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I Support Alternative Search Engines" Duck! Google’s Cutts Responds To Search Filter Bubbles

Posted on: June 30, 2011

A month or so ago, we reported on a presentation given by Eli Pariser on “filter bubbles.” We asked is personalization a form of censorship and almost 75% of you said yes it is.

I wasn’t so sure, I voted no.

Now, DuckDuckGo, a cool new up and coming search engine, is piggy backing off that presentation saying they offer no personalization, thus no filters and you get the raw internet when searching DuckDuckGo. Go scan dontbubble.us to see their point.

Matt Cutts of Google finally responded to all of this via a HackerNews thread saying:

If someone prefers to search Google without personalization, add “&pws=0” (the “pws” stands for “personalized web search”) to the end of the Google search url to turn it off, or use the incognito version of Chrome.

Personalization tends to be a nice relevance improvement overall, but it doesn’t trigger that much–when it launched, the impact was on the order of one search result above the fold for one in five search results.

Personalization has much less impact than localization, which takes things like your IP address into account when determining the best search results.

You can change localization by going to country-specific versions of Google (e.g. search for [bank] on google.co.uk vs. google.co.nz), or on google.com you can click “change location” on the left sidebar to enter a different city or zip code in the U.S.

We do have algorithms in place designed specifically to promote variety in the results page.

For example, you can imagine limiting the number of results returned from one single site to allow other results to show up instead.

That helps with the diversity of the search results. When trying to find the best search results, we look at relevance, diversity, personalization, localization, as well as serendipity and try to find the best balance we can.

I saw Eli Pariser’s talk at TED and was skeptical, although I did enjoy his example of Facebook starting to return only his liberal friends because he only ever clicked on the links his liberal friends shared.

I had a number of concerns browsing through Pariser’s book, but I would encourage anyone interested in these issues to pick up a copy; it’s a thoughtful read.

Matt then answers a bunch more questions in the HackerNews thread. It is good to get a response to this from a Googler, especially Matt.

Source
Investigate More here…
Forum discussion at HackerNews.

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