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Google Patents Editorial Favorability

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The US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Google a curious patent on Tuesday, filed for in 2000. The patent covers a “system and method for supporting editorial opinion in the ranking of search results.” Observers are still uncertain if the patent is merely an “artifact” or a signal for a new direction in Google News.

The patent application has some familiar names on it: Krishna Bharat, who invented Google News; and Marissa Mayer, Google’s resident genius hottie executive.

Covered in the patent is the introduction of human editors to the process who decide if a source is “favored” or “non-favored.”

From Bill Slawski’s exploration of the patent:

1. Favored Sources – Identified sources of useful or authoritative content on the desired subject.
2. Non-Favored Sources – Identified as sources of misinformation or over-promotion on that subject.

Example

For the query theme “sites that provide free downloads,” web sites providing free software downloads would be considered “favored sources” and web sites that mislead search engines with words such as “free” and “download” (popularly known as “spam techniques”), but do not in fact provide access to free downloads, would be considered “non-favored sources.”


There’s much discussion on the subject already, with a few speculating that it could signal a move into social search or a new direction for Google News. The timing is the most interesting part. Late last Spring Marissa Mayer spoke of changes coming to Google News. Also a recent deal between Google and the Associated Press was cited by Google as a harbinger of a new product on the horizon.

Does the awarding of this patent fall into play there?

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