Shareware Beach

Thursday, 23 December 2004

Eric Rice Finds Google Suggest too Suggestive

Filed under: Cyberspace — Jan @ 19:39

Last week I commented on Google Suggest, a new feature of the popular search engine that is in beta. Google is obviously censoring the suggestions, since a particularly popular three-letter-word yields no suggestions at all. On the other hand, searching for many popular software products, including my own, causes Google to suggest to search for pirated copies.

I’ve sent my comments to Google using the feedback link on the Google Suggest page, but received no response. I carefully avoided using the three-letter-word in question, so it should have passed their spam filters.

If your name is Eric Rice, however, the picture is even uglier. It seems that one particular Eric Rice has been the recipient of quite a number of insults on a message board that’s being indexed by Google. Google Suggest cheerfully displays the list to anybody searching for “Eric Rice”, including to children under 13 who don’t know how to spell these words, even though they can spell and even guess the three-letter-word I won’t mention today. Eric Rice the podcaster doesn’t like it at all.

I wonder what Google’s intentions are with this new feature. By filtering out some search terms, but not others, the argument that it’s all done by a machine is no longer valid. Google filters, so Google is liable.

At least I know now I’m not the only one whose feedback is being ignored. And searching for “Jan Goyvaerts” yields no suggestions other than my name. But even then Google Suggest is not helpful. There are a number of variations of my last name, so even fellow countrymen often fail to properly spell it. Typing “Jan Go” (all variations identical up to that point) does not bring up my name as a suggestion, even though my name yields 4 times as many results as “Jan Gossaert” (never heard of). Google Suggest doesn’t know any “Jan Goovaerts” at all (the name Goovaerts is more common than Goyvaerts).

What I haven’t talked about is how Google Suggest is linked to AdWords. I have no idea, but it does look like a “clever” way of increasing the number of searches for keywords that get many high bids. I’m an AdWords advertiser, but I’m not thrilled with Googles way of trying to show them everywhere. AdWords was originally promoted as being highly targeted, since only people actively searching for your keywords would see them. But that is no longer true, at least if you don’t disable the “content network” option.

1 Comment

  1. I’m just glad I’m not a virtually anonymous in the child development industry. Can you imagine?

    Comment by Eric Rice — Friday, 24 December 2004 @ 6:40

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