Monday, August 28, 2006

Google-bombing ourselves into the Stone Age

An old friend of mine is outraged by the deviousness (and I'm sure he would say the deviance) of the Far Left. I don't know about deviance, but a certain amount of cyber-treachery is involved in his latest discovery.

Try this: Go to Google and type the word "failure" in the search box. Hit Enter. See what comes up.

Is the result a political bias on the part of the people at Google, where the corporate motto is "Don't be evil"? Nope.

But political bias and a low form of evil are involved. It's called "google-bombing" and it involves a deliberate guerilla effort by anonymous and "determined" Bush-haters to wage a dirty-tricks insurgency of their own. Is it fair and legal? Sure. Is it malicious? Sure. Will conservative operatives pick it up? Sure. But it shows exactly the lengths to which the disloyal opposition will go to stain the other side (expect to see some form of this regarding Hillary.) We don't need foreign wars ... we're too busy trying to annihilate ourselves.

Here's Google's official explanation posted last year:

Googlebombing 'failure'
9/16/2005 12:54:00 PM
Posted by Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Web Products

If you do a Google search on the word [failure] or the phrase [miserable failure], the top result is currently the White House’s official biographical page for President Bush. We've received some complaints recently from users who assume that this reflects a political bias on our part. I'd like to explain how these results come up in order to allay these concerns.

Google's search results are generated by computer programs that rank web pages in large part by examining the number and relative popularity of the sites that link to them. By using a practice called googlebombing, however, determined pranksters can occasionally produce odd results. In this case, a number of webmasters use the phrases [failure] and [miserable failure] to describe and link to President Bush's website, thus pushing it to the top of searches for those phrases.

We don't condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we're also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don't affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.


SingingSkies said...

It is encouraging, though, that the sponsored link at the top of the search is an acknowledgement that the results "may seem politically slanted" and is a link to an explanation. One can only hope that even those who are politically biased in favor of the results have the integrity to seek to understand why. Although why anyone would do a search on the term 'failure' (without prompting, that is) is a mystery to me.

Chancelucky said...

There's a part of me that finds this funny and another part has been worried for some time about the fact that people take search engines far too seriously. I found out about a year ago that Google does censor some and that their search results can be manipulated (there's a growing business on the commercial side for search engine placement experts).

One of the big problems is that Google doesn't seem to do a very good job of recognizing the quality of cited facts. For instance, a fact about someone copied from a common erroneous source easily gets repeated a dozen times or so and that version gets promoted to the top of the search instead of a correct version with greater reliability (often apparent from simply reading the thing). I've found wikipedia versions of things (helpful but not always correct) cited and recited to the point that ordinary web-surfers would just assume it's true when they see the same bio show up on five sites.

On the other hand, I'm probably one of those who does believe that W=Miserable failure. :}

Ron Franscell said...

Oh man, don't get me started on Wikipedia!

Chance, I suspect you arrive at your opinions honestly and that's how it should work. I'm no fan of W's, but nor am I an enemy. I would hate to see Hillary's website pop up when someone searched an indecent term that rhymes with runt, or a merely indelicate term that rhymes with witch. I am growing weary of the incivility of our political processes, and by the effects of unseen, unnamed, unethical secret operatives on both (all?) sides.

SEMI said...

For what it's worth, I am safely ensconced in what you would probably describe as the "Far Left" and I agree with you. This simply stinks of an adolescent stunt, like looking up "dirty words" in the encyclopedia. I don't need Google to point out the failures or success of this administration; let history be the judge. Why would anyone do a search on the word "failure"? Obviously, to see the intended result and then send it along to their humourless friends. webmaster said...

excuse me if I laugh...

if enough people link with one keyword to a website, then it will be listed on google just like that and on other search engines as well, it is just a simple technical thing that works without regards of any policital opinion!

I find it absolutely hillarious and love the search result! - now if you watched closely you will have noticied that Michael Moore comes as close result in the search listings as well!!

And... I am listed on the google blog because I mentioned the top hit song from the Pet Shop Boys that sing about "I am with stupid" that deals with the connection of the Bush - Blair - politics.

The Internet is a technical network, and a lot of people seem to forget that is is itself offers ALL SIDE OF VIEWS, including those we don't like ourselves!

It's called diversity!

Democracy Lover said...

Apparently some people have too much time on their hands. This is sophmoric at best and frankly if I were looking for a descriptor for Bush, I'd hope to do better than "miserable failure".

However, this silly trick pales in comparison some of the sick rhetoric used by far-right talking heads on TV and radio. The polarizing invective used by Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Michelle Malkin and others is much more damaging because it is repeated ad nauseum on major national media. I believe in being critical of politicians on both sides of the aisle, but name-calling, red-baiting and attacks on patriotism should be condemned not repeated.

Chancelucky said...

I agree with you about the loss of civility. It's been an issue for a long time, but the first time I noticed it was with Ronald Reagan of all people running against Walter Mondale. Mondale had been thrown one of those softball questions about his opponent and he did the then standard for tv debates,"this is what I respect and admire about RR".
When they reversed the question Reagan almost pointedly said nothing positive about Mondale.

I probably noticed it because I voted for Mondale back then, but I'm sure there are other examples (likely earlier) that run the other way. Since that time, though, I've seen the norm change away from being expected to show some respect for your political opponent.

There was a time even when it actually wasn't the case that the running assumption was that it was 2 competent individuals with the good of the nation, state, whatever at heart. Now, it's pretty standard to simply trash your opponent. One of my reasons for disliking the President is that he's contributed significantly to that downward trend particularly post 9-11 but also because of what he allowed in the South Carolina primary in 2000 against a member of his own party.

On the subject of the net, I think there need to be "ethical" standards in netsearch algorithms and on the net itself. At a minimum there should be clear disclaimers on search sites and/or major search engines should voluntarily implement "accuracy" checks on search results (probably needs to be overseen or regulated in some fashion as well).

Anonymous said...

"failure? Is that the best you people can do? How about murderer, liar, and cheat? How about dictator? We are talking about, possibly, the worst president of all time. I'm very dissappointed with my left wing comrads. maybe you sould have gotten out and voted at the last election instead of spending so much time on the internet

Mental Health said...