Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Google Bombing

Google Bombing or Google Washing, however you'd like to phrase it, can be summed up as the practice of skewing search results via anchor text in hyperlinks. Google bombing, if done efficiently will produce results such as the most mentioned example: "miserable failure" with President Bush being the top search result.

There's a question looming on whether the results are intentional or unintentional. Some suggest that Google's allowance of the "miserable failure" G-bomb indicates a bias political point of view but others suggest it's simply too difficult to filter across the board. If Google attempts to alter their results manually then where would they draw the line? The question of bias in the search results would obviously become more of an issue if Google decided to start filtering results.

The subject matter itself is not news breaking, but the fact that Google published a post on their blog to explain how this happens and that they will not take further action in attempts to alter/remove these results is 'news worthy'. It shows awareness and a conscious decision to do nothing about an admittedly skewed search result. But more over, it admits imperfection. And from the exalted status of Google it's refreshing to here.

So perhaps we, as an audience of Google users, should not be upset that the search results are not perfect. Nor should we be upset that Google will do nothing about it. It's a system designed to help sort thru a near infinite collection of web pages and it is a system based on link popularity. It's not a promise to find exactly what we want every time. It's simply a tool that we can learn to use.