Bad Search Engines Borrow. Great Search Engines Steal.

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land has an excellent recounting of the initial story from Google. The short short version for the TL: DR crowd:

Google noticed that Bing’s top 10 for certain results had become very close to Google’s top 10, even yielding the correct result when there was spelling errors. Google decided to code a line that would manually make certain unrelated websites the #1 result to a list of nonsensical words. Google engineers were told to use Internet Explorer from their home computers with the Bing Bar and Suggested Sites (an IE feature) turned on and run Google searches for these nonsensical words. (The Bing Bar has an option to send search data to Microsoft.) After a period of two weeks, searching Bing with the nonsensical words yielded the same #1 result as Google. Google claims Bing is stealing their results. Bing says Google stacked the Bing results by running the same search over and over again in their Bing bar.

Silicon Valley slapfight, ahoy!

To me, this story is a big non-starter. Perhaps my indifference is misplaced, but it’s hard to get very excited about two multi-billion dollar corporations trading shots over proprietary search result algorithms. It is nice to know that they aren’t kidding when they say that they will use any data you are willing to share with them in order to make for a ‘better search experience’. Even if that experience is the product of a little corporate espionage.

Maybe libraryland will get lucky and Bing will start stealing content from Google Books or Scholar. That might get me out of my chair.