Is Google trying to use human intelligence to improve search results?

15 Jul 2008 - 9:01am
1072 reads
Fred Beecher

Hi all,

Aiding my wife in playing around with a dream, I searched for "france
immigration" in Google. I got the following result set:

If you've ever searched for immigration info, you know that it's very
difficult to actually get government info. The companies that help you
obtain work permits, etc. crowd the top results. Google appears to be trying
to mitigate this by prompting searchers to suggest better results.

Look at the bottom left of the screenshot... you'll see the text "Know of a
better page for 'france immigration?' Suggest one." Then look at the top
right of the results... you can see the suggestions others have made as well
as review your own, very much like Wikipedia.

On the surface, this sounds like interesting interaction design... because
sometimes people really do know better than Google. But if you dig deeper,
problems appear.

First, won't the spammers have a field day with this one? If the model is
truly a Wikipedia one, then I assume normal people will have the opportunity
to redress the wrongs done by spammers... but they can be insistent (as the
640 messages in my spam box attest to). I worry that this will fail due to
the lower level of investment that normal searchers have.

Second, I haven't seen this on other searches, so Google has it targeted.
But here's the thing... once you've found the site, you typically don't run
another query that got you nowhere the first time. So how is this going to
get populated with anything useful?

My initial opinion is that this is either a Very Good Idea or a Very Bad
Idea. What do you all think?


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