Earlier this week, Google’s Marissa Mayer said that search was “90% solved.” Later in the week, she clarified that the remaining 10 percent was going to require 80% of the work.*
After sifting through the rubble of the Google vs. TribCo fight this week (that resulted in United stock tumbling from $12 to $3 in a scant fifteen minutes) it’s obvious that part of that 10% is going to be figuring out how to prevent problems like this from recurring.
In a perfect world, search engines and aggregators are amoral. They only re-broadcast the information that is out on the Web. If the information is tagged or dated incorrectly, the fault lies with the source, not the aggregator. But if the aggregator decides to make an assumption and modify the data, the fault indeed lies with the aggregator.
“Best practices” is one of those biz phrases that gets abused, but it’s not yet to the point where it’s useless. News sites ought to make sure they put a date on every story, and aggregators and bots ought to skip those stories that don’t. Agreed? I’m sure there’s an argument against this solution, but it’s not coming to me right now. Then again, I’ve had a couple glasses of wine so…
By the way, TribCo: You guys didn’t really “warn” Google to stop trolling your sites, did you? I can’t imagine that’s something The Colonel would countenance.
* If search is 90% solved then how come 80% of sites do such a lousy job with it?** Raise your hand if you ever spent 15 minutes searching a site for an article you knew was there only to go to Google, pound out a few keywords, and find the article within seconds? Yeah, me too.
** Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Shut up.