More on Google’s “Digg-like” social search
I’ve been using Google’s “Edit Search Results” since I blogged about it yesterday, and I have a couple further observations.
This is fun.
Whether or not I’m actually having a lasting effect, it feels great to “bury” a worthless search result, or give props to my favorite results.
“Edit search results” doesn’t work across all Google properties
I didn’t think it would, but wouldn’t that be cool? One of the most logical uses for such a tool is in the blog search arena, where user feedback could supplement the relevance and freshness score assigned by the Google. Unfortunately, the cute grey icons are nowhere to be seen in Google’s blog search. So to influence blog search results, you’ll have to stick with the tried and true: vote with your blogs… Feel free to throw me a link while you’re at it :)
Editing results for one term can alter results for another search
Someone hit my server logs searching for “google edits”, so I checked it out:
You’ll notice that there’s an altered result already on this page. That’s one of the pages I promoted while playing with this feature for my last post, but I promoted it for the search “edit search results”. So it appears that my edits affect more than just the terms I use them on.
“Edit Search Results” isn’t available for all of Universal Search.
You’ll notice that the first result in that screenshot comes from Google’s video search. You’ll also notice that it is lacking the telltale grey icons, which means I can’t promote, demote, or comment on this result. Further testing showed that this is also the case with supplemental news, image and blog search results.
You might also notice that it’s above my previously promoted search result. In the spirit of science, I played with things a bit… Clicking the promote button on my already promoted result moved it above the lamesauce YouTube video:
Clicking the down arrow returned it to its proper place in the SERP, which apparently was pretty close to the top anyway:
Promoting the result moved it below the YouTube video, and promoting it once again moved it above the YouTube video. I promoted a couple more relevant links, added two or three other posts covering the topic, and moved on.
Altering search results only changes the exact link you promoted/removed
Similar links aren’t detected, and whole folders, subdomains and domains aren’t promoted. If a link differs by a search query or a session ID, it’s shown as unaltered in the SERP. This means that promoting a category page on a blog wouldn’t have an effect on the results positioning for a post in that category.
Not very many people are using this
Or maybe they search for different things than I do :)
The “everyone’s edits” page isn’t very forgiving. When I search for “tech crunch” it shows none of the edits made for the query “TechCrunch”:
It does suggest the alternative “techcrunch”, but even that result hasn’t seen much use. Only eight total “promote” clicks for “TechCrunch” results.
Anyone know what SWM stands for?
The Google search url that returns “everyone’s edits” uses the GET variable
?swm=2 to the url of a regular search showed me the edits page, but changing that to
swm=1 just returned a regular search page, so tweaking that appeared to do no good. Sadly, adding it to the url did absolutely nothing on an account not blessed with the privilege of grey buttons.
This thing has great implications
I agree with a lot of the naysayers. It would be a terrible idea to replace Google’s search algorithms with a “Digg style” crowdsourced popularity result. But I think it would be great to supplement the artificial intelligence. Granted, manual adjustments would return a sparse dataset. But using the results of such a system, Google could use semi-supervised learning to train their algorithms to come closer to human intuition.
As for arguments about gaming the system, and black/greyhat abuse: Google’s getting pretty good at detecting spam, so I’m sure they could figure out which users to trust and which to ignore. They could even turn their intuitive enhanced algorithms against the users, deciding who provides value to the system, and who might have ulterior motives.
This might replace — or assimilate — much of the need for social bookmarking. Promoting my favorite pages for a given search term would be at least as useful as bookmarking locally. And if the “everyone’s edits” pages were fleshed out properly, they could take over the whole social bookmarking arena.
Is this testing the waters for assimilation of Digg with Google search? That’s an intriguing idea…