Joho the Blog » Google SeachWiki’s surprising missteps

Google SeachWiki’s surprising missteps

If you log into your Google account when searching (you can tell if you’re logged in by seeing if it puts your login name at the top of the page), Google has enhanced its results page with new features. The features are slightly useful (and largely mirror Wikia Search), but they also commit two rookie mistakes. Surprising, coming from Google.

The enhancements let you move a particular result to the top of the rankings, so that next time you search for that term, you’ll get that result first; doing so does not affect the results for anyone else (although Google isn’t ruling out that possibility). You can also demote, add or remove a result from the list the next time you do that search, or write a public comment. These are features some of us may find sometimes useful.

So, what’s my beef? (What are my beeeves?)

First, opting us in is obnoxious enough, but not giving us a way to opt out is unsupportable. Where’s the big “No thanks” button? (If you put your “I heart hackers” t-shirt on, you can use GreaseMonkey to turn SearchWiki off.)

Second, the results page shows you the nicknames of other users who have voted the page up. So, now the whole world will see that “dweinberger” not only searched for “Angelina Jolie” but thumbs-upped the page of closeups of her tattoos? Guess who just changed his nickname to something less identifiable! This is a feature without value — the list of names isn’t clickable or complete or tell you how many people voted it up — unless you recognize someone’s nickname, in which case it has negative value.

So, here’s a new question for Jeff Jarvis: Not “What would Google do?” but “What was Google thinking?” [Tags: ]

14 Responses to “Google SeachWiki’s surprising missteps”

  1. I think the real test is how they react to the reaction. Google, after all, does believe that it should put out everything as a beta and we should tell them what to do then. So long as they listen well and do it, that’s OK, eh? Facebook operates similarly. It opens up development and design. I think I see the wisdom of the wiki idea itself – both for individual users and for what it can teach Google. The foolish things you and Arrington have identified are (a) not letting us opt out and (b) the uselessness of adding names while also raising dangers in both privacy and, as Techcrunch says, spam. That’s the clueless part to me. It reminds me of the introduction of Facebook’s newsfeed in a way. It was a surprise without proper controls. But once explained and with controls added, it became central. I wonder whether this could be similar. j

  2. The lack of an opt out button is the same mistake Facebook made with its Beacon program. It doesn’t feel very Googlish to me. I was surprised.

  3. Hmmm… I see a “Logout” option in the top right corner. Does it count as a No Thanks Button?

  4. Yes, you lose the searchwiki functionality if you log out.

    You can also opt out by going to this site :)

  5. [...] Weinberger highlights a stunning oversight by Google’s SearchWiki team (bold mine): [T]he results page shows you the nicknames of other users who have voted the page up. [...]

  6. faster access to higher-quality information.

    (Google official blog, Nov. 24th / 21st / at 4:55:00 PM)

    faster access to higher-quality information.

    faster access up-yer-ass

    We are excited to announce we were able to sort 1TB (stored on the Google File System as 10
    billion 100-byte records in uncompressed text files) on 1,000 computers in 68 seconds. By
    comparison, the previous 1TB sorting record is 209 seconds on 910 computers.

    big deal

    (Prediction: they are going to get clogged.)

    The prediciton is:
    They will get clogged. It won’t be by the technology in the sense that they will meet some

    limit on the supersonic speed demon aspect but they will still get clogged. Then they’ll be

    scratching their heads: Gee, why didn’t this stuff work?

  7. correct website now for recent post please

  8. [...] David Weinberger has revealed how Google’s SearchWiki automatically displays the user name of other searchers who have voted to increase a page’s ranking. As Weinberger explains: So, now the whole world will see that “dweinberger” not only searched for “Angelina Jolie” but thumbs-upped the page of closeups of her tattoos? Guess who just changed his nickname to something less identifiable! This is a feature without value — the list of names isn’t clickable or complete or tell you how many people voted it up — unless you recognize someone’s nickname, in which case it has negative value. [...]

  9. I was asked before the first time I used this feature and decided not to use it. They did mention my nickname would be visible. Is that a new addition since a few days ago?

  10. Jessamyn, they must have asked me. I must not have noticed or paid attention.

  11. “This is a feature without value — the list of names isn’t clickable or complete or tell you how many people voted it up — unless you recognize someone’s nickname, in which case it has negative value. ”

    It only has negative value if you assume that people will only be voting up links that they’re embarassed having searched on or voted for. If I see that a specific result for my search on rocket ship fuels was voted up by “rhgoddard”, that would be positive value.

  12. [...] others see. It’s supposed to help personalize search. Results are mixed. Some hate it. Others question it. Others love [...]

  13. Every one is opt out, first time you use the feature you are asked to confirm it. If the dim buttons are the problem then grease monkey should help, logout is another option.

    The ‘misstep’ will achieve one thing for sure, It will test the entire hoax of web 2.0, where user feeds the content back. If its not a hoax, well we have the world’s largest web 2.0 service.

    If google’s intention are in doubt, we have crossed that line way ago. With billions of search every minute, google analytics working on millions of websites, we have serious issue. If google wants, at any day it can generate a fine blueprint of our internet behavior.

  14. [...] SearchWiki.  Thankfully, there seems to be a solution to the problem of name association.  Dave Weinberger noticed “[T]he results page shows you the nicknames of other users who have voted the page [...]

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