Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Sat, Apr 02 2005

Search Engine Gaming And Other Gambles

Earlier this week there was a lot of commotion about WordPress and the controversy over its hosting of third-party articles that manipulated rankings at search engines like Google. Many of the comments I've read seem to be angry ones directed at either Wordpress or at Google, who apparently removed WordPress from its index after the gaming was discovered.
What confuses me is the idea that the manipulation was possibly an experiment. If that's true, why not approach the folks at Google first and tell them you'd like to try such a thing to see what happens, rather than leave them out of the loop? (I always wonder the same thing about people who try to hack into big corporate sites to prove it can be done so that they can help the company. Maybe I'm just dense.) Google seems to me to be full of people who love to try new things and use search engine techniques to present information in as many ways as possible. It's just unfortunate that WordPress and Google couldn't get together ahead of time and do the experiment together. I'm still reading about what happened, but as far as I can tell right now, Google was an unwitting participant in the whole matter. If one tries to use Google to manipulate Google's users without Google's knowledge or consent, why should we be surprised when Google withdraws its support?

One of the ideas set forth in an article on Wired News earlier this month is that links are "bought and sold" all the time. Search engine optimizers seek to spike a company's search engine rankings by using keywords, linking popularity and other methods. When someone criticizes the SEOs, they say they are just using Google's parameters to make life better for the SEO's clients. Is this acceptable to most users of internet search engines? Is a company who does this as a business less culpable than an open source blog software site? And why do people blame Google first, rather than blame those who seek to take advantage of the technology that Google uses to present information freely to the average user?

When I sit down to do a search using a search engine, I am most interested in research and not in sales. If I thought all search engines existed merely to funnel my attention to "stores" I would use search engines much less. When I do want to look for something commercial I can usually find it without much trouble. It's the sites who mask themselves as content-rich sites but offer little more than ads that annoy me. When I run across those I leave. Ads don't bother me in themselves. Leading me to believe I've come across a lot of information and then flooding me with ads bothers me a lot. Google has been pretty successful at presenting both commercial and non-commercial results, at least in my experience. I'm happy to let them do that, but they can do that best if those who create web sites maintain some sense of integrity.

I'm not familiar with Wordpress, but the software seems to be enjoyed by quite a few people. I can see the polarization of anger with this incident masking a lot of bigger issues. If search engines simply blacklist sites that present a mixed message we might lose important information in the future if someone uses third-party content without realizing it has search engine gaming as part of its content. Will these sites then be caught in the middle and be banished from search engines, or be relegated to some lower level of the internet? Then we begin to create an internet caste system. Do we want that? We'd might have to decide, once we start placing blame here and there.

The folks at Google are constantly learning and finding new ways to make searches better. Because of all this arguing surrounding search engine manipulation by third parties, I'm wondering if Google will someday split its results into completely separate commercial and non-commercial sections, or will even develop another whole search engine site that returns non-commercial results for those of us who use the internet as a giant reference desk. I doubt such a site could be free to use unless Google used the commercial side of things to help pay for the non-commercial results. And someone would have to determine what non-commercial means and then figure out how to filter out sites that tried to sneak in linking and ads. Wait a minute. Isn't that what started all this trouble in the first place?

posted at: 16:34 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Quote Of The Moment
Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.
--Earl Warren
Arts and Entertainment
Health and Fitness
Religious and Spiritual
Writing Life
Some of the Blogs I Like
Adrian's Science Fiction Starter
Big Stupid Tommy
Blog Catalog
Christina Waters
Detectives Beyond Borders
Faith in Fiction
The Fire Ant Gazette
Jay Michael Rivera
Keystone Military News
Orange Crate Art
PI Buzz
Rabid Librarian's Ravings in the Wind
San Diego Soliloquies
TED Blog
Blog Resources and Blog Tools
The Ageless Project
Listed in LS Blogs
The Blog Herald
Listed on Blogwise
Some of my other web pages
Deb's Monthly Review
Deb's Writer Cam

Writer Links
Writers' Resources
Hatch's Plot Bank
Instant Muse Story Starter
The Memes List
General Store
Stetson Hats
Levi Strauss & Co.
Jaxonbilt Hat Co.
River Junction Trade Co.
Head 'N Home
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
Hang Hat Here
Write Lightning button       RSS         email Deb

Follow me on Twitter

Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!