Search Engine Ingredient Labels?

    April 20, 2005

Halley recently wrote about the lack of search engine transparency in Search Products On The Supermarket Shelf and said …

If I made an analogy to this lack of transparency in search engines with a supermarket shelf full of 50 types of yogurt, or cookies, or soup, there is one striking difference with search products. I really don’t know what’s inside, but I gobble them right up anyway. When it comes to the foods I mentioned, I could most likely pick out the one with the lowest fat content, the one that has low or no carbs, or the highest salt content. I could turn the package around and verify my assumptions. I’d never pick one without looking at the contents.

That search engines just sit out there dumbly with no “Nutrition Facts” label seems insane to me. We really don’t know what we’re buying when we make a decision to search in Google or MSN or Amazon’s A9. (Maybe all the geeks do, but “regular folks” don’t.) I’m not saying I want to know the mind-numbing details of the search algorithms, but I would like some sort of product description of what I’m actually searching through to help me know what search engine I need.

However, I’m left wondering what she’s really after. I understand that she wants more information about what’s going on behind the scenes, but I still don’t know what she wants to know.

So, I’ll ask the question here. Aside from simply publishing a ranking algorithm, what are the bits you’d like to know more about?

Link: Search Products On The Supermarket Shelf

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

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