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Monday, May 19, 2003
Googling and weblogs

There is a debate in progress about how weblogs are allocated too high a 'rating' by Google. The complainants claim that searches for information frequently come up with too many weblogs early in the selection. This is an extract from a (pro-weblog) discussion:
...some people have noticed that, for certain kinds of Google search the top references dug up by Google often come from weblogs. "Gah!" cry the searchers. "Those bloody weblogs are clogging up Google!" Among those who consider weblogs to be a mindless recycling of links and idle chatter by a vanishingly small number of net users, this is seen as a Bad Thing.
Here is the complete article.

Now Myfanwy Trellis, as my occasional and only reader, this should not be a problem for you - I know that you do not use Google to obtain access to my latest pronouncement. You could find it useful though, at some future stage, to use Google's 'Weblog only' facility, one of the fabulous developments promised by the tie-up between Blogger and Google. It may be, therefore, that an 'Omit weblog' facility will also be included.

As it happens, I use Google to search for all sorts of information, unrelated to weblogs. Even when I am searching for news items upon which I am proposing to blog, I so seldom come across other weblogs that I do not understand the problem at all.

But the theoretical possibility exists that some searchers may find 'Josh's Joshings' polluting their carefully thought out search arguments. Accordingly, I have done some dummy searching to see how far up the 'pecking' order 'Josh's Joshings' comes. I have two examples to offer. Firstly, I searched for "Ali G" and USA, a subject I blogged about a while ago. The Google search came up with several thousand hits and I gave up paging through the results when I Got to 300, having failed to find 'Josh'. There didn't seem to be many other weblogs higher up so I think that, in this instance, the complaint is invalid.

The second example is more interesting: Ten days ago, I picked up a story from 'The Onion' about Natalia Verdugo, the Chilean Ambassador to Washington. I reported the story in its entirety (with due acknowledgement and links to 'The Onion', of course). Searching on the lady's name, with a bit more information, found me second after 'The Onion' itself. In the days since then, I have found 'Josh' slipping farther down the list. Currently, 'Josh' is now eighth and 'The Onion' sixth. Again, hardly pollution.

As this article says, if you understand the quirks of your search engine of choice, you will get better results. From my point of view, Google currently gets me what I want with little extraneous ‘rubbish’. Suggestions that weblogs are already cluttering up Google searches are nonsense.

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