Saturday, October 22, 2005

The unfortunate incentives for splogging

Ranking in searches using Google was based loosely on an academic model of citations. In academics, the more frequently something is cited, the "better" or "more valuable" it is deemed to be. On the internet, this can translate into the more "other sites" link to a given site, the "better" or "more valuable" the given site is, and it will be ranked higher in a Google search. When one has thousands of hits for a search, it is likely that the searcher is only going to look at the first few, so that high ranking on a Google search is critical to a given site being viewed. Splogging was an unfortunate response to the way Google ranks things.

To take a specific example of a search, consider
+"patent reform" +2795

At about 6am on Oct. 22, this returns 686 hits.

On the first page, we have (2) (blog, from June 2005) (2)(brief undated, unsigned article) (an article on the bill by Peter Geier written 8-19-05) (an article by Greg Mayer written 10-3-05)

On the second page, we have (synopis of a seminar by John T. Johnson, undated) (2)(from a law firm) (2) (blog, from June 2005) (law firm, press update, from June 2005) (release from Prof. Inventor Alliance, 8-17-05) (law firm, dated Oct. 05)

On the third page, we have (republication of article in Idaho Business Review) (blog, from July 05) (Aug. 18 reference to my article in July 18 issue of NJLJ) (law firm, July 26 article) (blog, Aug. 29 guest blog post by Lee Thomason)

I could go on, but one sees this appears like a random mix of entries, random in date, random in origin, random in content, but somehow "ranked."

Of the entry, it is interesting to note that an entry talking about an article appears before the article itself.

On page 4 of the search, we find the same article that appears of page 1 of the search. Exactly the same content leads to a ranking on page 1 and on page 4. Huh?

At about 6:40pm on Oct 22, the search returned 685 hits:

The changes in the first page were the omission of one of the two publicknowledge hits, and the insertion between ipo and smalltimes of a reference to IPBiz.blogspot (the text about Scott Cleere; new to page 1).

On the second page, the second publicknowledge hit appeared in front of vcexperts. There were two promotetheprogress hits, followed by
townsend (2)

On the third page (press release of Professional Inventors Alliance)
moneycentral.groups.msn (New to page 3)
IPBiz.blogspot (about continuations, new to page 3)
4ipt.coom (2; New to page 3) (July 2005)

The hit to cio moved to page 4. The second hit to smalltimes remained on page 4.
On page 15 we have a hit from the Aug 05 EEJD blog and a hit to the IPT article "Imagine: No more indecision in intellectual property cases."

Through page 25 (the last displayed) my article in the New Jersey Law Journal, which was explicitly about patent reform in HR 2795 was not included in the hits.

At about 9:20am on Oct. 23, the same search returned 685 hits.

First page: (2) (blog entry from June 2005) (article by Peter Geier of Aug. 19, 2005)

Second page: (2) (law firm entry) (2)(blog) (law firm entry) (press release) (law firm entry)

Third page: (blog, entry from July 2005) (referring to July 2005 NJLJ) (law firm entry) (blog, entry Aug. 29, 2005) (law firm entry)

Fourth page: (law firm entry) (law firm entry)

Fifth page: (law firm entry) (2)

Sixth page: (republication of article by Molly Laas in FDC reports) (2) (law firm entry)

(The IPT article "Imagine" appears on page 15; the entry for IPBiz (Cleere) had moved to page 22; the entry for IPBiz (continuations) had moved to page 23).

The results of a search clearly depend on "when" a search is made. In the result sequence, a hit can move over twenty pages in less than one day.

Search results 12 noon on Oct. 25:

First page: (2)
ieee.usa (blog entry June 2005) (blog entry, Cleere, Oct. 2005)

Second page: (2)(blog entry June 2005) (blog entry) (2)(law firm entry) (law firm entry)

Third page: (law firm entry) (blog, continuations) (2) (blog entry July 05)

Fourth page: (law firm entry) (law firm entry) (law firm entry)

Fifth page: (law firm entry) (law firm entry) (2) (law firm entry)

from hankyoreh-->

Kim Cheol-su (not his real name), the operator of a popular blog, recently had a disconcerting experience. A writing of his that he had not even posted appeared on a portal site as a popular piece. When he investigated it, he found that someone was operating a “phantom blog,” presenting Kim’s blog writings intact as if they were that person’s own work. He visited the blog and left a message protesting this, but there was no response. This was an example of what is being called a “splog,” or a “spam blog,” which raises advertising revenues by presenting content from famous blogs.


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