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The conflict of interest that is Google

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Do I get a badge for "Google Apologist" if I say that "bias" article is, er... BS? :D Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it. The way I've always thought of it, these "results" at the top are not actually search results, they're "info widgets" that *directly* provide potentially relevant info in case that will answer the user's question without actually having to visit a separate site. This is exactly like Google's "widgets" that can process equations or do unit conversions for you. I doubt that Yahoo or any other company would be willing to let them scrape and reformat data for "widget" presentation in the same way, at least not without a price, so I don't see this as unreasonable or anticompetitive at all.

Several Slashdot posters (in fact almost the majority) have already echoed my thoughts, so I guess I'm not the only one:

Sorry, I don't doubt Google has some "evil" tendencies and certainly wields lots of power, but the incessant Google blood/witch hunt I just can't get behind. I think what happened with wireless data gathering is worse than this, but even that was probably not malicious and is arguably being handled fairly reasonably.

By the way, Yahoo does the exact same thing with their own content. And you know, I like Google's services more, but I have no problem with that either. Yahoo Health comes up for "acne" and Yahoo Finance for "goog" (or any other common stock name). The only difference is that with Yahoo, for the acne search, I had 4 3-line sponsored results *above* the widget, plus a 6-line widget, plus 5 lines of link to 2 articles and their summaries, *then* the real search results started (this is on top of 6 ads in the right column). In total I managed to get 5 search result links and summaries on Yahoo without scrolling, vs 7 with Google (and on Google one of the results is a news feed, with 1 news story and full summary, plus links to 2 other stories). Google's results are also wider and the ads are only 2 lines instead of 3. There's a reason Google is still #1.

Edit: more experimental validation fun! So try "flu" in Yahoo and Google. On Google, the top "widget" is! Next is the CDC, the top actual search result. Wikipedia is 3rd. On Yahoo, Yahoo Health is the widget, then as the top search result, Wikipedia 2nd, and CDC 3rd.

Adding Bing into the mix now. Oddly, searching for flu gives me a map listing first, but it's links to a bunch of drug stores where I can get flu shots so I guess it's ok. Big widget though. is the first search result, followed by Wikipedia. No flu info widget (besides the map). Interestingly Bing has the fewest ads with just 1 2-line ad on top, and 5 on the right. Bing uses a different provider of stock quotes (interestingly it seems to not be the same data source as MSN moneycentral), but has the same type of widget at top. For acne, Bing has 4 2-line ads at top a Mayo Clinic sourced widget and "Bing Health", then regular search results (5.5 without scrolling). Interestingly, Bing dynamically adjusts its top tabs for domain-specific search, so for "acne" I have a "Health" tab at top. But if I search for flu I *don't* get the health tab (not even with "influenza"). Weird.

But regardless all this data just upholds my original contention. There's nothing wrong here. This is not a representation of "relevancy rank" per se, it's just another way to present data which a given company has that may be relevant to your query. It's just like the ads bar, an additional element of the search page design that shows *different* information than regular search results.

All this being said it would be nice if Google and others allowed you to turn off the widget stuff (maybe they do?).

- Oshyan

Ok, here are 2 conclusive proofs that Google isn't gaming the system to the benefit of their info above all else, and that these "widgets" are indeed *additional* to the search results.

First, in the search for "flu" in Google, as I said the widget for comes up, followed by CDC, Wikipedia, etc. Google Health *does* have an entry for flu, but guess what, it's *not* on the first page. WebMD is. Google Flu Trends and Google Books (widget) are also (interesting). But not Google Health. In fact from what I saw, it's not in the first *5* pages!

Number 2: By default Google shows 10 search results per page. We all know this, right? Guess how many there are if you count the widgets? *13*. There are 10 normal results, and interspersed with those are widgets, 1 for at the top, 1 for news almost half way down, and one for books at the bottom.

So there you have it, pretty conclusive IMHO.

Seems the original author also has a bit of a bone to pick with Google: :D Of course he claims that Microsoft being one of his consulting clients has nothing to do with it, but by his logic, correlation *does* equal causation, eh? ;)

- Oshyan

God, it seems like some of you got internet access yesterday! The whole "system is fake with correct/impossible standards. Every heard of SEO? What you want is correct results based on who has the most effective SEO. So SEO is the truth then?
This about Google pimping own stuff has been an "issue" since forever. I remember Picasa and perhaps Picasa Web creating some debate years ago. Like when you searched for image/picture stuff it suddenly appeared on top. If this is considered a problem I think Google can screw everyone over and over without anyone noticing. They just need to make a "GUI" no one gets upset about. Then Google rocks!!!

Also I think best way to know their mindset is not reading prepared blogs/articles trying to make a fuss but seeing beast in the eyes. So Codetrucker, say hello to Google Analytics team blog, their twitter, install GA, check help pages and forums. Start using the tool. If you want to know Google that is a good way to start, many other offerings are biproducts of GA  - they would not exist without. But that is part of the evil scheme of course :)

When done - start placing Google in the big picture, you know all the other companies directing your internet activities. What is left to warn about?

Part of the outrage against Google is that many years ago, when the Internet was yet young, a rebel group defied the "man" by declaring that they would serve up search results that were based on relevance, and not self-interest. Moreover, they declared that they would "do no evil" as their competitors did... We bought that. We supported them. We believed.

Now, years later, our belief and trust has been betrayed.

Exactly but how can anyone believe that? It is so strange to see people get sad now Google has become evil! They have always been evil. They are a business operating in the same environment as Microsoft etc. They just do it with more transparency (yes) and well better :) They speak to YOU right? You feel Google is there to help you. Now you are disappointed, have lost a friend. They are good, heh.


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