Internet Search Engines
Recently my search engine of choice was pointed out as being biased. This gave me reason to ponder. The news fed to us most certainly has an emotional bias. Most all new organizations portray their stories in the view of the poor unfortunate people that have been harmed in some way. As Americans living in perhaps the most affluent country on the planet, we identify with the poor underdog people and pour out our blessings and money on them to assuage our guilt for being so lucky. As an old person that has traveled the world, I know that there is no luck but rather the hard work and sweat that all Americans have done to support their families and make this country successful. Unfortunately, my children and grandchildren now expect handouts and think that they should not work hard. OK, enough of this and on to search engines.
We have Google the big biased one. There is also many others but the most notable to me are Ask (http://www.ask.com/), Dogpile (http://www.dogpile.com/), and Vivisimo (http://vivisimo.com/). On to the test. How a search engine performs depends upon how you ask the question. So I was wondering about Christmas (currently politically incorrect). In particular what child electronic toys (not lead tainted) are available for sale. My question was “child electronic toys not lead tainted”.
Most Google responses focused on the emotional issue of lead contaminated toys. Sounds like our news organizations focusing on the emotional issue to alarm us (and sell their news). Ask results were similar but were somewhat more focused on toys. Near the bottom of the list was a link to Target toys. This link was an ad, but at least they got the idea of not focusing on the past and looking to the near future Christmas season. Dogpile had a similar toy focus like Ask.com. They typically pull up many advertisements for me because most of my searches are for products. Dogpile is a compilation of searches from several search engines including Google. Dogpile pulled up a link to Leap Frog which are electronic educational toys for young kids. Surprise the best so far but the difference between competitors is not significant as yet. Vivisimo the clustering search engine posted Toy recalls and Electronic toys as the top two links. It also lead to ConsumerReports.org babies and kids which had a link to hot toys 2007 which provided some more neutral advice to parents.
This test was started when I wrote the first line of this article. I had no clue as to the results. However, I tested these search engines for several weeks prior to writing these articles. Google gives lots of links to information – some helpful – most not – many focused on the emotional news story of the minute. Dogpile found lots of advertisements for products. To avoid this the question must be carefully crafted. Vivisimo clusters information and can help you jump to the relevant data you seek faster than Google. Google does not provide any information noticeably better than the other search engines. So finally comes Ask.com. This search engine presents information in a more usable format than the others for most common searches. In unusual searches it is marginally better at presentation than the others.
Since the results for Google are not significantly better than other search engines and since Ask's presentation makes the information presentation more understandable, I am moving away from Google and on to Ask. Sorry to tie this up with the news, but search engines track what we read there so they are linked and similarly biased. Such a bias does not necessarily help us which is my point.
Link to searchengineguide.com
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