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December 14, 2016


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Chris Armstrong

This seems to me to make as much sense as suggesting that dictionaries should only contain nice words, or that the publishers of news should hide nasty stories, or indeed, as the right to be forgotten. As you say, "Google is not there to give you the 'right' result, since there isn't a right result" - Google is a search engine and makes no judgements other than those through its algorithms that are based on terms, links, statistics, etc. Google does not actively GIVE [my emphasis] "a site a coveted #1 spot in their results because their algorithm is being played" - the site ends up algorithmicly at the top for that reason. Moral, social, ethical judgements are the domain of humans. Karen Blakeman has shown in her blog - http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2016/11/15/how-to-write-totally-misleading-headlines-for-social-media/ - how source resources can influence what is shown to describe their web page by the cunning use of invisible false metadata - a 'Google Bomb', if you will. That metadata was added by a human and I suppose some ethical decision was made or ignored.
If Google followed the suggestion above and added a note at the foot of the page about more results being available, they would have to explain themselves in each case - it would be another moral, ethical - and possibly legal - minefield that we would not like.
It would be another story, of course, if a search engine actively promoted such sites.

Phil Bradley

Sorry Chris, but your idea that a dictionary is the same as results from a search engine is just wrong. In a dictionary all words have equal merit; obviously not the case with search engine results which are ranked according to an algorithm based on the idea that one result is better than the next. Yes, Google DOES give a site a #1 spot because of the way those algorithms work, and Google can, and does change them on a regular basis.

Moral, social and ethical judgements are made by human beings, and it may surprise you, but Google is, ultimately, run by human beings. They change and tweak the results as they wish - as I clearly explained in the body of the blog post they did this when they got rid of the Google bombs. It's their *choice*, it's not some sort of accident.

You clearly don't have another alternative, so presumably you're quite happy with the current situation. Excuse me when I point out that not everyone is as casual about it as you are.

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