Search Engines Full Of Crap – Debate #9,483

Since, well, forever – there has been non-stop debates about how the search engines are full of spam, they’re all about to choke and die, and it’s all the other guys fault.

The thing is, the tail in search is very, very long. The database is designed to contain all the content that can be thrown into it. By definition, 95% of all content is crap, whether it is auto-generated or loving hand crafted. But none of that matters.

It doesn’t matter because the definition of crap content is defined by one person: the user.

Take a look at the newspaper business. A page is a blank container. That page is then “filled” with content. Content can be articles, news, or ads, or a blend of all three. Are classified pages rubbish content? Not if you’re searching for classifieds. Are the politics pages rubbish content? Probably – to people who aren’t interested in politics.

The job of the search engine is to sort, and thus provide meaning to the end user. The space, unlike that of a newspaper, is virtually infinite and in constant flux.

I don’t have much of a problem finding authorative sources. I don’t feel overwhelmed by advertising, unlike the feeling I get when I look at my inbox. If a page full of Adsense answers my question, then that’s fine by me. In short, the search engines are doing an OK job of sorting information and helping me find what I’m looking for.

Being full of crap isn’t a problem, because by it’s very nature, the internet will always be full of crap. It’s only when the sorting is crap that there’s a problem.

  1. dburdondburdon06-21-2006


    the newspaper analogy is very good. However, there are dozens of newspapers to choose from. You can therefore fine tune your taste in crap. Essentially we only have three search engines to choose from. From my perspective I find Google’s page 1-3 SERPs increasingly full of crap, i.e. pages of adsense content scrapers or shopping comparison intermediaries. So I use Yahoo. But the crap seems to be creeping in there.
    Maybe we have a new concept of crap creep! As a little boy, a crap was called a “Number 2”. Interesting parallels with Web 2.0.

  2. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo06-21-2006

    I guess all analogies, like the newspaper analogy, have their limits 🙂

    One web user may characterise Adsense as a problem, while another sees it as a link that answers their question. I guess if Adsense wasn’t helping solve peoples problems, then publishers wouldn’t be seeing any cash. For me, I still find stuff easily using Google and Yahoo.

    >>Interesting parallels with Web 2.0.

    LOL. I’m in full agreement.

  3. richardevansleerichardevanslee06-21-2006

    Even though I’m an AdSense publisher when I see AdSense ads I tend to think more of the junk mail in my mail box than newspaper ads. Unless something about it catches my trust I just throw the junk mail away and never click on an AdSense ad.

  4. Peter Da VanzoPeter Da Vanzo06-22-2006

    Right. Do you think that’s what most techy/web-savvy people do?

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