have one search engine? That would solve it!
2:29 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why not just have one search engine? That would solve it!

I thought that's what we have now.

3:11 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think as soon as ALL the webmasters agree to abide by a code of conduct (and do so) we can expect the search engines to do so.
3:28 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A "code of conduct" is a bad idea because:

1) The "black hat" and "grey hat" crowd wouldn't abide by it; and...

2) The market is better served when users have a choice of search engines that use their own criteria to decide what should or shouldn't be listed and what should or shouldn't influence rankings.

The whole idea smacks of a publicity stunt by the #3 search engine.

4:11 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This article says nothing in many words.

A "code of conduct" what conduct is proposed? Defaulting to a right-wing Neo-Christian facists concept of "family friendly"? Or perhaps prohibiting censorship through an adoption of extreme liberal tolerance that all searches should be inclusive?

It is the right of a search engine's owner to decide how that search engine functions. It should not be dictated to.

In a global environment like the WWW codes of practice can not work. A bikini-clad woman is obscene in Islamic society, banal in Scandinavia and erotic in America and England. Who is to decide where to draw the line?

Matt

4:55 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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All business need a "Code of Conduct", but the reality is that only the suckers follow it. I am in the florist industry, after being in IT for 15+ years, and what I have found in it is horrifying.

National companies such as FTD and Teleflora knowingly aiding and abetting others who have been caught red-handed stealing and committing wire fraud, all for the mighty dollar bill. Yes "business as usual" explains it away, and in our capitalistic society you better not talk about anything that improves your bottom line, no matter how slimy.

Code of Conduct? A nice idea for a different time and place, but don't ever thing individuals will follow them if they see an chance to make an extra buck or two.

5:01 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I agree about a code of conduct. It would be real nice if the top three engines like google, msn, yahoo would ban together along with any other engines that would like to participate.

Each engine could share information such as:

1. Malicous adware/viruses (Big win/win for everyone)
2. Spam sites
3. 302 hijackers
4. Sites that try to manipulate rankings
5. Sites that are involved in link schemes

6:07 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Clients will demand greater transparency in all areas of online advertising. And as search is the biggest area, attention will fall there more than anywhere.

If I read this right, the code as mentioned in the article is intended for advertisers, not search engine users or webmasters. That leaves me in the dark as to what "greater transparency" advertisers might want. The AdWords algo?

9:32 pm on Nov 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Each engine could share information such as...

Anything but that.

Firstly, do you really want Goo... (ahem) your favorite search engine trusting the lousy information from their terrible competitors? If one dumb search engine bans a great website (possibly yours) it would disappear in all.

Also, if they've got information-sharing agreements, why would any go the extra mile to get the best data possible, when they're just going to have to share it with their competitors? A search engine's ability to filter out the dross is a huge part of its competitive advantage.

Lastly, the fact that we have several search engines working in different, fairly secret ways is the biggest thorn in the side of any black-hat SEO operation.

12:16 am on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Among other things, more transparency is needed in what advertisers are being charged for, and the nature of exposure their ads get.
5:44 am on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Each engine could share information such as:

1. Malicous adware/viruses (Big win/win for everyone)
2. Spam sites
3. 302 hijackers
4. Sites that try to manipulate rankings
5. Sites that are involved in link schemes

That's not what a code of conduct does. If anything, it creates the opposite, because the SE's will not want to release any information that will make them appear to not be following the "code of conduct".

Remember, the SE's are in the game for the revenue. Exchange listed companies do not follow "codes of conduct" with their competitors, they only follow "government regulated legislation". And no, I'm not saying regulate them, I'm just saying they won't agree to do it voluntarily.

And to be honest, they shouldn't for the search engine aspect. Maybe there should be some type of code or legislation for the marketing (Ads shown with results), but not the results themselves.

2:23 pm on Dec 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Each engine could share information such as:

1. Malicous adware/viruses (Big win/win for everyone)
2. Spam sites
3. 302 hijackers
4. Sites that try to manipulate rankings
5. Sites that are involved in link schemes

A 10 minute search on any search engine shows that all 3 of the big ones and most of the small ones are making vast amounts of money out of PPC involving ads for the promotion of adware , spam , 302 hijackers ( even more ads on display )..sites that try to manipluate rankings ( um ...what are we all reading here for if not to be better at just that ;-)..

And sites that involve link schemes ..( not everyone selling or buying links has it written on their home page ;-) ..and if you have a site with TR and PR9 at #1 for a 500,000,000 search you arent going to say yes when someone wants to buy a relevant link out to their site?

The overall quality of the internet went into decline when we first learnt how to do SEO ( or if you prefer with the advent of the first search engine )..and went into free fall when Google released adsense ..

Now that Pandora's box is opened ( and i use the simili deliberately )..the world just has to live with it ..each of us in our own way ..we can be as ethical ..or not as we see fit ..and each of us with our own code of ethics ..

Standards and codes of conduct imposed from the top down are as Matt Probert says irrelevant , unworkable , and would require every surfer and website owner to have the same culture and view of the world ..

10:07 pm on Dec 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Could such a code be agreed by the search industry?

No.

4:47 am on Dec 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I my offline marketing days, decades ago, I never saw anything like real transparency, or any "code of conduct" that was more than spin and a nice public face. How could our online jungle do any better? This article seems to me to be either (1) astoundingly naive or (2) link bait.
3:53 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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but isn't there room for "standards" somewhere?

I've recently connected the dots and found that Overture is now syndicating their PPC ads into domain parker sites and other types of useless "content" like sites that are scamming the system.

Yahoo could put a stop to this by imposing or adhering to standards but they don't.

These clicks seem to appear sporadically, across numerous, phantom domains, and in the tail so as to be undetected by most.

This is clearly wrong and some kind of ITEF or W3 consortium seems to be called for here to make sure "content" is "content" and "search" is "search" so that people can opt out of this nonsense.

Also, there are a lot of systems that seem to be obscuring the referrer (source and keywords) such that this could become a bigger and more undetectable problem going forward if these systems begin to proliferate.

Aggregate profit for them - dispersed cost (and loss) for us spread out in pennies across millions of accounts.

(and I know I am only seeing a tiny tip of the iceberg)

Again, doesn't this speak to the need for an objective third party to oversee this to try to prevent these kinds of practices?

Back in the day, there were user's groups and societies that worked with the OEMs to improve things through customer advisory boards and such. I know for a fact that this worked and was treated quite seriously.

Who's doing this today? SEMPO? WebmasterWorld?

This is a tough call as I've bumped into what seems to be a well known member of the community who may well be profiting by exploiting some of these loopholes - good for them - bad for the industry!

4:51 am on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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These clicks seem to appear sporadically, across numerous, phantom domains, and in the tail so as to be undetected by most.

This is clearly wrong and some kind of ITEF or W3 consortium seems to be called for here to make sure "content" is "content" and "search" is "search" so that people can opt out of this nonsense.

To date, the IETF has almost no involvement in the "dodgy partner" (or any other fraudulent click) debate. I would welcome input from the greater technical Internet community. (Granted, they have battled with spam for years, and have not made much headway.)

Also, there are a lot of systems that seem to be obscuring the referrer (source and keywords) such that this could become a bigger and more undetectable problem going forward if these systems begin to proliferate.

This is a consequence of the openness of the Internet architecture. It is generally thought that it's better to allow people to design HTTP clients to operate however they want (even if, for example, authenticated referrers are not required). For this type of change to take place, it would involve considerable reworking of the Internet architecture. It's unclear whether the health of the online ad industry would mandate such a change, but perhaps if it was seen to substantially cut down on other problems (spam, phishing, DDoS, etc.), it would take hold.

11:25 am on Dec 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why do SEs need a code of conduct? As private entities they need to respect the law but that is about it. I agree with the "publicity stunt"? That #3 SE is always hungry for media atention...
2:03 pm on Dec 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This code of conduct is discussed on NMA magazine's latest podcast [nmapodcast.co.uk] by MSN. Judge for yourself whether you think it's PR or not.

Self publicity disclaimer: I'm not from NMA, but I am on the podcast. I've got a great face for podcasting ;-)

 

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