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January 24, 2011

Grimmelman non search neutrality

James Grimmelmann, whose writing on the Google Books settlement I’ve found helpful, has written an article about the incoherence of the concept of “search neutrality” — “the idea that search engines should be legally required to exercise some form of even-handed treatment of the websites they rank. ” (He blogs about it here.) He finds eight different possible meanings of the term, and doesn’t think any of them hold up.

Me neither. Relevancy is not an objective criterion. And too much transparency allows spammers to game the system. I would like to be assured that companies aren’t paying search engine companies to have their results ranked higher (unless the results are clearly marked as pay-for-position, which Google does but not clearly enough).