Other than experts exchange getting really too frequent, and a few bizarro technical answer reprint sites that exist for…fuck, I don’t know; they don’t charge money; why are they there? shitting up my results more and more, I haven’t noticed it.
Hence the “magic” part, which it would pretty much have to be.
Back in the early 00s, the internet was still mostly made of people (PEOPLE!). You could just type stuff into Google and you’d find people talking about it. These days, it’s almost entirely overrun with link farms and search term traps and content-free “Be the first to review this product!” pages and all other manner of monetizing mire pits. To slash through all that crap and find the people still huddling inside is possible, but it’s something that Google needs to be doing for us, if they want to remain the dominant search engine.
Once again, please stop using terminology that you don’t actually know what it means.
As nlanza already said, I’m completely aware of using quotes. That’s actually my problem. Quotes to google originally were a hard rule and then for a long while they became more like suggestions that Google felt fine about modifying on you without much warning.
Very recently (about the time they rolled out ‘Instant’) they’ve started adding more feedback/warnings that let you know when this sort of “we know better than you” modification is taking place, but for a while there they weren’t making it clear when this was occuring.
Yeah, the worst for me has been searching for answers to code questions. Used to be I’d use google, but it tends to give the run around, or point me to a site that requires a subscription, or a site that is just a redirect of stack overflow. The solution of course is pretty easy, just go to the sites I know are good, like stack overflow or code project, but still annoying.
The initial complaint from the bloggy people complaining about Google’s current woes is mostly irrelevant to terms like “crocodile” because there isn’t much of a market of people selling crocodiles. Most of the problem with Google right now is Google getting gamed by content farming hyper-SEOs like Demand Media and Answers.com that focus on content-spam sites linked to specific products or general consumerish topics because they want the page you land on to be filled with revenue generating adsense impressions.
Stack Overflow really should put a bit more effort into SEO. SEO in general is a bit of a sleazy occupation, but there’s no call to let other people scrape your site and somehow rank higher in search results than you.
Yeah, but that gets to my initial question–are the content farms crowding out real content, or are they just shitting up the results for search terms that wouldn’t have had any decent answers anyway? If there aren’t any decent sites to return for a query like “refrigerator reviews”, then it’s less of a problem for the results to all be Demand Media than if there’s an awesome review site that’s been pushed back to page 10.
The results for queries like “crocodiles” or “digital camera reviews” (both of which are pretty good) make me think that it might be the latter.
I wonder if we’ll come back around to hand-picked directories of links becoming useful again, a la Yahoo in 1994. All the Associated Content and answers.com and Examiner links that seem to be 90% of search results now are “content” only in the sense that McDonald’s french fries are “potatoes” (ie. they’re not)