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Last post Author Topic: Google sets up a sting against Bing  (Read 5693 times)

Josh

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Google sets up a sting against Bing
« on: February 01, 2011, 01:43:05 PM »
Quote
Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.

As a result of the apparent monitoring, Bing’s relevancy is potentially improving (or getting worse) on the back of Google’s own work. Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning over during an exam and copying off of Google’s test.

“I’ve spent my career in pursuit of a good search engine,” says Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow who oversees the search engine’s ranking algorithm. “I’ve got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book.”

Bing doesn’t deny Google’s claim. Indeed, the statement that Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft’s Bing search engine, emailed me yesterday as I worked on this article seems to confirm the allegation:

Source

Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2011, 03:27:11 PM »
Hahahaha~! It'll be funny to see what comes out of it all.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2011, 03:29:23 PM »
Wow, that's *really* interesting. Not exactly sportsmanlike of Microsoft, but somehow I doubt that's outright illegal. The info is out there in public view. On the other hand didn't the guy who data mined public Facebook info face some kind of legal repercussions? That too is public data...

- Oshyan

Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2011, 03:33:19 PM »
Wow, that's *really* interesting. Not exactly sportsmanlike of Microsoft, but somehow I doubt that's outright illegal. The info is out there in public view. On the other hand didn't the guy who data mined public Facebook info face some kind of legal repercussions? That too is public data...

One of the funny things I find is that if Google is accusing MS of this... How do they know? Hmmm... They're both playing the same game. They're both watching each other. So it's like the pot calling the kettle black.

The copying part is another question --- and I wouldn't expect Google to admit that they did it if they did. No reason to suspect them either though. It does seem lame on MS's part.

I've had competitors copy me, but I never cried about it.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2011, 03:35:49 PM »
What are you talking about? Did you read the article? Google setup a test explicitly to see if Bing was doing this and got pretty conclusive evidence they were. Now if Google was doing the same thing, why would they call out Bing on it? They'd have a huge risk of having it fly back in their faces if Bing could prove the same thing in reverse. "Watching" is another matter; of course Google and Microsoft watch what each other are doing, but there's a big difference between that and outright copying *results* without actually figuring out algorithmically how to generate the correct (or similar) results.

- Oshyan

wraith808

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2011, 04:08:25 PM »
Take a look at the article on TechDirt for another perspective on this.  It seems like the pot calling the kettle black in an attempt to prove their relevance.

Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2011, 04:08:49 PM »
What are you talking about? Did you read the article? Google setup a test explicitly to see if Bing was doing this and got pretty conclusive evidence they were. Now if Google was doing the same thing, why would they call out Bing on it? They'd have a huge risk of having it fly back in their faces if Bing could prove the same thing in reverse. "Watching" is another matter; of course Google and Microsoft watch what each other are doing, but there's a big difference between that and outright copying *results* without actually figuring out algorithmically how to generate the correct (or similar) results.

I think that's what I said.

Quote
The copying part is another question --- and I wouldn't expect Google to admit that they did it if they did. No reason to suspect them either though. It does seem lame on MS's part.

I think "I wouldn't expect Google to admit that they did it if they did." was confusing -- I didn't intend to suggest that they were.

Google would have to have been watching Bing to notice it before they setup a honeypot to test for it. So they are watching each other.
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Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2011, 04:13:55 PM »
Take a look at the article on TechDirt for another perspective on this.  It seems like the pot calling the kettle black in an attempt to prove their relevance.

Quote
For Google to attack a competitor for using open information on the web -- the same way it does -- seems like the height of hypocrisy. It's fine for Google to crawl and index whatever sites it wants in order to set up its ranking algorithms, but the second someone looks at Google's own rankings as part of their own determination, suddenly its "cheating"?


It seems to me that he's got a point there. It sounds like Google's position is that the game should be played by the rules that they want it to be played by (i.e. the way they do things) and anything outside of that is "wrong".

Google has established it's entire business off of copying data from other people. (How else could they index?) So...
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Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2011, 04:14:36 PM »
Still... It seems a bit lame on MS's part, whether or not it's a "clever idea" or not.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2011, 04:31:49 PM »
Sorry, this all seems like typical Google hating to me. If this were any other company having its results directly mirrored (like, say, the spam "content" sites covered so heavily in other threads here) people would be thinking and reacting very differently.

Here's the issue: Bing is not just learning from Google, they're *directly copying*; not only that but they're doing so without *reasonable further analysis*. In other words they're not just looking at what Google is doing and saying "Hmm, I wonder what it is about that site that makes it come up high in the results, let's analyze further". That makes sense. What they're actually doing is looking at Google results and using them as a *direct contributing factor* in their ranking, and in the absence of other significant factors as with rare keywords, Google's ranking becomes *the significant ranking factor*. This can result, as Google showed, in entirely non-relevant, spurious results being ranked top in Bing. So what if Google really does make a mistake or their results really are less relevant than they should be? Well unfortunately Bing is going to just mirror that, so there's no real innovation happening here, no improvement. Given that Bing purports to provide a superior search experience and better results (you know, the "decision engine" thing), this is pretty ridiculous.

The TechDirt article ignores some key points in the original Search Engine Land article and seems to me to be another obvious case of Google bashing. They call out Google for "whining" about this unnecessarily and that they should be "reacting to the negative stories about their search quality by improving instead of complaining about competitors", but this completely ignores the fact that Google's test was setup *before* all the stories about Google's worsening search quality became the rage. Not only that but the same article ignores the test results discussed in the original SEL article which show that yes, in fact, Bing *is* copying results from Google, not just "learning from" (as demonstrated by the entirely spurious results Google seeded as a honeypot). Both articles even acknowledge that the tech media has a hard-on for stories about Google's search quality issues too, despite the fact that no unbiased tests have yet proven there to be *any demonstrable, repeatable problem* that other search engines do not also suffer from.

So tell me, who is biased, who is jumping on the bandwagon here? I swear, first it was Microsoft that everyone loved to hate, now MS has almost become an underdog and it's Google and Apple.  :-\

- Oshyan

worstje

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2011, 04:32:13 PM »
There's yet another reason I don't use Bing, or any other website ran by Microsoft.

Microsoft does not understand the internet. It ruins every service it buys and 'integrates' into their Live-doodah. There's more colorful bling and shouty ads on every page than there's ads in the advertisements that get dumped in my irl mailbox. Their development frameworks (ASP.Net comes to mind) totally rape webpages, triple them in size, crap out on non-IE browsers, lose standard functionality and whatever else.

Sure, Microsoft must do something right at some point. But my experience with it is that it poisons everything it can get in touch with. In comparison Google, which I am sure is equally backhanded and messed up due to the $ involved, has not ruined nearly as much. Inbetween support of Firefox and later on the development of Chrome, their new mail variety, their search engine, text-based ads, I feel Google is getting far more crap than it truly deserves.

I hope they got some lawyers and legally admissable records of this honeypot affair so they can at least take care of the fact Microsoft is trying to spin this story into a slander-story with them as the underdog. >:(

Bah, you ninjas, now I need to write an addendum. I think PageRank and all the other research Google is built on is a moot point. All companies are based on someone elses research to some extent: when was the last time you saw aviation companies credit Isaac Newton for his work on gravity laws, or Daniel Bernoulli for his famous principle? Google took research meant for one field, applied it to a totally different field and adjusted it as necessary, and out came PageRank. There's no simple carbon-copying going on at all: it has always been a matter of appliance while coming to a new 'bigger' product. In this particular case of results-copying, it is the same product, from a competing vendor, being selectively copied where useful. So cheating very much applies imo.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2011, 04:34:03 PM by worstje »

Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2011, 04:48:14 PM »
Here's the issue: Bing is not just learning from Google, they're *directly copying*; not only that but they're doing so without *reasonable further analysis*.

You're right.

I just don't care about copying like that.

Apple copied Xerox. Microsoft copied Apple. Apple copied Linux stuff. etc. etc.

Sure it's lame. Cheating? Sure.

When has anyone ever accused business of being honest? :P

Kidding aside...

Johnny: Who's the hottest girl in class? I think Suzie is.
Freddie: I think Suzie is the hottest too.
Johnny: Oh shut up! You can't think Suzie is the hottest girl in class because I though she was first!

Hahahah~!

More kidding~!

And I still don't care which search engines copy who or what. I only care about the results. Google still has the best results, so I'll keep using them until someone else has better.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2011, 04:57:58 PM »
Your examples of "copying" are simply not the same thing. Google can't patent their search *results* (nor can they copyright them as far as I can imagine). In the case of Xerox, Apple, and others, all involve patented or copyrighted systems/concepts, so any "copying" must have been done in such a way that it avoided the existing patents (or there was licensing involved). If Google *could* copyright their search results, Bing would be in clear violation. That's the difference. In other words there is a difference between being inspired by and learning something, or even "copying" it by implementing your own very similar but *different* (in construction, implementation, method, etc.) system. Generally speaking if you're improving on an existing idea, that's reasonable and permissible, provided the resulting idea is sufficiently different/improved. Here the copying is much more literal. I'm honestly surprised Bing was this blatant about it.

- Oshyan

Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2011, 05:14:51 PM »
Your examples of "copying" are simply not the same thing. Google can't patent their search *results* (nor can they copyright them as far as I can imagine). In the case of Xerox, Apple, and others, all involve patented or copyrighted systems/concepts, so any "copying" must have been done in such a way that it avoided the existing patents (or there was licensing involved). If Google *could* copyright their search results, Bing would be in clear violation. That's the difference. In other words there is a difference between being inspired by and learning something, or even "copying" it by implementing your own very similar but *different* (in construction, implementation, method, etc.) system. Generally speaking if you're improving on an existing idea, that's reasonable and permissible, provided the resulting idea is sufficiently different/improved. Here the copying is much more literal. I'm honestly surprised Bing was this blatant about it.

- Oshyan

I'm not so sure they aren't basically the same. i.e. The more complex the idea, the greater the differences when they are copied.

Mouse. A pointing device. Fairly simple idea with a fairly complex implementation that can't help but be somewhat different, but not by much. (Xerox then Apple.)

Software download repository. Simple idea. Complex to implement. Can't help but be different in a lot of ways. (In Linux in 1998 and OS X in 2011.)

Displaying a website at the top of a list. Simple idea. Simple implementation. Can't help but be the same. (Google then Bing.)

It's just such a stupidly simple thing that it can't help but be identical.


I am curious as to how much Bing has copied though. THAT seems to me like the greater question.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2011, 05:58:29 PM »
I just had an important revelation regarding all this and I may have to retract some of what I said. :D It seems *I* missed a key point in the original article, and that is that the people who were testing this at Google (from their home computers) were told to click on the top result in the bogus searches. So if you think about it, it could have nothing to do with the results being Google's necessarily, and everything to do with Bing simply tracking what sites their toolbar users click on from a search. Ah hah!

Now the question is whether the same thing would work on a different search engine, say DuckDuckGo or Yippy. If so it simply means Bing's toolbar is "learning" from user behavior and is quite frankly badly tuned and not rejecting clearly insane feedback (i.e. it puts too much trust in user's self-selection of relevant results). That just speaks to flaws in Bing's algorithm (surprise!). If however it's *just* watching what people click on in Google, then it's still kind of slimy.

I'd like to think Microsoft is only favoring links people click on - regardless of source - as that takes it well out of the range of slimy and makes for a much more sensible (if properly weighted) approach.

- Oshyan

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2011, 06:06:33 PM »
Google explains it on The Official Google Blog: http://googleblog.bl...s-google-search.html


Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2011, 06:07:21 PM »
I just had an important revelation regarding all this and I may have to retract some of what I said. :D It seems *I* missed a key point in the original article, and that is that the people who were testing this at Google (from their home computers) were told to click on the top result in the bogus searches. So if you think about it, it could have nothing to do with the results being Google's necessarily, and everything to do with Bing simply tracking what sites their toolbar users click on from a search. Ah hah!

Now the question is whether the same thing would work on a different search engine, say DuckDuckGo or Yippy. If so it simply means Bing's toolbar is "learning" from user behavior and is quite frankly badly tuned and not rejecting clearly insane feedback (i.e. it puts too much trust in user's self-selection of relevant results). That just speaks to flaws in Bing's algorithm (surprise!). If however it's *just* watching what people click on in Google, then it's still kind of slimy.

I'd like to think Microsoft is only favoring links people click on - regardless of source - as that takes it well out of the range of slimy and makes for a much more sensible (if properly weighted) approach.

- Oshyan

Sounds reasonable to me.

Though... If you were to do it, wouldn't you aim at the top players in search first? I certainly wouldn't waste my time on JoesAwesomeSearch.com.

I'd bet that they're primarily looking at Google, and if not, then only the top few like Yahoo, Baidu, Naver, etc.
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Renegade

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2011, 06:12:06 PM »
Actually, thinking again, it would make sense to simply monitor the search term and the page clicked to. That's the easiest way to do it, and would be entirely search engine agnostic. However, with Google being the dominant player, the majority of data collected would be from Google essentially.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2011, 06:17:48 PM »
Actually, thinking again, it would make sense to simply monitor the search term and the page clicked to. That's the easiest way to do it, and would be entirely search engine agnostic. However, with Google being the dominant player, the majority of data collected would be from Google essentially.

Exactly. You'd want to do it search engine agnostic both for legal reasons, and to avoid "result poisoning" and other issues like Google demonstrated. It could even get to the point where Google could detect the Bing toolbar and/or use of IE and perhaps send the wrong referral data or something, who knows. I doubt Google would go to that level, but it's possible, and Bing would be playing a dangerous game if they really singled Google's results out.

Google's blog post on the subject is a good original source but doesn't really seem to add any new information. It repeats the critical information that the test users *clicked* on the results, too.

- Oshyan

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2011, 06:22:02 PM »
If MS is monitoring the results that people actually click on in order to improve their Bing results, I certainly couldn't blame them for that. It sounds reasonable and I wouldn't call that slimy. After all, who uses the results, what do they want, and what are they doing? Using information that people supply would only make sense. That the information is the same as Google's wouldn't be surprising as they have the bulk of the market. While it still would essentially be copying Google's results, it would only be doing so indirectly.

But that's all just speculation.
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JavaJones

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2011, 06:59:03 PM »
Yes, exactly, I agree. Again that's only if they're not specifically targeting Google though. :D

- Oshyan

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2011, 08:13:37 PM »
Another thought -- it would explain the spelling errors with correct result(s). For tough words that people misspell, when Google serves up the right results for what they want and they clicked on the most relevant, it would explain why they're getting proper results for misspelled words. i.e. Google is training people and Bing at the same time. :)
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zridling

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2011, 05:44:27 AM »
If Google's good enough for Microsoft, then it's good enough for me. Google's response should have been: "But wait, I thought we sucked! Never mind."

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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2011, 06:19:39 AM »
If Google's good enough for Microsoft, then it's good enough for me. Google's response should have been: "But wait, I thought we sucked! Never mind."

BWAHAHAHAHAAH~!

Nice one~! :D
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Re: Google sets up a sting against Bing
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2011, 07:35:12 AM »
Quote
Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google
So one spy is blaming another ? oh irony. or even fitting ' pot calling kettle black' ? or whatever..  :D