Googlistic Puritanism

Google Guy (an anonymous Google employee who blogs about Google policy and technology) has been following the “Jew” episode, and offers some valuable insights into why Google’s position on the matter is what it is. See “Google Won’t Manually Adjust Results,” “The Case for not Manually Editing Search Results,” and “Google’s Krane Lied” to get the skinny from the company’s perspective.

[Updated] Let me be clear—I’m with Google on this. I don’t support censorship, hence why I haven’t signed the Remove Jew Watch petition. Google indiscriminately indexes the whole web, and in doing so provides an invaluable service to millions of people, free of charge. For better or worse, with whatever flaws, I will take it as is over interest-controlled filtered content any day.

At the same time, in a case such as this, I think it’s merely responsible of frequent Google users, such as myself, to utilize Google’s Page Rank technology to improve the quality of results their search engine provides. Some folks at Google seem to share this sentiment, whereas their toolbar has a voting function which allows users to add to or subtract from the value of a site’s ranking. Although Google’s PR guy, David Krane, told CNet that “Google typically discourages such tactics to manipulate search results,” a Googlebomb might be considered another method of such voting, and can open grand doorways towards the democratization of Google’s service. This could be seen as an added benefit to Google itself: If they can nail down what to look for, tracking and analyzing the results of human interaction with Google could greatly improve the capabilities of Google’s ranking technology, and thus the overall quality of its service.

Now, maybe it’s the anarchist in me talking, but I don’t favor the idea of established political groups organizing Googlebombs in order to advance their causes. However, I believe that individuals of conscience taking it upon themselves to rectify poor search results should not be discouraged from doing so. We as individuals use Google everyday, and we have to deal with its output. In the case of “Jew,” clearly, the Wikipedia entry is a more verifiable and substantial source of information about Jews than an antisemitic hate site run by a cult leader. If Google’s software is too dumb to figure that out, it needs people to make it smarter. After all, we dictate what’s relevant information, not some algorithm. What use is a service that spits out bad information due to the company’s puritanical approach to search indexing? Ultimately, Google may be indispensible, but it’s not without it’s flaws.

Thus, Google’s stance on the issue is understandable, but still unacceptable to me as an end-user. If, as in this case, it becomes necessary to improve Google’s results on our own, by merely linking our own websites to more relevant information, I find that we are doing Google a favor by improving the quality of their search results without putting them in the position of “censor.” Moreso, we are reducing their culpability for the content they offer by taking the responsiblity upon ourselves to “offer suggestions” for improvements, and in doing so democratically “elect” more favorable search engine results.

Fair enough?

5 thoughts on “Googlistic Puritanism

  1. The more and more I think about it, the more I find it delicious that the very same ideologies that anti-semitic websites propagate about Jewish media conspiracies are being effectuated by everyone’s industrious attempt to circumvent Google’s ranking algorithm. Beautifully Ironic.

  2. i think the suggestion that this effectuates the ignorant assertion that “the jews control the media” is, no offense, stupid.
    clearly, google’s refusal to capitulate to pressure from jewish groups demonstrates quite succinctly that there is no extraordinary jewish influence. further, that the press has made such an issue out of this is more suprising to me than anything else. i really had no idea people cared so much about this. if it wasn’t passover (and thus timely to run a “jewish interest” story) i doubt it would have gone so far.

  3. I’m not suggesting that this action lends credence to their ideas. Or rather I was. As a joke. A backfired joke.

  4. “it becomes necessary to improve Google’s results on our own, by merely linking our own websites to more relevant information, I find that we are doing Google a favor”
    aren’t you also doing YOURSELF a favor by improving YOUR content?

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