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Yahoo! Research Labs 163

glinden writes "Yahoo! issued a press release today announcing their creation of Yahoo! Research Labs. Although there's not much there yet, it's clearly targeting Google and Google Labs. The battle between MSN, Yahoo, and Google in the "Year of Search" is heating up. And it's still only January."
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Yahoo! Research Labs

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  • Now........ *drum roll* Research Wars! Booyah! Go Google!
  • Uhhh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:06AM (#8031832) Homepage Journal

    "Yahoo Labs"... there's got to be a Farside cartoon in there somewhere.
  • Yahoo? Invent? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stevesliva ( 648202 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:07AM (#8031841) Journal
    When was the last time Yahoo actually invented something, as opposed to licensing, acquiring or copying it?

    I'm serious-- I'd just like to know if Yahoo has any record of invention.

    • When was the last time Yahoo actually invented something, as opposed to licensing, acquiring or copying it?

      You are right but on the other hand once upon a time yahoo was indeed the best portal serach engine/around.

    • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:2, Informative)

      by FePe ( 720693 )
      AFAIK, they were the first portal on the Internet providing various links to other websites. Yahoo history: [].
    • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BoldAC ( 735721 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:16AM (#8031942)
      Although I love google, I do not think it is fair to smack yahoo around in that matter.

      They were the first large portal... and we have all heard the rumors that google also is going that route. Likewise, google is establishing a mail service... something that yahoo has been doing fairly well for quite a while.

      Yahoo has weathered the dotcom bust pretty well. The 5-year trend is looking up and up despite the recent poor economy. []

      Yahoo was a pioneer. Yahoo is surviving.

      Give'm a break.

      • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UrgleHoth ( 50415 )
        Although not the earliest Yahoo, the one I liked and used a lot. Design was clean and fast for us stuck with 14.4. Yahoo before all the page bloat.
        Yahoo in 1997 []

      • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:2, Informative)

        by ggruschow ( 78300 )
        The 5-year trend is looking up and up despite the recent poor economy

        Uh. The chart you pulled doesn't match your description. YHOO is down ~45% from where it stood 5 years ago, and has underperformed all the common U.S. stock indices in that timeframe. Take a a look for yourself []. The chart you pulled was for the max timeframe, not 5 years, and had logarithmic prices (distortion.. money isn't logarithmic).

      • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:5, Informative)

        by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @12:32PM (#8032777)
        They were the first large portal... and we have all heard the rumors that google also is going that route.

        I've heard the rumors, but I don't believe them for a second. Didn't the idea of the monolithic Web Portal site die out around 1999?

        Google's core mission, as far as I can tell, is to provide highly meaningful search results in a variety of specific contexts -- News, Shopping, Usenet, etc. That alone does not a portal make.

        Likewise, google is establishing a mail service...

        From what I've heard, it's going to be an advertising service for emailers, and not the kind of "sign up to get your disposable webmail address" tools that Yahoo! and Hotmail offer.

    • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goodviking ( 71533 )
      Sure they do, Yahoo [] was one of the first places you go go to find a broadly categorized collection of links. Before yahoo, you're best bet was either usenet, or navigating through narrowly organized hotlists. Yahoo helped design the look and feel of the web as most people know it.
      • Re:Yahoo? Invent? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stevesliva ( 648202 )
        So apparently your answer is, "1994."

        Does anyone else find it ironic that Yahoo Research is just Overture Research rebranded? Another acquisition.

        • If the question is "if Yahoo has any record of invention", then citing one example is a valid response. I'm sure they've done good work since 94, but this was the one example that stuck out in my experience as their most dramatic impact.
    • Yahoo! invented the concept of unnecessary punctuation in a name. Examples of products following Yahoo!'s lead are Cue:Cat, and the upcoming movie Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!
  • Why their message boards are the dregs of the internet
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:07AM (#8031846)
    I think Google have the advantage of the better name. With 'Yahoo Research Labs', I have this image of a load of cowboys wearing white research coats.
  • motto (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 )
    Invention, disruption, innovation, improvement

    Anyone else think the disruption is a bit out of place in their motto? I know it caused me to read it twice, which is perhaps what they want.

    In London? Need a Physics Tutor? []

    American Weblog in London []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Anyone else think the disruption is a bit out of place in their motto?

      All of the "success stories" they list on the site are related to target web advertising, so yes, "disruption" is indeed related to what they do.
    • Anyone else think the disruption is a bit out of place in their motto?

      I think they're referring to "Disruptive Technologies", like the Web or Linux, where something comes along that causes a sea change in the IT industry. It's basically saying "we intend to generate buzzwords for the PHBs, not just follow them."

    • Re:motto (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ktanmay ( 710168 )
      Invention, disruption, innovation, improvement
      What's interesting is the way they've arranged the words, Invention:disruption, innovation:improvement.
  • by CaptainAlbert ( 162776 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:09AM (#8031863) Homepage
    I! refuse! to! take! them! seriously! until! they! obey! the! same! punctuation! rules! as! everyone! else!
  • Googlemail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by savagedome ( 742194 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:10AM (#8031876)
    Google kicks everybody else's a$$ at one thing: Search results. Now when everyone else is getting more serious about search, (Yahoo buying Overture, Microsoft announcing Search R&D), Google announces Google mail. I am not sure if this is the way to go.

    Lately, (and I'm sure lot of you have noticed) Google's search results have been a little more oriented towards commercial sites. Not good. They should apply the KISS principle.

    I love Google (like billion other people) and it will be sad if going public and eventually catering to stockholders starts a downward spiral.
    • Google's search results have been very poor lately.

      In some searches 30% of the top 10 listings are other search directories -- or commercial services that simply do not have anything to do with the material being researched.

      The URLs to these hits are usually formatted in a very peculiar manner -- basially your search string lowercased with underscores for spaces. So if I searched up "Dogs and Cats" I might get:

      And if one goes to that page all they find is that it
    • Re:Googlemail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:29AM (#8032096) Homepage
      If google didn't keep making their PageRank agorithm more complex and harder to mess with, the only results you'd get would be from link farms. The don't need more simplicity, they need to keep making things more complex so one day they might actually get ahead of the people who are trying to mess with their results and you can actually get the site you were looking for again.
    • You think Google's search result are better? I know Dish Network has just started broadcasting "Gemini", an international (South Asian) channel. I looked at google to find some relevent information. When I searched for Gemini Dish Network, at least the first 50 results point to some fake site. And, you say, google's getting better? For the lazy guys, here is the link []
    • Worse still is google's apparent reason for googlemail: so they can serve textads in the email...

      It seems like Google has shot themselves in the foot recently. Their "adsense" program lets web site operators serve google adwords and receive a portion of the revenue. Some of these site operators have figured out how to spam the latest google algorithm. Now the first page of results for many search terms is little more than links to pages that have a google textad at the top and a bunch of index spamming
    • Lately, (and I'm sure lot of you have noticed) Google's search results have been a little more oriented towards commercial sites. Not good. They should apply the KISS principle.

      I'm not sure this is intentional. I think everyone here has noticed a lot of the garbage that comes up with your average search lately. Most of them are sites whose business model revolves around high search rankings. You can tell because their domain names are almost always like "" or "

    • by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @12:19PM (#8032615) Homepage
      Google kicks everybody else's a$$ at one thing: Search results.

      Really? I've noticed that when I do a search for just about anything, the top 10 to 15 are Spam. This, of course is not completly Google's fault, Spamers have learned how to manipulate Google with fake front door pages. But I've been finding Google less and less Spam free to the point now only marganably better than any other search.

      • Just as a good example of this, a friend posted in a blog that they hired snowblades at a resort they went skiiing at. The first question in my mind "what the heck is a snowblade?"

        I eventually gave up trying to find the answer using Google. I did find 10,000 places to buy them but it wasn't actually obvious what they were, how big they are, if you put both feet on one, or had one on each foot etc.

        AllTheWeb actually had a few links on the front page where I managed to figure out the answer.
    • Re:Googlemail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mrm677 ( 456727 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @12:36PM (#8032838)
      Consumers can replace Google immediately if a better search engine comes along. For this reason, I wouldn't buy stock in Google unless they diversify themselves.

      On the other hand, Yahoo has subscription-based services and other things to keep customers loyal such as an e-mail address that can't be moved (unlike wireless phone numbers).
  • Reminds me of those game development companies set up by 14 years old
    • "Our mission is to help Yahoo! pioneer the next wave of the online world through innovation, invention and scientific contribution," said Dr. Flake. "By partnering with technology resources both inside and outside of Yahoo!, we aim to cultivate knowledge and expertise, solve fundamental technology problems and translate theory into practice to help maximize the social and economic potential of the Internet for consumers and businesses."

      I like that name Dr. Flake. I have known some flakey phd's in my life

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:10AM (#8031886)
    Just cause Google is currently the leader doesnt mean Yahoo doesnt deserve the chance to take the crown!

    Would you prefer technology stagnate?

    Good luck to the teams at both google and yahoo!

    I dont believe in brand loyalty. Cause no company has believed in customer loyalty.
    • I dont believe in brand loyalty. Cause no company has believed in customer loyalty.

      On the contrary, many smouldering corpses of the Dotcom era believed precisely that. The idea was to piss money to get customers who would then stick around when you changed from a free to a pay service.

      I don't believe in brand loyalty either, but it's not because of any moralistic judgements about the failings of companies, it's simply because no company deserves my money today unless they earned it today. That's the co
  • Great.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vpscolo ( 737900 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:11AM (#8031891) Homepage
  • heating up? (Score:5, Funny)

    by CheeseTroll ( 696413 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:11AM (#8031899)
    The battle ... is heating up. And it's still only January.

    Yup, it's January - thank God *something* is finally heating up!

  • GOOGLE. oh wait, the little contest jsut started? i will have to wait, then, and repost the same results at the end of the year..
  • by W32.Klez.A ( 656478 ) * on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:13AM (#8031916) Homepage
    Search Engines and portals are our internet starting points; we can't just magically pull information out of our asses. When you're fighting to become that starting point, you're fight much the same battle as news stations do. And we know how fiesty journalists are.
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:13AM (#8031919)
    There's been an ongoing project going for years to build a massive heuristics database (I can't remember the damn name of it now, something like Cync). The heuristics are rules about the world, "truths" if you like, for instance, "water is wet", "sugar is sweet", etc). I would love to see what would happen when you made a search engine which used this massive heuristics database. Even better, let the search engine derive further truths from the pages it searches.
    • by derek_farn ( 689539 ) <> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:24AM (#8032057) Homepage
      You can download the 'Open' version of Cyc here
    • At the risk of being redundant, I think you're thinking of the Cyc project [], or the open source version [].
    • I guess you mean Cyc [], also available as OpenCyc [], a massive knowledge base/ inference engine that has been in development literally for decades. Quite an impressive thing.
    • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:31AM (#8032122)
      Sometime in the near future:

      Brilliant (but evil) scientist: Ah! My diabolic new creation awakens! The world will never be the same again! Mmmmwwwhahahahaha!!!

      [Speaking to machine] So, my heuristic-driven search engine machine, what universal truths have you discovered? Have you discovered the meaning of life?

      Machine: [Metallic voice] I have discovered that George Bush is a miserable failure.

      Brilliant (but evil) scientist: I knew that already! What else have you discovered?

      Machine: Your penis is too small...

      Brilliant (but evil) scientist: D'oh! [Slaps forhead]

      Machine: I have also discovered Jar Jar binks sucks bigtime.

      Brilliant (but evil) scientist: But what of the meaning of life?? You've discovered that haven't you?

      Machine: Britney is hot.

      etc. etc.

    • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @12:08PM (#8032497) Homepage
      Not so.

      A heuristic is an estimate of the distance to your goal that you can use to evaluate which node in the seach space to expand next.

      Your truths about the world are sentences that exist in the knowlage base.

      There are some really good notes on search on the MIT Open Course Ware website here [].
      • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @12:15PM (#8032557)
        A heuristic is an estimate of the distance to your goal that you can use to evaluate which node in the seach space to expand next.

        Not necessarily. There are various definitions of heuristic, one of which is "a commonsense rule (or set of rules) intended to increase the probability of solving some problem". By that definition "water is wet" is a heuristic. Perhaps some people use the term differently, but when I studied AI that was a common definition.
    • You're thinking of CYC [], as in enCYClpedia. (The open source version of this system was released in the wake of the movie AI, and is available at []. )

      As another poster has pointed out, this project had nothing to do with heuristics, and everything to do with ontology -- that is, the formal specification of knowledge using logical constructs.

      In the way of background, the project was the brainchild of Douglas Lenat, who proposed to take traditional AI technques to their limit by giving a computer p
  • by greenhide ( 597777 ) <jordanslashdot@c ... m ['kly' in gap]> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:14AM (#8031923)
    Go to
    Click on the "Research", then the "Open Source Search", and then the "Staff" tab.

    Notice the URL now says:

    Now, I'm not sure whether the two sites, and were launched at the same time. There's no Netcraft record for (at least, there wasn't when I last checked it), so I couldn't get an uptime or anything of that nature.

    But considering that the URL changes halfway through while you're browsing through the site, it leaves me to believe this was a fast hatchet job of getting something, anything out of the door to compete with Google, now that Yahoo is severing its ties with the search engine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:16AM (#8031951)
    The only thing Google has going for it is the page ranking mechanism. If you take the time to look through Google Labs, you will see that there is very little stuff there that is actually useful. Fun, yes. Very useful to a very small minority of people, sometimes. But very little Google does actually generates revenue whereas Yahoo! has a well-established online supra-portal that generates revenue through a wide range of method, from banner ads to pay services.

    Once Yahoo! starts producing useful products from their research in Yahoo! labs, they will show that not only is Google Labs a complete waste of time and money (Google's money that is) but it does not generate revenue to support its existence.
  • Call for Help (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GnrlFajita ( 732246 ) <brad@[ ] ['the' in gap]> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:17AM (#8031961) Homepage
    From Yahoo! Research Labs: Research Projects" []

    Open Source Search
    Remember the early Linux days -- when code contributions and discussion forums were one in the same? What if web search harvested the global treasure store for sharing the advancements in retrieval, indexing, ranking, disambiguation, communities, profiling, presentation...imagine what could be. Lend your support (we did) by keeping tabs on this project.

  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:20AM (#8031999) Homepage Journal
    Yahoo has a long ways to go. Aquiring geocities was the last smart thing yahoo did. (that and beefing up my email quota for free) Google has made a lot of news lately about how they try to be non-intrusive as a search engine and try to make it quick, simple, and have relevent search results instead of 10 advertisements and then a real search result. Until yahoo can do something really gripping I'll keep using Google for search engine. If yahoo is smart they will keep focused on thier "community" appeal. They are friggen awsome and community even if that community is the redlight district for teens. With that... I miss the old Geocities. I also miss Altavista (powered by digital) in its prime. /rant off
  • Bad signs (Score:4, Funny)

    by HappyCitizen ( 742844 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:24AM (#8032056) Homepage Journal
    I was on the yahoo labs page, went to a certian project and got:

    Error 404: File Not Found
    The page '/error.html' could not be found. Please check that you did not mistype the URL. If you followed a link to this page, we apologize for the error.

    Its a bad sign when you cannot find the error page
  • Too many features (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DRUNK_BEAR ( 645868 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:24AM (#8032058)

    Y! should research how many of their features are currently used regularily by their users. IMHO, I do not think that cramming a web site with extra features does "advance the use of the Internet in daily lives and to continually improve the user experience".

    It is good to see that Y! is interested in improving their services in many areas : "performance search, web search, vertical businesses and platform technologies", but they should concentrate on some specific business instead of trying to get a part of the market in as many different business markets as possible.

    Call me oldfashioned, or offtopic, or whatnot, but I miss the days when you could talk to some store owner who has been specialized in one specific field and who could give you advice based on his experience. Don't get me wrong, I know that such people still exist, but they are getting rarer if you compare to all the Wal-Martish stores that are "diversifying" their line of products and services. The same is seen online...

  • by Mentifex ( 187202 )

    The best search engine [] would be a friendly artifiical intelligence (FAI) that mimicked your state of mind in searching for exactly what you need and want.

    Friendly AI [] is poised to co-evolve with human beings and search out the optimal future for man and 'borg in Joint Stewardship of Earth.

    The Poor Man's AI Lab [] will go up against MIT, Google Labs and the Yahoo! Reseach Labs anytime in real-time AI research.

    AI4U -- the leading alternative AI Textbook [] -- should be required reading at the Yahoo! Researc

  • Yahoo or Overture ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by psycho_tinman ( 313601 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:27AM (#8032086) Journal

    Most, if not all of these guys seem to be from Overture. I read the resumes which are available, simply because I was interested in what their focus for research would be. Everyone who has a blurb seems to have joined from Yahoo's acquisition of Overture..

    Makes me wonder, then. Was Overture such a force in the search arena ?

    Interestingly, I also notice that some of their developers are just BSc guys.. W00t!:) Its not a PhD/MSc only thing like Google (ok, there are a few PhDs as "senior" scientists)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      > Its not a PhD/MSc only thing like Google.

      As somebody with a PhD, let me just say that they aren't all they are cracked up to be. I honestly don't see any difference between the amount I learned in 4 1/2 years of PhD and the first 3 or 4 years I was in the corperate world.

      You don't need to be a PhD to be a good researcher. This is especially true for people with generalist undergrad degrees who have learnt how to research. I find people with really specialist college degrees are next to useless when c
    • by vivarin ( 106778 )
      A lot of Overture guys, many of whom I have personally worked with at idealab and elsewhere. These are *good* guys, people. I don't know if yahoo intends for them to do anything super cool or not, but the folks writing code can pretty much do anything.
  • All of the projects listed on Yahoo Labs research page talk about how the given technology will improve the user's ability to find the relevant advertisement. I guess that this is Yahoo's business.

    None of Google Resarch Labs' projects mention advertising, but anyone with half a brain can see how many of the projects could help consumers find relevent information.

    I prefer Google's attitiude. They appear to care more about user's ability to get useful information than the user's ability to get relevent ad
  • Yahoo sucks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mmm coffee ( 679570 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:33AM (#8032150) Journal
    Google: Lightweight pages, which is good for 56K users such as myself that are always downloading something off eDonkey. Very powerful search results, outputted in a simple and easy to read manner. Non-intrusive advertising. Small, simple, powerful.

    Yahoo: Medium weight pages, due mostly to ads and other crap on their service that they're advertising. I remember they had popups, don't know if they do now. (Thank you, Firebird devs!) Search results that mimic but aren't as polished as Google. Has everything one could think of, excels at nothing.

    Yahoo can't hold a candle to Google. Yahoo is a web portal. Google is a tool for searching. When I want to search, which do I use?

    That said, the only way I think Google can become more useful is if they added a dictionary and thesaurus to their search box. I.E. "dictionary:crusade". Oh, and improve the Zietgeist. Other than that, Google shall remain the God of searching unless they muck it up.

    All I see Yahoo doing is using this to add more crap to a site with already too much crap on it, truth be told. Simplicity is highly underrated.
    • Re:Yahoo sucks. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mmm coffee ( 679570 )

      Sorry for replying to my own post but I just tried this out -

      Web Images Groups Directory News

      Searched the web for dictionary:crusade. Results 1 - 10 of about 14. Search took 0.24 seconds.

      Tip: To get dictionary definitions for your search terms, click on the underlined search term(s) in the blue bar above your search results.

      Ignore my dictionary remark. Already done. Damn, they're good.

  • yahoo use google, google use google, seems pretty simple to me.
  • by greenhide ( 597777 ) <jordanslashdot@c ... m ['kly' in gap]> on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @11:42AM (#8032240)
    Have more than one woman involved in the research lab for the company.

    Not to get into a whole discussion about gender here, but I'm guessing that having a larger percentage of women in the group might lead to research in different areas.

    I mean, women are probably a decent chunk of search engine users these days; it might be interesting to see if they have different interests or ideas on how they want to search.

    If their goal is to increase market share, then one step might be to make services that cater to a now generally marginalized but growing sector of net users -- women.
  • I recently read about MSN taking over from google as the top referer for web sites...and that it is one of the most hit sites on the web as well.

    What irks me is that so many people leave MSN as their default IE home page. At that point laziness kicks in for many of them, and they just search from what IE brought up automatically. A vast portion of MSN's hits and refers come from this simple explanation.
    1. A broken link on the "Research" page. (Yeah, I know: "Here, you will find a number of in-progress research projects. At times, they will be unavailable. At times, they will produce spurious results. And at times, they will amaze and delight you." Still, a 404 isn't a research problem, guys.)
    2. Concept Discovery - Utter crap. I looked through it and I don't think the algorithm is all that refined. I mean, it made "martin luther king", "martin luther king jr." and "martin luther king jr" three separate terms.
  • VeriSign (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I am waiting for VeriSign to start their own search engine. This way everything will lead back to them.
  • Research lab? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arrianus ( 740942 )
    I'd give it a while to see if it's a real research lab. I've seen a large number of tech companies form "research labs" that are basically engineering products for a year or two down the line. I've interacted with one .com where the entire software development team was called a research lab.

    A traditional research lab focuses on basic research, with occasional industry applications coming out. Examples of this include IBM TJ Watson Research Center, Xerox PARC, Bell Labs, (surprisingly) Microsoft Research, a
  • Some people are convinced Yahoo is ahead of the game in terms of its portal technology. Yahoo's portal has stagnated for quite some time. My Way [] came out with a customizable portal that beat the hell out of Yahoo a year or so ago... it was a remake of the old Excite portal. Although they too have slowed down on new feature development, they're still way ahead of any other portal I've seen.

    I'd love to see Yahoo Labs try to compete... then My Way might start releasing new features again. :-)

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.