mrry (Happy New Year)
Blog Information Retrieval 27/Nov/2004

I break off from the IR report that I really should be writing to offer some discourse on a sorry state of affairs.

My recent post, entitled "The World's Strongest Boy" is currently the top result on Google for an eponymous query. It was written in response to a flurry of peculiar Google referrals, resulting from a comment on an old post about trainspotting. (Keen observers will notice that we've just gone meta-meta: does this mark the moment when I jumped the shark?) As such, it offers little by way of information about the topic to the thousand people who've trusted Google to fulfil their information need.

So it appears that, as Neil and Andrew Orlowski never tire of saying, blogs break Google. Now, I want to rank highly on Google (for reasons of pure egotism? Probably), but I also want Google to remain able to answer my queries. To many people's chagrin last year, a query on an ill-defined OS3 concept — the "track buffer" — turned up a local blog, to which I shan't link for fear of perpetuating the silliness, in the top result.

All of which would make for a rather fatuous post, if I didn't have some suggestion to make. My idea? It's not fully formed, but if there were some way of signifying that a post was introverted (self-referential, meta-, masturbatory — call it what you like), a search engine could de-emphasise that post in its rankings. To give blog owners (and site owners) an incentive to do so, some reward could be given to the other pages on the site. Now, this is not a fully-formed idea, and in a simple incarnation, it could be gamed in such a way that everyone loses out. However, in combination with some sort of relevance feedback (was this result useful to you?), it could work. Maybe.




Trainspotter said:
The real problem would be that hardly anybody has any useful input on the subject. Not even five yields any useful search results. You would think that the people who make the website for the UK's 5th largest TV channel -- all credit to their name -- might understand the theory behind getting people to their site. Nope.

Ergo, I propose that The World's Youngest Trainspotter will yield our very own Mr. Murray. Google isn't broken; mindless web designers are.


C said:
Thanks D! Is rather embarrassing to think that all those operating systems people had to suffer my bad joke! xx





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