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Google's Search Copying Accusation Called 'Silly' 380

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-not-very-silly-now-is-it? dept.
itwbennett writes "Google's Bing sting, reported in Slashdot just days ago and subsequently denied by Microsoft, is now being called 'silly' and 'petty' by search industry analysts and execs. The reason: it would be impossible for Microsoft to use the copied results to reverse engineer Google's search algorithms. And in fact it is more likely that Microsoft was conducting competitive research. Charlene Li, founder of technology research and advisory firm Altimeter Group, saw Google's actions as a misguided response to a real threat from a competitor in its core search business. 'Google isn't used to having competition. You look at this incident and you wonder why they are doing this. It feels amateurish in a way, a kind of 'they're not playing fair' attitude,' she said."
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Google's Search Copying Accusation Called 'Silly'

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  • by chibiace (898665) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @03:07AM (#35109778) Journal

    who is paying these so called "search industry analysts and execs".

  • by Nyall (646782) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @03:15AM (#35109800) Homepage

    I read the article and it just seemed like a bunch of collated sound bites with all the intelligence of a 14 year old who thinks she wins arguments by being the first to call the other a hater.

  • by Cyberllama (113628) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @03:21AM (#35109824)

    Hey it's not like Microsoft is a client of the "Altimeter Group" and Google is not.

    http://www.altimetergroup.com/disclosure [altimetergroup.com]

    Oh? It's exactly like that?

    Look. Nobody thinks that Microsoft is "trying to reverse engineer their algorithm" from search results, but what they are apparently doing is harvesting user data from clicks. It appears that when a user searches from something, and clicks a link as a result of that search, the search term and site that the user found relevant is collected and used in their own search algorithm -- so they are, to some degree, piggybacking on Google here.

    On the one hand, its good to know what link your user found relevant -- that's important data for your own search engine to have, on the other hand that's really the sort of thing you should be gathering from your own damn search engine. I'm sure that by now, enough people are using Bing that they can get this data on their own. The only thing getting it through the browser instead of through bing allows them to do is gather it from Google users as well, which is essentially allowing them to tune their own algotrithm on the back of Google's.

    It's shady to say the least. Perhaps it was created with good intent -- as discovery tool for when users are on websites with internal search engines, but its obviously pulling in a lot more than that. If Microsoft continues to abuse that, they deserve any bad publicity they get as a result.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 05, 2011 @03:25AM (#35109838)

    http://searchengineland.com/bing-why-googles-wrong-in-its-accusations-63279

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @04:13AM (#35109958) Homepage

    What's worse is that Microsoft is a client of Altimeter Group:

    http://www.altimetergroup.com/disclosure [altimetergroup.com]

    Sorry Slashdot, maybe before pushing a story to front page you do a bit of research. The story was submitted by IDG (itwbennett), one of the biggest Microsoft shills on the net. This is all getting out of hand, Microsoft is in damage control and just pushing this FUD about to ensure that faithful Bingsheep keep thinking it's "the best search provider".

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @04:20AM (#35109984) Homepage

    Sorry to reply to myself, but I just checked out Charlene's Twitter feed.

    http://twitter.com/#!/charleneli [twitter.com]

    Can we say Microsoft shill?

  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @04:25AM (#35110004)

    I think this article says everything that needs to be said on the issue:

    http://searchengineland.com/bing-why-googles-wrong-in-its-accusations-63279 [searchengineland.com]

    Essentially Bing's defense (as outlined in the article) goes like this:

    • Bing is monitoring users who opted in to send Bing data. They are watching their activity on any site, and not specifically Google.
    • The search signal generated by users does not dominate, unless it's the only signal (as Google tried to ensure it would be) it will have more weight, but not absolute. Even Google's test showed this to be true, as only a fraction of their honeypot terms made it to the other side.
    • Less frequent seach terms (the example given is pontneddfechan) Bing's results are relevant, unique, and ordered differently from Google's. Google's tests reveal the very special case where 0 signal comes from other sources.
    • What's the BFD in the end? Google alleges Bing is stealing results, but only shows one concrete example of this (tarsorrhaphy), which can be easily accounted for by crawling Wikipedia, which seems much more likely.
  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @04:52AM (#35110082)

    Methinks you are the clueless one here. The important part is indeed that Bing is essentially using Google results to boost its own accuracy. It doesn't matter that it comes through a user clicking on the first result of a Google search and opting to send that action to Microsoft. It wouldn't matter if MS had a bot directly scraping results from Google or had gremlins pick through the algorithm to send results via ESP. Microsoft deliberately and knowingly incorporated Google results into its own results, but without acknowledging this fact anywhere. That is the definition of plagiarism, and ultimately, cheating.

    If that's not the ultimate admission of "We don't know what the fuck we're doing, and have resorted to copying other people's results", I don't know what is.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Killall -9 Bash (622952) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @12:43PM (#35111772)

    The keyword didn't appear in the page at all - they manually associated it to the page through the Google database, so there was no way for Bing to know the keyword unless it was spying^W recording the user searches on Google through the Bing Toolbar.

    Like it says they do in their EULA? Like the same thing the Google toolbar does?

    The original Google press release tries to spin this as if MS is stealing info from Google. The reality is all they are doing with the Bing bar is monitoring search clickthrough. Google is evil, has been since shortly after IPO, and one day the fanbois will notice, and will jump ship to whatever the next new thing is.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by benjymouse (756774) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @02:57PM (#35112612)

    The problem, of course, being copyright, and claiming work as their own.
    Google create a false entry, accessible only through their own site.

    Bzzzzzt. Wrong. They created a public "honeypot" page available to everyone. Then they created a bogus search term and manipulated their own system to list the honeypot page for that search term. *Then* they volunteered into Bing toolbar and Suggested Sites, searched for the term and clicked the link.

    Bing toolbar - doing what "toolbars" do - reported back the clickstream. The search term appears readily available in the url of the first page, and the user quickly clicks on a link on that page. Bing's feedback analyzer creates a (very weak) relation between search terms from url of page 1 to page 2. What google did was game this system so that there were no other signals. Consequently it received relatively more weight. But it is not like Bind crawled Google or anything like that, which Google would like everyone to believe.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:1, Informative)

    by bonch (38532) on Saturday February 05, 2011 @05:51PM (#35113814)

    includes looking for an already searched term on Google and then looking at what results come up...then slapping them into your own live result list for the general public?

    That's not what was happening. I've noticed a lot of Slashdotters probably didn't RTFA in the original submission, didn't RTFA in the followup, and haven't RTFA in this submission either.

    Google employees installed the Bing toolbar and enabled the feature that submitted click data to Microsoft. Then, they clicked on the honeypots. If users are clicking on data, Bing will use that data regardless of the source, even if it's Google.com. Because Google's search engine was the only source of that data, and the search terms themselves were nonsense terms, Bing's results happened to match Google's. In other words, Bing was correctly returning results based on what users were clicking--even if those users happened to be Google employees clicking on their own honeypot. The small dataset meant that the source data was weighed more highly than normal, which wouldn't happen for standard search terms. Notice that Google hasn't made any accusations about Bing copying results for actual search terms people care about. It's only these nonsense terms they fed to Bing.

    Basically, your entire post is bullshit. You obviously haven't read up on what's going on here. But hey, it got you and several others an instant "+5 Insightful" right out of the gate on Slashdot--a pro-Google, anti-Microsoft community. Gee, what are the odds?

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