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Rogue Employee or Algorithmic Coincidence?

I normally heavily discount claims that Google results are stacked. They work for hours to tweak their algorithm and the idea that someone could/would be manually weighting things just strikes me as far fetched.

I understand and have even defend google over the results you get when you google "Jew." Google, to their credit, has an explanation that is more than credible.

But having said all the above, the Confederate Yankee has a disturbing find and has done enough research to make a case that something might be fishy. (no pun intended) Knowing the mentality of the religious haters, that this is intentional is entirely plausible.


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Comments (17)

I got the same result as Co... (Below threshold)
Robert:

I got the same result as Confederate Yankee.

Google Delenda est!

Rouge employee?Bet... (Below threshold)
arb:

Rouge employee?

Better Red than dead, I suppose.

What a rogue.

ahw crud... lol thanks arb<... (Below threshold)
Paul:

ahw crud... lol thanks arb

Lysdexia is hell.

The "Baby Jesus Butt plug" ... (Below threshold)
Travis:

The "Baby Jesus Butt plug" is STILL the first Google result.

It's pretty clear that Goog... (Below threshold)

It's pretty clear that Google has been weighting blog postings more heavily than other types of links recently.

The Baby Jesus Butt Plug was mentioned in lots of blogs- both the "tee-hee-hee let's wind up the red state freaks" variety and the "sacrilege! The heathens should be broken on the wheel by the inquisition!". Since the whole point of the product was to generate noise, it's not hard to see why (knowing Google's predilection for liking blog links more than others) this is an algorithmic, and not malicious result.

They may be assholes- I'm pretty uncomfortable with their actions in China, and their acceptance of alternet as a source for their news area- but I'm pretty sure there isn't anyone at google doing this just to wind up the fundies.

At the bottom of the search... (Below threshold)

At the bottom of the search page is a link that says, "Dissatisfied? Help us improve"
Hopefully enough people will take the time to comment to Google as well as commenting here!

http://www.google.com/quality_form?q=baby+jesus&hl=en&lr=

Tim is on the righ track.</... (Below threshold)

Tim is on the righ track.

My undestanding has always been that, although Google uses many parameters to rate pages, one of the most critical is the total number of links TO that page (and the "score" of the pages with those inward links). Thus, if a bizarre page has heaps of links to it (probably BECAUSE it's bizarre), that will push it right up the list of results.

It makes sense, right? Because the more people link to a page, the more likely it is that it's interesting, and if it contains the term you are searching for, it's quite likely what you want to see. Unfortunately, if these "high-ranking" pages also contain less relevant terms, those less relevant terms will still be elevated by the page's high overall "score".

So I'm sure this is a community effect, not any kind of Google bias. The fact is, the internet in general finds that page "interesting". You may not like it - and as Tim points out, that might actually be making the problem worse, not better. The more people link to it in outrage, the higher its "score" gets.

F*ck Google: " The only sit... (Below threshold)
Elmo:

F*ck Google: " The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results." From your above embedded link titled 'explanation.' Google is coming to be something to fear. Mark my words.

http://anechoicroom.blogspot.com/2005/12/fck-google.html

People, just turn on "Stric... (Below threshold)
kamatu:

People, just turn on "Strict Filtering" in preferences, it kills crap like that. Of course, you will have to turn it off to do a search for porn, but otherwise it will work fine.

IMHO, Confederate Yankee di... (Below threshold)

IMHO, Confederate Yankee didn't do much "research"; just checked a few simple items that ignore Google's huge weighting (for better or worse) on links. As one of CY's commenter's pointed out, try a search for "failure"; surely the top 2 results aren't based on keyword density or meta tags. CY and others should do some research on "googlebomb" and SEO (search engine optimization), including the "black hat" variety.

I agree with your headline: there's a very slight chance it's a rogue employee. But, people who think it's intentional on the part of the company are simply misinformed, and come across as conspiracy mongers to be ignored rather than reasonable people who add to the debate.

There are far too many of t... (Below threshold)

There are far too many of these "anomalies" to remain convinced that Google's employees aren't manipulating results from time to time.

Why is the first result for "failure" whitehouse.gov/president/gwbbio.html ? Even though the second result is michaelmoore.com, as you click his link whose picture appears?

Can someone explain that for me?

Agreed that it's not partic... (Below threshold)

Agreed that it's not particularly likely that this is a Google "inside job," but at the same time, if Google wishes to present itself as a useful search engine, they have a responsibility to police cases of obvious abuse of their algorithms. "Baby Jesus" searches that have a top find of a buttplug, "Failure" searches yeilding a link to GWB's bio, and "Jew" searches giving a top ranking to an antisemetic site are far from being "humorous quirks" in the system.

The weighting of links may indeed explain this, but what's left unexplained is why such weighting exists on a general search. A "news" search should be subject to such weighting (the most likely valid results are the ones to which most people discussing the event link) but not necessarily a general info search.

IOW, Google may not be directly responsible for these results, but they are indisputably responsible for not taking sufficient steps to "fix" an obvious problem.

FWIW, Yahoo!'s results are ... (Below threshold)

FWIW, Yahoo!'s results are similar on "failure" and "baby Jesus", but listing them as #2 and #8, respectively. The "Jew" search doesn't return google's #1 in the top 20 results, but does offer "jew watch" as an "alternate search" term.

Scott, for your information... (Below threshold)

Scott, for your information, I used to be in the the SEO field. None of the other search engines, even those running a branded-version of Google, have this as the most relevant result in this search.

I don't see any legitimate way that a sex toy should show up as the top search result for a religious figure. Period.

If a human is not involved, then Google's linchpin technology is flawed and the billions that his company has been capitalized with is, in my opinion, quite over-rated.

Another example of the righ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Another example of the right-wing war on science. Algorithms ?! Pish posh.

No doubt this could have co... (Below threshold)

No doubt this could have come about as a result of algorithms. The point is that however it happened Google should take the time to demote it appropriately. Really...How many people using Google to search for "baby jesus" are looking for gay sex toys?

Right, they should monitor ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Right, they should monitor and change their search threads. Only about a billion of them.

Email them with your great idea!




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