September 27, 2013

Google Hummingbird Update

There was a recent update announced by Google, the Hummingbird Update. It is designed to make search engine results better. Weather it actually make them better or not, I guess only time will tell, and lots of user options.

Still today I used it to search on a history topic of mine, a hobby interest. I see that opten Wikipedia still ranks number one of the topic in question, ahead of the organization who’s history it was writing about. It is interesting to see that Wikipedia articles are ‘more true’ in the eyes of Google than  the official page of the organization which is the topic of the Wikipedia article.

The big advantage of Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute to it. The disadvantage is that anyone can edit or delete the hard work of others if they do not agree with it, or it they do not want anyone else’s contributions but their own to show on that page. When, as happened to me this am, you spend hours adding what you thought was a well meant, objective, well written, top notch contribution to the Wikipedia page, only to have to slashed and burned in an angry fit by another user minutes later who was outraged that you dare update their page! It is their page! They own it! Only they can determine the truth! Well, it can kinda get under your collar a bit. Lesson learned, don’t bother to contribute to Wikipedia, which is a shame really.

So back to the Google Hummingbird Update. In the case of the above instance this one person can now determine what is truth for a specific topic, and Google will blindly give it precedence over the official site of that topic, and indeed all results for that topic because it is on Wikipedia. Somehow that seems a bit flawed to me.

So to take this example to the silly extreme, lets say I wrote an untrue nonsense article into a Wikipedia article that they had sacrifices at night on an alter in front of the Googleplex, quoted a tabloid article, next to martian get woman pregant, and presto it will now rank higher than for Google results? For most any topic but Google that might be the case! That is the danger in giving to much automatic weight to Wikipedia. Hopefully ongoing updates to Hummingbird will address that sort of stuff.

I really do sympathize with Google though. It is a  touch job to index all the world’s data and then present it in a  meaningful way to users who make queries which can be a bit cryptic, me included. Overall they do a  wonderful job of getting us high quality results. It is especially amazing when you stop to realize that they do not charge us an access fee to use Google! I mean after all to do what they do must be expensive, not to mention time consuming!

So, that is today’s rant about Wikipedia, and of course since I own this blog, they can’t delete it in a few minutes from now.

So, in closing, welcome Hummingbird, may you live long and prosper in the digital world!