Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Unless They Go Back, It's Goodbye Google From Me

Google is my favorite Internet search engine, so much that it is set as my home page. I use it many times a day. Why? Because it works. Actually, I need to correct that statement. It did work, but with this new system, I don't know if it will continue to work. Based on issues with Amazon and YouTube I am skeptical.

I was really surprised yesterday when I saw Google, that the search engine had changed.

1. It now allows social promotion for every entry.

a. There was an upward facing arrow to click if you like the webpage, to bump it up.
b. There was an 'x' symbol to nix it out if you didn't like the webpage

2. Every webpage now has a comment screen.

I was at a loss for why they did that and hadn't heard a peep about it, not in the blogosphere and not in the media.

It seems to me that a switch-over from a regular Internet search engine to shifting to the world's largest site promotion website would be news. When I say that I am comparing the new Google to Digg, delicious and others in which users promote webpages they like.

Google would be wise to inform themselves of the issues that Amazon has faced regarding customer reviews. The issues reveal ethical issues and cheating by users who either work to promote themselves or who work to tear down their competitors.

Also regarding the free text comment window, that is a bad idea. I am not looking forward, for example, of being criticized and defamed, slandered and such by rude or insane anonymous people. If comments are allowed it also opens up issues such as profanity use and inappropriate language. When my children use Google to search for sites do I now have to worry of what they may read in the comments? One can learn quite easily from the YouTube comments that they can be a real problem. I know of one YouTuber who is an African-American woman who was getting comments that in some states would be legally considered to be a hate crime due to the defamation language regarding her race. Others had rude words for her because she was a woman. She changed her YouTube account to allow comments for her 'YouTube friends' only. Monitoring her comments was upsetting to her and was nothing but a problem.

What will Google do to monitor and delete inappropriate comments?

What will Google to do ensure that website owners or bloggers don't falsely promote their own webpages to try to drive traffic to their sites? And legitimately, if my own blog posts appear near the top should I be promoting them as they are indeed a good fit for that search criteria?

People who seek to drive traffic to their website or blogs love to complain that the Google search engine doesn't show their webpages. However I think that Google's move to stop being a 'regular old search engine' and to turn into a gigantic 'Digg' or similar site is a big mistake. Perhaps Google is making this change to satisfy those complainers?

I know that sometimes when I'm doing searches on Google I find low quality sites or sites that really don't tell me any information that I was looking for. Perhaps Google is trying to help weed out those types of sites. If so, I applaud them, however adding a human judgement element that then controls future viewings that other users will see is risky. The feature may wind up hurting good sites also. For a similar issue, Amazon reviewers complain when their customer review does not appear on the first product page. If a review is buried behind due to space constrictions, that review has a chance of not being ever seen or rated, or appreciated by other users.

Yesterday I spent a bit of time trying to find something on the Google site to announce and explain this change. I was curious why they were doing it and how it worked. I wanted to confirm my suspicions. I couldn’t find a trace of this anywhere. Today the feature is not on my Google page. I wonder if this is a beta testing that is being rolled out randomly, that I got it yesterday but didn’t get it today?

I get a lot of blog hits from Google. I suspect this is because I use Technorati tags to put categories on nearly every post that I do, just for the purpose of having the post picked up by various sites so that potential blog readers can be directed here. I am curious if the changes and how I will be affected by the ensuing fraud that users will do (as they have clearly done on for years).

Google should revisit their mission for their search engine and seek to provide a service that meets that mission statement. Google has been the most popular search engine, from what I hear, so why they are changing it for the worse is beyond my comprehension.

Update 2:10 pm: I'm still checking this out and if it is something that doesn't affect Google's ability to find the sites, if it is just what we individual people see, then I have no complaints. I didn't quite understand the message from Google about it when I tested the featur out today.

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Kevin said...

Hello! I too noticed these features but am fairly certain they are private only appear to you once you are signed into your Google account. So the only comments you'll see are those you enter, any priority shifts in the search rankings will be yours alone. At least that's how I think it works! Try it and see - sign out of your Google or Gmail account and then go to and search. I'm pretty sure you'll see that those features are not there. Hope this helps! -kj-

Carrie said...

I just looked without logging in and I don't see those options. I'd be seriously concerned if they exist but is Kevin's remark accurate? Is it just if you log on?

christinemm said...

FYI it is there again for me. It was not there when I posted but it's there now.

That makes me think they are testing it and not showing it to everyone.

Rachel said...

Perhaps you might be interested in something I found on LifeHacker: