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Reports Of Google's Demise Exaggerated 141

Posted by jamie
from the stop-linking-with-yourself dept.
Several readers have written in to tell us about this GeekPress story in which the popular and effective search engine Google is scammed by an adult site operator. Interesting story. Too bad it isn't true. "My basic conclusion," says Google's CTO, "is that the scam" -- not that I think it is a scam -- "didn't really 'work.'"

Google's advantage, of course, is that its page-ranking means that the Web sites you find are less likely to be affected by how many keywords they can cram in, and more by which other important sites are linking to them. The theory is that lame sites won't be linked-to by important sites, and that therefore they won't show up high in your search results. And the theory usually works pretty well, which is why Google is my preferred engine.

The GeekPress article says that a search on "Liv Tyler nude" has as its top results some links all going to the same site which has Liv Tyler (allegedly) nude. Well, OK then. If you think that's a problem.

Google's CTO Craig Silverstein comments that that particular search query doesn't, "as far as we can tell, have any good results -- in our spot check, for instance, we couldn't actually find any Web sites that show Liv Tyler in the nude. When there are no good results out there, Google's results can be somewhat arbitrary, so it's not particularly surprising this site was first."

When I randomly checked the names of more popular actresses, plus the word "nude," the supposed-scam in question didn't pull down any especially good hits.

This was confirmed by the adult site itself. When I e-mailed its representative, he claimed their ranking for more popular celebrities like Cindy Crawford and Pamela Anderson were way down the Google list: 22nd, 38th, and worse.

And, protesting the "scam" label, he pointed me to a good article on bridge pages. The technique they're using is a popular method of getting hits which -- as long as the destination pages bear relevance to the search terms, which they here do -- is in the gray area usually considered aggressive self-promotion. It's a trick more or less ignored by the search engines until it's combined with other less-savory tricks.

(That article, and most of searchenginewatch.com, makes for fascinating reading if you're interested in the arms race for your eyeballs being fought between engines and webmasters.)

Also, the adult site operator says his site has gotten only 400 hits a day from all the bridge pages they've set up. It's hard to argue that just a few hundred clicks over to Jane Doe nude represent an extraordinary hijacking of the search term "Jane Doe nude."

Google does refine their algorithm, which incidentally like all search engines' is kept secret to avoid giving Web-spammers an edge. You may remember last year's joke of the search "more evil than Satan" pointing (mistakenly, of course) to Microsoft's homepage. As their founders comment in the recent MIT Technology Review interview, this was a little embarrassing for them, and the engine was tweaked to fix it.

And Google's CTO isn't ruling out more tweaking in the future:

In any case, we know our scoring scheme isn't perfect -- even when the sites in question aren't trying to fool us -- and we're always working to improve it. Often the problem isn't, "Why did this bad site score high?" but rather, "Why did these other good sites score low?"

We're always looking at queries that give strange-looking results to get a better understanding of how our scoring can be improved. Whether the "xnude" queries will result in tweaks to our scoring, I can't say, but we'll certainly be adding them to the test cases we look at.

Short version: the arms race continues; Google still kicks butt.

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Reports of Google's Demise Exaggerated

Comments Filter:
  • With the "evil" Microsoft link, did firings result? It seems a bit too weird to be a coincidence...

    Jaeger
    www.JohnQHacker.com
    GodHatesCalvinists.com
  • The fun you could have if you ran your own large scale search engine.. How you could manipulate queries and influence so many minds.. er.. I mean, if I ran a search engine I would never consider such a thing. Of course with all the lawsuits today, you could probably get pretty screwed up for linking something to something bad.

    Ennui [ennuiweb.com]

  • Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (cause she sure didnt..) ;).

    Ennui [ennuiweb.com]

  • OK, so the sites that advertised having Liv Tyler nude actually didn't. What's the big deal? Anyway, it's not like Google's search engine can look at the images to discern whether they're Liv Tyler or Natalie Portman or a Beowulf cluster.
    ---
  • Surely modifying the search engine to change the order the links come out without tweaking is in contravention of the DMCA :-)
  • by Ami Ganguli (921) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @01:30AM (#663452) Homepage
    Whether the "x nude" queries will result in tweaks to our scoring, I can't say, but we'll certainly be adding them to the test cases we look at.

    Yeah, I bet you will!

    Ok, let me this straight. Google is going to employ people to 1)look for porn on the Internet, 2)decide which is the best porn, and then 3)improve their search engine to rank it properly.

    I'm sure I can find quite a few volunteers in my workplace who are already doing 1 & 2. I bet they'd love to have this job.

  • dunno 'bout others (never bothered to check them since i got googling :-), but yahoo uses google..
  • I am about to give up googling. There is so much that you cant do. Try searching for the string "a-life". Google [google.com] doesn't support this. Using altavista [altavista.com] you can at least get some results.

    Basically I like the scoring on Google, and I like the absence of commercials, but it looks to me like they didn't finish the job

  • by seizer (16950)
    This was confirmed by the adult site itself. When I emailed its representative, he claimed their ranking for more popular celebrities like Cindy Crawford and Pamela Anderson were way down the Google list: 22nd, 38th, and worse.

    Is this claim hard to verify or something? I had this strange impression that Google was a public website, where we could all run searches. Oh. I get it. The writer was too lazy to check up on these ever-so-easy-to-verify claims.

    Since the company name isn't provided, I can't check it myself. But if someone stands accused of something, of COURSE they're going to deny it.

    like, *duh*.



    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @01:34AM (#663456) Homepage
    To paraphrase:

    Somebody wrote about a scam on Google, but it turned out to be completely ineffectual and nothing of any real importance.
    Liv Tyler nude.
    Just thought you'd like to know.
    Liv Tyler nude.

    Ayup. Stuff that matters.

  • Before this happened - or kind of happened as in this case. No search engine can be perfect, but Google is still the best: no banners, adverts, pop-up windows, huge graphics, pointless flash, etc.

    If it gets conned into indexing some page higher than it deserves, it doesn't take long to check out the next link. The pr0n industry will always try to beat these things because they exist purely to make money (apparently some 70% of online-transactions), so they have more to gain by this kind of tactic.

    Not going to stop me using it though.
    -----

  • by Duxup (72775) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @01:34AM (#663458) Homepage
    I think this needs to be checked into further. I would personally like to offer my services to Google to verify the accuracy of all possible searches regarding popular actresses, the word "nude", or related terms.

    Google if your listening, feel free to contact me, I can send a resume and get to work immediately. I can also send your a detailed report regarding several popular actresses and some research I've already began working on in my spare time.
  • engines - Have you TRIED Google?

    Before Google, I'd given up on search engines. To but it bluntly, the things were shitful. Rarly would a search constantly find main useful sites, and stuff totally offtopic was commonplace.

    Then I heard on Geeks in Space Rob and co rant about Google coming out of beta. I mustn't have read /. enough around then, but I went to this 'Google', and what I fould was the holy grail of search engines.... or something.

    Google CONSTANTLY gets great hits on resonable searches (resonable = not looking for porn and pathetic crap like that). Not only that, but Google loaded INSTANTLY.

    Google brought me back to search engines, and made the web useful again. Google REALLY s a step above it's search engine competition. If you are one of those people that have traditionally always used one engine, give Google a shot - I swear you won't be disappointed.

    The good folks at Google don't have any serach problems when I try, and I think this is a one-off. And considering the person was just looking for nude porn pics of some girl that there is probably no nude pics of (I don't know who the girl is... maybe there are), then Google can hardly be blaimed for crappy results - of course it can't find something that doesn't exist ;)

    Anyway, enough Google ranting for now. Just remember, the fisrt time you use it, you'll know you are on to a good thing....

    (Look at me, you'd think I was advertising... ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Email them and they'll fix it.

    Believe me. I've tried, and they do.
  • They _ARE_ linked to like 15979976 times in the article.
  • by deefer (82630) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @01:38AM (#663462) Homepage
    The last sentence says it all...
    "Otherwise we won't be able to find anything on the web"
    I know the gags about all web searchs returning at least one pr0n link, and they are exaggerated to a certain extent. There is some truth in it, though.
    But the lack of honesty on the internet appalls me. As an old schooler (I remember gopher, before this new fangled www thingy), I'm used to being able to find things quickly, and only find things that are relevant.
    With the proliferation of personal home pages, unscrupulous company webpages exporting lying meta tags, I'm disappointed in the web as it has turned out.
    Pr0n sites are they best and worst thing on the internet. Best, not for the reasons you'd think, but because the pr0n sites drove the need for high quality image and moving picture compression, and provided the need for higher bandwidth availability. But now, they are ruining our internet, along with the spammers. That said, AllTheWeb [alltheweb.com] does an excellent job at stopping "adult" links being returned from a search, and it's bastard quick, too.
    Why not _force_ all pr0n sites to have a .xxx TLD? Easily spotted by search engines, web filters and all. So all of us who can handle the internet in it's glorious tangle can find what we want, and avoid what we don't. And segregate other sites into more stringent TLD's - like .tec for tech sites, .sel for ecommerce, .hmr for funny sites etc etc etc. Everyone benefits that has a legitimate site, effectively killing these ad-laden dross sites that popup 10,000 more windows when you try and close them. The only problem is policing this effectively - maybe have an optional membership to a regulatory agency, which allows you to publish a "certified" tag, which can be a criterion for web search engines. The only problem again, is how this agency supports itself financially.
    What do you guys think?

    Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

  • Don't forget that Google has the 'cache' facility that allows you to see the page that Google has indexed. Display the cache, visit the page and if they don't match up - complain to Google.
    Richy C. [beebware.com]
    --
  • by deefer (82630) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @01:42AM (#663464) Homepage
    How you could manipulate queries and influence so many minds

    They already do.
    An ad mans wet dream [google.com]

    Not long before companies can pay to have their products boosted to the top of the search results list...

    Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

  • Before Google, I'd given up on search engines. To but it bluntly, the things were shitful. Rarly would a search constantly find main useful sites, and stuff totally offtopic was commonplace

    I partly agree. Unless you refine your searches, you get a load of crap. I myself use Altavista *almost* exclusivly (if it can't find what im looking for I'll go to others). I have found that if you know what combinations of words to use, and use '+' and '-' and quotes and wild cards, your searches can be very fruitful.

    Ennui [ennuiweb.com]

  • bastards... sellouts.. *grumble* luckily i automaticly ignore banner ads, dont even notice them (unless they're all flashy and annoying). You're probably right about them being able to eventually pay to get their site boosted, if you can't do that already...

    Ennui [ennuiweb.com]

  • They really don't need to take the time to research it themselves.
    I could offer the results of years personal research I just happen to have been doing on the exact same subject in my spare time.
  • Google spots for content, and doesnt simply grep the HTML-code like Altavista does.
    YOu have to adjust your behaviour if you want to use Google...

    --------------------------------------
  • What escapes me, is what those blokes trying to scam the search engines actually believe to get out of it.

    I mean, if I search for thermonuclar rocketscience essays and the first three hits are something like

    Hot rocket science sluts

    Thermonuclear rocket chicks

    High IQ babes with glasses

    Am I really likely to visit those blokes ? The Digital Hijack by etoy [hijack.org] was brilliant in it's kind. But it was a statement,(actually the Ars Electronicas jury believed it was art), it was fun and it was subversive.

    But going through the pain to make your smut site popular, well, I dunno...

  • The pr0n industry will always try to beat these things because they exist purely to make money

    And there was me thinking they were in it for the art.
  • by DragonC (169447) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @02:07AM (#663471) Homepage
    I do run my own search engine.

    I run websearches.net [websearches.net] which is a topic based search engine. I use my own ranking system, but the great thing is you cannot spam it at all.

    Why? Well firstly to be considered is must pass the theme check, then it checks for page spam (duplicated keywords, repeated patterns etc.) then it checks to see what level sites it links to and from.

    You still get people searching for strange terms (you can never get away from those!!), but at least I have the luxury of laughing at how people use the system. Such as the amount of people who search for "Linux" on the Linux search engine [websearches.net]! It's meaningless. It must be a linux site to get in the database in the first place.

    Dragon.
  • Don't forget that Google has the 'cache' facility that allows you to see the page that Google has indexed. Display the cache, visit the page and if they don't match up - complain to Google.

    I think the Google cache is GREAT! Lots of sites go down mysteriously or pages are moved/missing and Google has them cached so you can see them. I've used it many times.

    If you don't like the cache, don't use it! :)

    And if you have the urge to complain to Google - don't. They'll probably just tell you to use the original URL.

    rLowe
  • They are portals. Google doesn't load you down with crap, it is about as pure as it gets.
  • by Mike Connell (81274) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @02:12AM (#663474) Homepage
    > Why not _force_ all pr0n sites to have a .xxx TLD?

    Same reason as ever. Who gets to decide what's a porn site, and must go into .xxx?

    Take for example these categories:

    www.tightskirtspage.com, appears to be dead (might have been a while). It used to be a free site for people that had a thing about tight skirts. Porn?

    Feet. Lots of people into feet. Porn?

    Lingerie/Swimwear sites. Porn? Are shops that sell this stuff not porn?

    Actress of the month-fan-site. Porn? What if they'd done some porn in their "previous career" prior to getting to be a famous actress. Those shots will always appear on fan sites. Does the fan site then have to move to .xxx?

    And last, but not least: Who gets to chose? Some wacky Christian/Whatever fundie? Some drooling pervert?

    Sure, it's a nice idea. I'm all for honesty in web pages, death to pop-up windows, and dont lie in your META tags, but you can't enforce it.

    0.02,
    Mike.
  • my homepage has a link to microsoft, and the link is entitled `the great satan`, i didnt think of it, maybe its more popular that i thought! cant see people getting fired for it though; who cares?
  • by horza (87255) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @02:17AM (#663477) Homepage
    I worked on a commercial web browser, and users would tell us their favourite porn sites weren't working. So we would have to look at them (for scientific purposes, stop giggling down the back) and tweak the rendering code to be a bit more tolerant of their often sloppy HTML or whatever trick they were trying to pull. Porn sites have always been way ahead of the curve in terms of Internet technology so if a browser will cope with them it will cope with most sites. We did find it highly amusing to be handed very formal looking project management sheets, which were then splattered with references to sites like 'sex.com'.

    Phillip.
  • It gave GeekNews (Yet Another Tech News Site Running Slashcode) a chance to appear on the cover of Slashdot.

    It's a little early as I write this (3:00 a.m. Pacific time), but by 10:00 today, their server will have enough hits to give them delusions of adequacy.
  • Yeah, you say :

    +this +that +theother

    and it says `oh, you dont need + signs`

    but the results dont contain all the works you +`ed!!! great.
  • But strangely, Google turns up http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Artifici al_Life/ [google.com] as it's very first link.

    Perhaps some human indexer thought to throw that in. Weird.

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • by Vryl (31994) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @02:22AM (#663481) Journal
    ... *used* to go to the microsoft site. Now it just returns stories on how if you enter 'more evil than satan himself' into google, you get the microsoft homepage.

    This is fascinating, because the story has invalidated itself.

    Some weirdarse self-referential hoffstadteriam net.paradox has gone down.

    I assume the next step is that stories on how 'more evil than satan himself' *used* to refer to the microsoft homepage get top billing, and so on ad infinitum ...

    ... or maybe not ...

  • Yeah, I'm not knocking Google over this, though. They still need to get some cash together to maintain their service, and as services go, Google is pretty good.
    Maybe I've been reading too much Iain Banks recently; I look forward to being able to say "free as in bandwidth and CPU time"...

    Face it, corporate interests are vandalising the internet as we knew it, kind of like turning a sleepy village in South West England where people look after each other, don't need to lock their doors and play cricket together on Sundays into an inner city slum, manifest with crack whores, guns and drugs. Still, on the plus side, it's better than terminal only access over 3200 baud...

    Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

  • Have you tried Google's advanced search [google.com]? Seems to work pretty well to me.

  • If you're not searching for porn, but keep getting that sort of result, start adding "-sex -tits -nude [...etc]" to your search strings.

    Suddenly, the 'Net looks much less pink!

    (Perhaps google should add a "not pr0n!" button to do this for you? But then you'd only get smarter bridge pages avoiding it...)
  • Let me get this straight. Someone searches for pr0n on Google, and claims that they find it. Someone else says that you can't find that pr0n on Google. Someone else says you might be able to.

    So what?

    I thought the point of the Google system was that if you were searching with the term 'Liv Tylyer' the top links would be for genuine Liv Tyler web pages, rather than getting pr0n. People would shitting themselves about censorship and free speech (here on /.) if Google didn't let search for pr0n!

    This only matters if the search for pr0n isn't returning pr0n at all but something totally unrelated. Search engines, even Google, often return hits that are related by not specifically what you are searching for. Some dude searched for Liv Tyler pr0n and got Cindy Crawford pr0n. Is that going to kill him?
  • But the lack of honesty on the internet appalls me.

    ...why restrict your gall to the Internet? The Internet is made entirely by human hands; I'd contend that there is no greater proportion of "dishonest" people on the Internet than there is in real life.

    Now, if you're lamenting the fact that the Internet is no longer the gated community it once was, well, you're right.

    If you long for that gated community once more, I advise you find a prefession in academia and use Internet 2 instead. You will find nothing but fast, pure, useful information there.

  • I'm not 100% sure, but I think it goes like this: Google will first try to do a 'phrase search' and show the possible results, then it will show the hits containing all of the terms and then fall back to 'any term' ... What I would like to see though (if this is correct) is some sort of visual indicator stating the hit contains the whole phrase, all of the search terms or just some of them.
  • Google has got a 'family friendly' option - IIRC it excludes web pages with certain content and sites listed under the ODP [dmoz.org]'s hidden 'Adult [dmoz.org] section (which Google uses and also hides)
    Richy C. [beebware.com]
    --
  • How exactly did the people at geekpress find out about this? Author was searching for nude pictures of Liv Tyler?
  • Google is still the best, but I'm afraid this scam is working. I've noticed that I've had to dig deeper and deeper to find what I'm looking for, and loads of junk sites rank high.

    For intstance The New York Times claimed that the New York Post ran a story called "Liar, Liar" about Al Gore. Looking for Gore and "Liar, Liar" brought up a pile of duplicate pro Gore pages so badly written that they might as well have been porn. It seems obvious that the Gore team knew this trick and that it worked.

    Oh well, it's politics who cares right? Wrong. In fields closer to my heart, such as nuclear information, it's really a pain in the neck to find useful stuff. He who shouts loudest is not always best, and is more often just an ass.

  • Whether or not this scam worked, the problem remains that Google's algorithm works by taking web pages as authorities on other web pages (there's a good explanation of how this stuff works at Quiver's [quiver.com] website, in their technical white paper.) This means that if enough web pages can get together, they form a cosy little club, each certifying the others' authority. The problem is not so much that this can be "scammed" - although I see nothing to prevent this - as that it systematically biasses the results in favour of large websites or conglomerates of websites (cf. Internet.com).

    Ultimately the best way of finding good sites has to be by getting humans to find them, but without requiring the huge expenditure of effort that actual directories need - even the Open Directory [dmoz.org] is nowhere near a full reference. This is what "favorites directories" like Blink and Backflip are about, as well as Alexa which uses information based on people's surfing patterns. Maybe an open source implementation of some of these, built into Mozilla, would be a good idea.

  • + subject -sex -porn -@##$#^erased by lameness filter$%^%^*#@.
  • The title of this article is misleading. When I saw the headline I thought 'Oh shit, they've gone bust because they don't have a real revenue stream'. {This is true: their business model sucks: not enough ads to even cover the hosting (you hardly ever see them), PLUS they pay 1c per referral, when most of those pages don't even have any ads on, etc. When the internet bubble really bursts (and I mean really, not this bullshit like xxx.com was worth $1000 billion (more than a printed newspaper, which actually sell copies) and is now only worth $1 billion), Google will be one of the sites that will go.

    This article really is a non-story - wow, about three searches are fucked. Big deal. Go to Altavista or wherever, and search for anything you'll find the same problem.
  • by StrontiumDog (226744) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @02:56AM (#663494)
    Try searching for the string "a-life". Google doesn't support this. Using altavista you can at least get some results.

    But searching for "Alife" on Google works like a charm. Google is a tool. Judicious use of keywords and alternate keywords makes it a very powerful one. Other search engines pale in comparison.

  • All material not related to pr0n can be placed under the main page www.whatever.com while all material that would be "pr0n" should be placed under a domain with another extension. Something like www.whatever.sex/xxx/bad/not/whatever extension you can think of. That way you should be able to configure a browser to ignore these pages or to notify some sort of warning.

    Warning, you're about to see Natalie Portman naked. Be ready to be spoiled for the rest of your life!!!

    Sorry, couldn't resist. As far as determining what is pr0n and what not, this could be rated the same way movies/computer games are.
  • Who cares ? It's just spam porn.. if someone wanted to see Liv Tyler nude they'd have better luck just walking up to her and asking. The only people who can't grok the spam phenomenon shouldn't be told of Google anyway, it's too good for them. Just like we have safety scissors for clumsy kids, well we have safety (stupid) search engines (*cough*Altavista*cough*) for clumsy users.

    Google should use a two-handed key combo for the "Search" button... No more one-hand-surfing AOL'ers.
  • I guess your right, they do need to stay afloat somehow. I dont really mind banner adds on free things, as long as they're not too obtrusive.

    Still, on the plus side, it's better than terminal only access over 3200 baud...

    haha, i know what you mean. the words "ill work for bandwidth" come to mind. there was a time where i'd have sold my soul for a decent high speed connection.. heck, if i didnt have one now, i probably still would.

    Ennui [ennuiweb.com]

  • > As far as determining what is pr0n and what not, this could be rated the same way movies/computer games are.

    Those things that are rated completely differently all over the world? How would this work with the internet (or the *WORLD* *WIDE* web) again?

    Which global internet police-force is going to enforce this? None, thank goodness!

    best wishes,
    Mike.
  • ...do you have a link to a mirror?
  • Then again, a search for apache htaccess failed. Maybe I should have included linux in the search criterium.
  • by Vryl (31994) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @03:19AM (#663501) Journal
    Man, I use googles 'safe search' to cut out the pr0n and limit my queries to english only pages.

    It works bloody bagus maaate.

    Basically, google rocks, especially on older computers, or in lynx.

    In the old days, hotbot and altavista were great, but became filled with crud and altavista's 10 result limit peeved me.

    When google came along it was a breath of fresh air, and the features it continues to add continue to add value, not subtract like the mess on other engines.

    Raging is pretty good, but I don't see the point, since it is a shameless clone of google.

  • Ok, good point. So imagine all the "civilised" countries signing a big agreement on this. Will this mean that all pr0n site companies will have ther servers hidden somewhere in the jungle? Should have a nice impact on bandwidth.

    Which global internet police-force is going to enforce this? None, thank goodness!

    Parents united? Sorry ,bad joke.
  • Actually, thats not really very likely. When (if) the bubble bursts Google are more likely to be one of the few that remain. They don't have a particularly good business model true, but they do have a tangible product. People will always want information, the faster and more accurate the better. If people are using the search engine then other people will pay to advertise on it. Fortunately for all of us the groovy guys behind Google haven't sold out. They could well promote the site as 'most popular search engine' or biggest' or whatever, they could come up with 'MyGoogle' or 'GooglePassport'. But they haven't. Just because they aren't assimilating users at the rate of AOL or MSN doesn't mean they're bad.

    I'm just glad they haven't started on the patents yet.
  • And there was me thinking they were in it for the art.

    That's why the actresses do it. It all depends from which side of the camera you come.
  • Search Google for Rob Malda picture [google.com]

    --

  • Ok, let's try this out.

    rob malda nude [google.com]

    The first ten results are a nice cross-section of opensource/geek sites - advogato, slashdot, the Sync, E2, Salon Mag.

    But really, does anyone care if google's results on nude stuff are sub-optimal?

  • I can't imagine *any* civilised country agreeing to this.

    Partly because it's inherently uncivilised, but just as much because of my origional point: there is no *global* agreement on a definition of porn.

    Even with a catch-call bound (I guess most countries could agree on a definition of hardcore porn). What good would that do? The servers can still be hosted in these "civilised" countries, and registered under the .sex domain, whilst the same company sets up a www.noporn-really.com site in some ""uncivilised"" country that is nothing but links into the main server - so no bandwidth problem.

    If the previous suggestion of forcing all porn into a certain domain didn't sound like a world police state to you, how about making it illegal to link to porn from a nonporn domain?

    Even the USA wouldn't pass that law! Probably ;-)

    0.02
    Mike, posting without +1 'cause this is waaaayyy offtopic ;)

  • While I can understand this technique works for porn star names or teen celebrities, I had the same problems while looking for drivers for a video card.

    Here's the link [lineone.net] to a grab of the page.

  • Actually that is precisely the point. Google does not index pages based on content per se, but what other sites think of the contents of that site. So if I have many sites related to topic abc linking to your site on the same topic, the rating for your site goes up. Similarly if your site on topic abc has links to another site on the same topic which is known to be good, the rating for your site goes up. This system is much more robust as the search engine does not have to keep track of the actual content you host, and hence cannot be misled by using incorrect keywords. And that is why it is disturbing to hear that the system has been potentially bypassed by using rings of sites which link to each other. Get it? Cheers, Anonymous Coward. (+1, Informative)

    I get it now. But I still think we should be looking at image-recognition technology for search engines. Google should be able to tell the difference between real pr0n and "Liv Tyler nude." Anyway, wouldn't it be easy enough to filter out these rings of sites that link to each other? Except in the case of pr0n sites where everybody links to everybody else, of course. He with the most referers wins, it seems. How about he with the most free pr0n wins?
    ---

  • If I search for thermonuclear rocket science essays and get back Hot rocket science sluts, Thermonuclear rocket chicks and High IQ babes with glasses back that actually deliver on their promises, you can betcha I'm gonna visit and mirror that site :)


    Bad luck that these sites don't exist.

  • This is one of the best Slashdot writeups we've had in a long time. A well investigated story like this one is good journalism.

    Thanks, jamie. And please - MORE STORIES LIKE THIS!

  • If the previous suggestion of forcing all porn into a certain domain didn't sound like a world police state to you, how about making it illegal to link to porn from a nonporn domain?

    Sounds reasonable, or at least making it illegal to do so without explicit warning. Unfortunately we will fall back onto the same old problem: what is the definition of porn? Ah whatever, I guess I could get used to being confronted with all those "beautiful" naked women while I'm really looking for information on something else.


  • by DrWiggy (143807) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @03:52AM (#663513)
    "Vandalising" is not quite the correct term, and it's a bit too subjective. One man's vandalism (graffiti) is another man's art. The problem is that there are a conflicting set of values in force here, just as there are in real life. Whilst absolutly despising commercialism in the "ads everywhere you look" sense, I understand that it underpins the economics of our society which allows me to live in a nice 2-bed city centre aparment, eat good food, have 2Mb/sec ADSL into my home (which is still rare in the UK), and in fact almost every technological advance made in the last 50 years at least has been due to commercialism.

    In addition, without porn, warez, hacking, etc. we wouldn't have some of the most useful technologies around on the net for what we do in our day-to-day lives. Porn gave us streaming live video technologies, driven forward the requirements for better video and image compression, transparent cache engines, etc. whilst "warez" in all it's forms gave us not only the idea of "free" software, but DivX movie compression, requirements for bandwidth shaping in ftp servers, etc. and hacking gave us the motive to invent and make a standard protocols such as SSL, S/key, OPIE, etc. all of which have provided the basis for legislation (in the UK at least) for acceptance of digital signatures, etc.

    It has often been said that the guys coming up with the porn sites are on the "bleeding edge" of technologies. This is because the market is so competitive, they are looking for new ways to get an edge over the next guy. It might have been streaming video, new ways to attract customer loyalty, those annoying windows that appear when you close a browser on a porn site, whatever. The point is, it didn't come about because it was porn, but because it's the most competitive industry currently on the net.

    Perhaps we can make do without it all, but without highly competitive market places on the net, technological development will starve. This would be bad for all of us. I don't think even the Amazon vs. everybody else market is competitive enough to really push things along just yet.

    To finish off, I'll also just remind you about the success of VHS and digital cameras. The reason why video recorders/players in the home along with video cameras were so successful was porn. Think what you like about people wanting to enjoy films at their leisure at home, but porn is what sold them. The ability to watch porn at home, at relatively low cost, was the key selling point. Digital cameras are the same. People want to be able to take saucy photos, but don't want them to be sent off for processing. Porn drove the market. I'm not saying it's right, or that it's wrong, but the only reason why you have a cheap webcam on your desk is because 3 million other people want to take photos of their girlfriend in stockings, in the same way that I have reasonably cheap bandwidth to my home is because half of the country wants to be able to download porn quicker. Remember that.

    This is redundant, I know, but if you could tell me where that village is, I'd be interested - I refuse to believe that such a village still exists right now, just 150 miles from where I live. If it is there, I know where I'm moving next. :-)
  • I had a strange feeling and decided to try a search for "Hot grits".
    I had a feeling I would see something Slashdot-related at the top of the list, and sure enough, this was the first link:

    Natalie Portman denounces hot grits [plebius.org]

    "/ Troll News Bureau / - In a move that has astounded many loyal fans in the Troll Community, Natalie Portman denounced hot grits at a press conference earlier today. Apparently she became disgusted after an unidentified Troll offered to pour hot grits down her pants in exchange for one goblin, a bowl of oatmeal and three hours of monkey sex."

    LOL, the trolls have spoken.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @03:56AM (#663515)

    just go HERE [temple.edu]

    Trust me, it isn't goatshit or whatever

  • okay, ALL i want out of this story is information on any and all jobs that will pay me to look for liv tyler, nude, on the internet.

    [thinking]

    wait, that's sorta what i do now...

    My .02,

  • Why not _force_ all pr0n sites to have a .xxx TLD? Easily spotted by search engines, web filters and all. So all of us who can handle the internet in it's glorious tangle can find what we want, and avoid what we don't. And segregate other sites into more stringent TLD's - like .tec for tech sites, .sel for ecommerce, .hmr for funny sites etc etc etc.

    Off-topic, but:

    Is there some reason that TLD's should only be three letters? Why not .SELL for e-commerce, .TECH for technical sites, etc, etc?

    :wq
  • In fact, if we keep on mentioning Liv Tyler nude, this page should then rank higher than the 'scams' for the search "Liv Tyler nude". Perhaps with some real effort here we could make Slashdot.org the top ranking hit on Google for Liv Tyler nude, so that anyone looking for Liv Tyler nude would come here instead of a site that claims to feature Liv Tyler nude?
  • try typing in "best search engine" into Google.

    #1 Searchenginewatch.com

    #2 AltaVista !?!

    #3 Google

    I guess the boys over at Google keep from doing *too* much tweaking of their settings...
  • Well try getting a bit of smarts and reading the help.

    Doh!

    Try "apache and htaccess".
  • by Stephen (20676) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @04:19AM (#663521) Homepage
    I think the scammers hadn't understood Google's algorithm. The way I understand it, creating a ring of pages doesn't work. You only get a high rank if other highly ranked pages point to you. So if you create a ring, none of your pages get high ranks, unless other good people point to one of them.

    From Google's page [google.com]:

    Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

    Or from a recent interview [techreview.com] with the inventor:

    Q: Couldn't I create a series of Web pages at every site offering free space, link them to each other, and thereby create higher rankings for myself?
    A: No, that wouldn't work. The way the math is designed, you need external approval.
  • ...discussion.

    [pr0n] [ridiculopathy.com]

    /. will get so many hits, it will be like slashdotting itself.

    [more pr0n] [ridiculopathy.com]

    Halloween coverage [ridiculopathy.com]

  • If you like Altavista, you may like to try Raging Search [raging.com]. It's made by altavista, using the altavista engine and database, but without all the stupid portal crap - just like the Google interface.

    Using a combo of Raging and Google, I can find most things that I want with very few troubles at all.
  • But they're not banner ads. Look at the samples [google.com]. They're unobtrusive blue text boxes on the right hand edge, clearly labelled "Sponsored Links". IMO, Google has once again managed to maintain cleanness and usability, even while selling ads for specific phrases.
  • Google is a good search engine, but sometimes the algorithm does not do so well.
    For example, the top three results in a search for credit card [google.com] are p0rn.
    This is of course a real headache for companies like the one I work for that do things like compare credit cards, not to mention people actually looking for credit cards.
  • Not long before companies can pay to have their products boosted to the top of the search results list...

    It's already happened: eSpotting [espotting.com]

  • Not long before companies can pay to have their products boosted to the top of the search results list...

    Too late... already happens... This is the whole basis for GoTo [goto.com]. Check out the "What We Do" section on their Our Company: Who We Are and What We Do [goto.com] page.

  • The following links will direct you to the Liv Tyler nude site [slashdot.org]. This is only a test.

    You would have to set many links to Liv Tyler nude [slashdot.org]. If you want to see her all nude [slashdot.org], you'd have to click here [slashdot.org], which would actually be slashdot [slashdot.org]. Making more links might make Liv Tyler [slashdot.org] searches return to slashdot.
  • Nonsense. Any simple web of trust [epinions.com] algorithm could take care of this. Yes, it will take more computer hardware and software sophistication, but we have Moore's law to guarantee that that will happen. The key problem here is that Google bases rankings from all sites the same, instead of using a "web of trust" method of weighting rankings.
  • I'm guessing they would have much different results if they put in 'Natalie Portman naked'... Most likely would point straight to SlashDot [slashdot.org].

    That would be a little disappointing if you were searching for 'naked and petrified' and found 'News for Nerds. Stuff that matters'.

    --
    Gonzo Granzeau

  • by Steeltoe (98226)
    Google's CTO Craig Silverstein comments that that particular search query doesn't, "as far as we can tell, have any good results -- in our spot check, for instance, we couldn't actually find any Web sites that show Liv Tyler in the nude. When there are no good results out there, Google's results can be somewhat arbitrary, so it's not particularly surprising this site was first."

    They search for "Liv", "Tyler" and "nude" and get pointed to a porn site where they actually have Liv Tyler in the nude. Not only that, but the site is even free for annoying banners and pop-up boxes This sounds to me like some kiddies where looking for a filthy pr0n site with Javascript to broadcast their registry, but got a decent result instead! Ouch. Bummer. Surely a destructive blow to Google.

    - Steeltoe

  • If you`re talking about Langley then hell yeah!

    ;)
  • Now it just returns stories on how if you enter 'more evil than satan himself' into google, you get the microsoft homepage.
    This is fascinating, because the story has invalidated itself


    Actually this story is about how a site that shouldn't be linked to from "trustable" pages appears as such. Google denies it because irrelevant sites are not linked from trustable pages.

    And now, GeekPress and Slashdot have linked to this site. So they are making it worthy of appearing in Google!

    Actually, it's all a plot. The celeb site managed to get traffic from GeekPress and the celeb site and GeekPress managed to get traffic from Slashdot.

    These porn sites are really ahead of the rest in promotion. Hofstadter marketing!
    __
  • The more important thing is the variation in standards around the world.

    In Europe, TV adverts for shampoo might show a naked woman. Not in the coy 'it's ok to show the side of a breast but not a nipple' way that you see in the US, but a straigh front view of a woman shampooing her hair in the shower. In the UK tabloid newspapers have a topless woman on page 3. Both of these would be considered pr0n in the US, but are just part of normal society in Europe.

  • Heh. I thought of this too. Especially since I frequently run into Slashdot postings/articles/whatever when doing searches on Google.
  • It seems as my other favorite Google Easter egg is gone as well.... "so long and thanks for all the fish" used to have Yahoo! as it's first result. They probably changed this when Yahoo started using Google.

    I think "crappy software" used to go to Microsoft as well, and now that is gone.

  • this was a little embarrassing for them, and the engine was tweaked to fix it

    Is anyone else offended by this? The algorythm was obviously working correctly. Many sites used those words to describe M$. When they say "tweak", they really mean "break" for political purposes. Remember how everyone said "That's cool, Google returns M$ for an evil search and they have the balls not to change it?" Well, it's time to take those kudos back.

    Could someone start a free and open Google style engine with no "tweaks"? Let's not forget the whole Yahoo "Tweaking" as well.
  • slashdot cert [google.com] and cert slashdot [google.com] give different results at the top. Maybe that's useful for some people, but I like my search results to be consistent and would rather add more search terms than reorder them when I don't find what I'm looking for immediately.

    I think this is pretty recent.

    --

  • New way to generate mad hits:

    1) Pretend you've scammed google
    2) Get it published in the trade press
    3) Wait for the slashdot effect to show up

    Boom! 100,000 hits in 10 minutes, and all you need is one faked up naked natalie portman picture - customers for life!

    I'm pretty sure there's a scam going on, but google's not the sucker...
  • by geekpress (171549) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @08:23AM (#663564) Homepage
    I think that the folks at Slashdot missed the point of my article. And from what I have heard and read, the folks at Google don't quite get the problem. So I wrote up a response.

    In particuar, it addresses two claims:

    1. There are no good results to a search for Liv Tyler nude. (Google)

    2. The scam doesn't yield good Google results on popular actresses. (Slashdot)

    You can find the response, titled Still Scamming Google [geekpress.com] at GeekPress [geekpress.com]. For the sake of my Slashdotted server, I'm reprinting it below:

    ***

    Still Scamming Google

    The Case of Liv Tyler

    My article on Scamming Google [geekpress.com] has some unexpected results. The most interesting is that the folks over at Google deny that the scam has any significant impact on the accuracy and usefulness of Google search results.

    Slashdot, for example, quotes Google's CTO Craig Silverstein as saying that the Liv Tyler nude [google.com] search doesn't, "as far as we can tell, have any good results -- in our spot check, for instance, we couldn't actually find any Web sites that show Liv Tyler in the nude. When there are no good results out there, Google's results can be somewhat arbitrary, so it's not particularly surprising this site was first."

    As much as I love Google, I must disagree. I scoured through the first 30 results of the Liv Tyler Google [google.com] to prove my point. Here are the results:

    Index Pages: Most of the returned links were to the index page of a porn site, such as link #3 [celebrita.com] and link #6 [celeb-eva-stars.com], both of which take you to the same JavaScript popup hell site. (I didn't bother checking the rest of these pages, because they obviously didn't have Liv Tyler nude on them.) These links are obviously not good Google results.

    Scam Pages: Then there were the scam links, with fake discussions of Liv Tyler nude, such as link #1 [jennifer-smith.com], link #2 [news-in-review.com], link #4 [celebrity-fans.com], and link #7 [celebritie...nstars.com]. These links are also not good Google results.

    Nude Liv: Google did, however, return some pages with Liv Tyler nude on them. The best page is probably link #5 [celebs-nude.org], which popped up after three scam pages and one index page. It has thumbnails of various movie shots of Liv Tyler in the buff. Link #25 [x2z.com] and link #30 [heavenly-body.com] also has nude pictures of Liv. (I also noted two links somewhere between scam and the real thing, such as link #11 [hotcelebritypictures.com] and link #21 [hotresume.com]. These pages have non-nude pictures of Liv Tyler and a ton of links leading to various celebrity nude sites.

    I also randomly checked a few of the low-ranked pages, with some unexpected results. For example, link #76 [ign.com] has a genuine discussion (!) of Liv Tyler's nude scene in Stealing Beauty. Link #116 [nude-and-n...celebs.com] has a nude picture along with a filmography. Link #174 [asstr.org] is an Batman-ish erotic story with Liv Tyler playing "The Huntress." Link #192 [theglobe.com] and link #63 [fakelover.minx.nu] have fake nudes. Link #62 [gotthem.com] is a list of various Liv Tyler pages, some with a bundle of sexy images.

    So, contrary to what the Google people say, there are good results for Liv Tyler nude. Google just isn't putting them at the top of the list.

    Random Results?

    But Google's problems do not end with the jumble of bad results for the Liv Tyler search [google.com]. Google repeatedly puts the fake discussion pages of Nude Celebrity World News [celebrity-world-news.com] at the top of the search results in a huge number of searches for nude celebrities. But don't take my word for it. Google for yourself using the list of celebrities [slashdot.org] created by Nude Celebrity World News [celebrity-world-news.com] (modified to automatically search Google). You'll see the domains of www.jennifer-smith.com, www.news-in-review.com, www.find-thys.com, www.celebrity-locator.com, and www.celebrity-fans.com at the top of the list more often than "randomly."

    Personally, I checked 50 of these searches, making sure to hit popular female celebrities like Meg Ryan [google.com] and Heather Locklear [google.com]. Here are my results:

    3 searches yielded all top five search results (e.g. Kathy Bates [google.com]).

    9 searches yielded all top four search results (e.g. Bo Derrek [google.com]).

    16 searches yielded all top three search results (e.g. Linda Hamilton [google.com]).

    3 searches yielded both top two results (e.g. Lara Flynn Boyle [google.com]).

    1 search yielded the top result.

    In all of the above searches, I just counted the set of top results, ignoring the matching results lower in the top ten.

    Most importantly, however, is the fact that 16 searches for popular celebrities had at least one result in the top 10 (e.g. Toni Braxton [google.com], Janet Jackson [google.com], Nicole Kidman [google.com], Meg Ryan [google.com], Heather Locklear [google.com], Alicia Silverstone [google.com], and Sandra Bullock [google.com]).

    Only 2 searches did not yield any results in the top ten: Demi Moore [google.com] and Jennifer Lopez [google.com].

    These results are not random, as Google claims. Clearly, the sham discussion pages created by Nude Celebrity World News [celebrity-world-news.com] have worked their magic on Google. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is in the search results.

    So I stand behind my the point in my original article [geekpress.com]: Google has been fooled into repeatedly returning, as highly-placed results, pages which any human can identify as search engine spam.

    ***

    About the Author

    Diana Hsieh is the owner and co-editor of GeekPress [geekpress.com], an irreverent filter for the most unique and interesting technical news of the day. She also sporadically writes and lectures on philosophy, Objectivism [olist.com] in particular. She can be reached via e-mail to diana@geekpress.com [mailto].

    © 2000 Diana Hsieh. Permission to reprint will be granted upon request.

    -- Diana Hsieh

  • by Jerf (17166) on Tuesday October 31, 2000 @09:07AM (#663566) Journal
    I'm sorry I don't have moderation points today or I'd mod you up :-)

    Two honest questions:

    Google uses some sort of metric-of-trust system that is supposed to prevent this sort of abuse. None of us know the internal mathematics of this system, so we don't know if self-referential loops are given no weight, or merely reduced weight.

    Given that a search for "[celebrity] nude" has little information to go on, significantly less then "[celebrity] nude pictures", as demonstrated by your finding some interesting results like honest conversations, exactly how is Google supposed to tell that these pages are fake?

    If one could see the trust metric on all of the search page hits, I'd lay money that as compared to the trust metric for Microsoft, none of those pages are very trustworthy. There are probably a couple of external links validating the "Nude Celebrity World News", and despite the self-referential loops in their pages, this slight boost may have been enough to give them the advantage over all of the other results you cite, which are meaningful only in the broad sense... I can't say any of the ones you cited are "definately" what "[celebrity] nude" would be searching for.

    Thus, in all probability, we are looking at a "fraud" where on a 100 point scale that I'm making up right now, some site scams its way into giving itself an extra point. w00p! I don't think this scam could even come close to displacing the Microsoft Windows Home Page from the top result of searching for "Windows", which may have a trust of 99.9%. The only reason you can even see the effect of this "scam" is because you are plumbing around in the lowest trust areas of the Google database. In four weeks (or however long it takes Google to index these pages) I'll lay money that the top two hits for Liv Taylor nude will be this slashdot discussion and your site. The trust metrics of Slashdot and the one your site obtains by being linked from Slashdot will blow this "scam" out of the water.

    Unfortunately, this discussion will also validate the Nude Celebrity World News (which is why I'm not linking to it here). In fact, this scam will work vastly better now that it's only two clicks from Slashdot. To really pull this off, you need trusted domain names, which we just handed them on a silver platter.

    Looked at in this light, I think Google's reaction makes sense. I regret needing this lengthy explanation, but my questions are, what exactly do you think Google should do, and in light of the fact that the "scam" is probably almost (but not quite!) complete ineffective, why is this a problem?

  • Try this->All the gopher servers in the world (that we know of) [ptloma.edu]. It should work in most web browsers.

    Fist Prost

    "We're talking about a planet of helpdesks."
  • Actually, it's much simpler. The site administrator decides for themselves. Certainly any site whose primary offering was pornography would prefer to be in the .xxx domain, because they will more easily reach their target audience that way.
  • That is absolutely ludicrous. The whole point of wanting porn sites to be in the .xxx domain is to make it easy to block them and keep people from accidentally stumbling on them. When the target audience is everyone, it is not in their interest to make themselves scarce.
  • No more channel surfing when commercials come on!

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