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Amazon has become very unpleasant to me. Their search feels more and more like a tool for manipulation instead of searching for what I want. For example I am searching for something and see 20 items. Then I click "sort by price" and suddenly only 5 items are shown. What has happened to the rest?

It's the same with Google searches. It used to be when I put something into quotes they would search exactly for that. Now they are often adding other results that don't even have that phrase. Seems they ae trying to tell me that although I searched for something they know that I really wanted something else.

I am starting to feel all these ML tools are mainly used for dis-empowering and manipulating people instead of empowering them.






I've noticed the same, especially in Google, but also in media like the "smart TV" version of apps like Netflix and YouTube, and more (like the Amazon example).

The Web used to be a place where you "go to stuff." The going to stuff required knowledge and, well, effort. That limited the web.

Now the Web is a place where stuff "comes to you." Sort of like commercials "came to you" on broadcast TV every 12 or whatever minutes.

The marketing people and the Googlers would say, "That's a great achievement, because now we can predict what you're most likely to enjoy [ or buy ] and make it easier."

The cynics say, whoa, this erodes trust and privacy, and perhaps even the human psyche which becomes this vessel filled in by data provided by ML-using corporations.

I'm with the cynics.


There is good reason to be cynical considering that the real motivation is to sell ads and not to provide a good search experience.

Eventually Google search will just index e-commerce stores and affiliate blogs, and you'll still be required to watch a video ad in a modal to proceed.


Results like these are not always malice, as other commenters pointed out search by price is not well figured out yet.

There are some issues with relevance ranking for price where junk rises to the top when you sort by price (https://medium.com/@dtunkelang/why-is-it-so-hard-to-sort-by-...) and Amazon may just be cutting off lower relevancy items when you sort by price as a heuristic.


Why would they show me one list of things when I search at first and then show less when I sort by price? That doesn't make sense and sorting is not that difficult. In ebay sorting does exactly what I would expect.

Did you read the article? They're trying to filter out lower relevance items, so that when you search "coffee maker" and sort by price, you don't get a 2.95 coffee filter instead.

But when I search for coffee maker without sort they show coffee filters. Just sort that list by price and let me figure out how to deal with coffee filters. In my opinion a sort should not change the content of the list.

And if they can figure out which ones are not coffee makers, why not show the list without coffee filters to start with?

Because I do not trust them? I've seen them get it wrong -- and once you know that "sort by price" may not, in fact, give you the lowest price, it becomes completely useless.

I would not mind if the filtering was optional; but it is not, so this is one more reason to avoid Amazon.


Product search and discovery is a hard problem, but not the hard problem they've chosen to make it in to.

It's a fiddle.


For some reason, "sort by price" is broken in most major online stores. Either it produces less results, or it returns results that are not actually sorted by price (!).

In eBay and in Walmart it works fine. Amazon is definitely the worst from what I have seen. And with Amazon I am pretty confident that this is no accident but exactly as planned.

Could be that they take into account shipping and therefore may seem broken?

Amazon has some search issues so I made a web tool for this it is a Advanced Amazon Search Tool and wrote an article how to find good products https://medium.com/@ceyhunkazel/amazon-search-hack-eliminate... and here hackernews discussion about it https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12382228

> Seems they ae trying to tell me that although I searched for something they know that I really wanted something else.

Consider: maybe you know the keyword that should be in the document you want to find... but the author of the document you want to find, didn't use that keyword. Instead, they used a synonym for it, because they were unaware of the idiomatic keyword to use.

Example: medical journals. Eventually, everyone agrees on what the term for something is. But the very first few papers on that thing, might not call it that, because they were inventing it.

Do you want to fail to find those first (and most important) few papers on the subject? Or do you want Google to do the text-parsing equivalent of "snap to grid", ensuring that documents that say the right thing the "wrong" way still show up?

As far as I can tell, as far as the output goes, correcting your language and correcting the document's language are basically indistinguishable. Google could just be thinking of what it's doing as the latter, and yet it ends up having the same effect as the former.


This is fine and nice by default, but there should be a way to disable it. Sometimes you are really searching for a specific word, and really don't want any other substitution.

I see it a lot Google searching for electronics terms, where combining common and unusual term sometimes causes unusual term to be ignored. The quotes used to help, but they no longer do.


Except that is exactly how PageRank worked in the beginning. Heavily linked pages were deemed more popular/useful while those at the edges of the network were less so.

As for your last point, metadata is all about addressing these issues. The context has to remain canonical, otherwise God knows what sort of legal issues would arise.


It seems to me there is a trend towards always correcting user input. This may often work but somehow I am looking for something very specific and I don't want a synonym.

Amazon needs to improve the way it ranks products. I think it is unfortunate that, once a company gets a good grasp on market share, they blatantly disregard the user experience.

Examples: Pinterest/ Quora subscription gate


I have been searching for large SSD sales the past few weeks and use numerous - operands to negate this crap. Ironically, when I include -seagate the G ads at the top are exclusively SG hybrid options. Typucal result of predictive analysis, IMO.



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