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confusing galaxie 500 owners since 2003

phil skillfully wields his rhetorical sword and asserts that i'm missing the blogclog point. olivier thinks i'm off target as well. before i fully paint myself into a corner, i want to make it clear that i'm not advocating removing blogs links from the general index, but rather i think it might be useful to remove or modify the display of the text of blogs from main page search results. fwiw, via olivier's post, i discovered that nick denton had already contemplated and dismissed this idea.

anyway, both olivier and phil make good points and phil is particularly adept at using my own example to weaken my argument:

"However, someone else (if they are at least half-bright), searching for that phrase because they have a broken window crank on their Galaxie, could go to Eric's weblog, track down the entry, see the magic words "i'm fortunate to have the original shop manual", track down his email address, and ask him if he'd be willing to trade copies of a few pages for some extra parts. That's quite a bit more useful than the other results, offering to sell one car with a missing window, a Galaxie, and yet another car with a particular crankshaft."

olivier generalizes the point and highlights a particular "mode" of searching in which blogs are extremely helpful:

"Well, Google has figured out that blogs are useful pre-surfing resources full of links and context. They don't necessarily think that your weblog is the best end destination for your query, but it's probably a good lead to find an actual page or site to answer it. Blogs and their brethren are good at digging the best of the web (where else do you find the kind of stuff there's on Boing Boing, Memepool or Muxway?) If your blog entry is just one degree of separation from a page that will fulfill a web query, that in itself is valuable."

of course, the weakness of making this argument is that it's dependent on the quality and appropriateness of blogs posts that you are "presifting" through. phil understands this, and it's why he's feeling a little bad about not doing his duty to provide any useful information after finding himself as the authoritative resource for "http error 500". it's a debatable point that as the number of active bloggers increase that the signal in the presifting will remain high. even more importantly - and i have nothing but anectode to support this claim - i don't think that most people want to engage in or "get" this presifting search behavior. it's confusing to them. and anything that is confusing to most users is A Bad Thing for google. evidence of the confusion can be found in andrew brown getting questions about car repair in his blog. and phil ulrich getting comments from pissed off "random searchers", demanding to know, "WHERE IS THE INFO ABOUT (X)? I GOT HERE THRU GOOGLE NOW WHERE IS IT?".

to my naive eye, this means something is broken and it's potentially more important to google than placating advertisers. obviously i could be making something out of nothing and artfully taking a few anectdotes out of context, but i suspect that these are early warning signs. maybe google can tweak the algorithm to just devalue blogs, which doesn't feel like The Right Thing To Do. or maybe they could just take blogs text out the general mix [ but not stop milking the pagerank value ] and put them in a separate tab. or maybe they could differentiate the results in a way that is similar to the way they display "traditional" news items when you use a search term that picks up news stories on the general search page. this feels natural to me. maybe jason can put together a smooth mockup.

or maybe i'm full of crap.

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5/20/2003 09:35:00 PM 0 comments


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[ rhetoric ]

"it is hard to be brave," said piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal." rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: "it is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us."

the complete tales & poems of winnie the pooh

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this site chronicles the continuing adventures of my son, odin, who was unexpectedly born on the fourth of july at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces.

he's quite a fighter and you can always send him a postcard to the most current address listed here if you're inspired by his adventures. see the postcard project/google maps mashup to see a map of the postcards.

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