Google Blogoscoped

Friday, September 19, 2003

Google Answers vs Librarians

“Got a question? Cornell University reference librarians say they do slightly better getting answers than researchers for Google’s pay service.

The university compared its free e-mail reference service with Google Answers (...)

In the Cornell study, 24 questions – ranging from the population of Afghanistan (about 26 million) to where Geoffrey Chaucer died (London) #8211; were submitted to reference staff at the university and to Google Answers. The answers from both services were reviewed on a blind basis by university librarians, who were asked to grade the responses as poor, fair, good, very good or excellent.”
– Cornell librarians test themselves against Google researchers, September 19, 2003 [via Andy Beal/]

From the test result homepage:

“Google researchers are experts at locating hard-to-find information on the Web. Their answers, therefore, tend to be limited to freely available networked resources. Reference librarians, on the other hand, are experts at locating and evaluating information in print and digital forms, and have access to a vast array of credible resources they physically own or license.”
Google Meets eBay (D-Lib Magazine Volume 9 Number 6), June 2003

Here are some of the Google Answers to the test questions:

See the whole test result document [PDF] for all the questions, and the blind judgments passed on the answers of both parties.

*A judge comments: “(The Google answer) must be a reference librarian, judging from the thoroughness.”

Microsoft Talks About Its Search Plans

“The new version of Microsoft’s MSN Internet service, available this winter, will include a tool for retrieving digital photos based on images in the pictures. For example, users can ask their computers to retrieve all pictures that include a specific person’s face or background. (...)

[If] MSN knows that the computer user searching for “pizza” lives in a specific ZIP code, it can deliver results of pizza places in that ZIP code. (...)

[Microsoft] has said it plans to build a unified file system that allows a quick search across everything in a computer, regardless of whether it is an e-mail or other specialized document. (...)

[Researcher Gordon Bell in Microsoft Research’s lab in San Francisco] has developed a way to store phone calls, bills, pictures and music on a computer hard drive, with a search tool that can sort through it all.”
–, Microsoft targets Google, September 19, 2003

Google News Noticed Swen

As of today, Google News USA has managed to cluster spamworm Swen into a top story. News spread as fast as the virus. Here’s a selection of the last 3 hours:

Optimizing for Inktomi (and Why You Should Care)

“Everyone is aware that Inktomi is soon likely to grow in importance due to it having been being bought recently by Yahoo! Although no firm date has been given as to when Inktomi results will be integrated in to Yahoo’s search listings, it is pretty much accepted that the time is drawing close.”
– Barry Lloyd, Optimising for Inktomi – And how it can help on Other SEs!, 2003

According to Barry Lloyd, there’s nothing spectaculary outlandish to do when it comes to optimizing for Inktomi. Get a good title, get some meta-data, use headers, and don’t use spamming mechanisms like doorway pages. All approaches work well with Googlebot as well, except that Inktomi will pick you up a little faster, says SEO services CEO Lloyd.


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