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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Matt Cutts on Human-made Algorithms

John Battelle has an interesting interview with Google’s Matt Cutts. I’m grateful someone at Google finally openly stated the following:

When savvy people think about Google, they think about algorithms, and algorithms are an important part of Google. But algorithms aren’t magic; they don’t leap fully-formed from computers like Athena bursting from the head of Zeus. Algorithms are written by people. People have to decide the starting points and inputs to algorithms. And quite often, those inputs are based on human contributions in some way.

Compare this to the kind of phrases appearing on Google sites, like Google News (my emphasis)...

Our articles are selected and ranked by computers that evaluate, among other things, how often and on what sites a story appears online. As a result, stories are sorted without regard to political viewpoint or ideology and you can choose from a wide variety of perspectives on any given story.

... or Google’s explanation of offensive search results:

A site’s ranking in Google’s search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query. (...) Our search results are generated completely objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google.

On another note, the interview also mentions that the W3C added a “nofollow” directive to their “paid link directory” of supporters (see previous post), and that as a rule of thumb, for every page on the web there are 10 links.


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