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How does one appear in the Google News carousel? (char.gd)
321 points by owenwil 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 156 comments

This is scary because it translates to not just centralization of news sources but also centralization of power and wealth in general. Big news publishers get their money mostly from corporations.

I think I prefer to live in a world with fake news than one where the elites curate everything we learn.

The world has always had conmen, charlatans, snake-oil salesmen and fake news; in small quantities, they are essential to make sure that people keep questioning everything.

Fake news is like a vaccine which protects us against a zombie apocalypse. Most news cannot be scientifically proven to be true; so it doesn't make sense that we should all believe it just because it's popular. Popular news sources are more likely to be true but they are also a lot more dangerous if they're not. Given enough time, these big news sources will be corrupted.

Fake news is the zombie apocalypse. It's cheaper to produce than real news, and so there's likely to be much more of it drowning out the real news. It's also useful to corrupt people's belief in the possibility of getting accurate news. The public retreat to partisan news sources if there is no source in the middle that can be trusted. The quality of decision-making goes down and it becomes easier for real corruption to flourish once everyone is accused of corruption by fake news.

> It's also useful to corrupt people's belief in the possibility of getting accurate news.

That's why the GP called them a vaccine. To be a vaccine, first it has to be a virus.

There are some odd happening recently that people attribute to fake news (usually with weak evidence, and way too many competing possibilities that they ignore), but I don't think anybody can classify the current world as apocalyptic.

Funny they should use that analogy, since one of the achievements of "fake news" in the broad sense has been eroding people's belief in vaccination. Perhaps not apocalyptic yet but undoubtedly getting people killed.

> one of the achievements of "fake news" in the broad sense has been eroding people's belief in vaccination.

That's an unusual way to describe The Lancet, who are responsible for inflicting Wakefield's bullshit on the world, and taking an eternity to retract it.

Once the facts were known, the Lancet retracted and was contrite. That's a cock-up and apology, not fake news. Fake news would be the news outlets that continued to promulgate the idea.

Sure, but getting less people killed than ever before.

Yes, ideas are like viruses. Fake news is like a vaccine because it keeps the immune system alert and engaged. That way if a really dangerous, fast-spreading idea comes along one day, society will have sufficiently heterogenous world views to limit its spread.

That's a stretch.

>> It's also useful to corrupt people's belief in the possibility of getting accurate news

That's the point. Accurate, impartial news does not exist and there is no benefit for the majority of individuals to believe that such a thing exists. All news is fake to some extent because there is always room for an agenda. The only reliable way to stop elites from setting the agenda is for people to believe in stuff which conflicts with the agenda. Whether it's fake news or not is a detail which doesn't matter.

People should be encouraged to trust their intuition even if it occasionally leads them to make mistakes.

Sure, all news is fake "to some extent," but giving up entirely is like running Windows XP in production because all software has security vulnerabilities to some extent.

There's an important difference between people who are genuinely pursuing the truth and those who are genuinely pursuing deception. There's an important difference between a well-intentioned developer who writes a buffer overflow and one who adds a backdoor.

And fake news itself has an agenda: to convince people that there is no such thing as truth, that nothing that the elites say can ever resemble truth, and that caring about what the elites do is futile because the truth is unknowable. Your approach effectively endorses that agenda above others.

> People should be encouraged to trust their intuition

The proliferation of fake news doesn't do that. Fake news just reinforces people's biases as they self-select to read a fake news outlet that they agree with, killing any remainder of sceptisism and critical thinking.

> People should be encouraged to trust their intuition even if it occasionally leads them to make mistakes.

That's how it works with real, good-but-not-perfectly-impartial news. Fake news on the other hand is almost entirely lies that remain unquestioned by its consumers, resulting in many many more "mistakes".

I am really confused by the use of “elites” in recent times. What is actually meant by the term? Am I an elite if I have finished my PhD? Do I need to be in the 0.1%? It’s such a broad term that it basically becomes useless as it means totally different things to different people...

From my perspective I am not really afraid of elites per se but false information (or lying people) spreading which enables unsocial and unethical behavior not only to continue but to thrive.

You can compare humanity to a human body... what you are describing is an auto-immune disease where your own anti-bodies are attacking your own body... just because there are cells which are “higher up in the nevous system and decide what the body should do”?

If the cells are working healthily in your interest, let them be... if they are misfunctioning and causing harm, by any means, try to replace them. Throwing around with general terms is not helping anyone in this situation.

"Elites" means people that are actually competent at their chosen profession. So real journalists, politicians and the like.

> no benefit for the majority of individuals to believe that such a thing exists

How can democracy operate if the levers are broken? What are you voting on if you don't believe that any of the information about candidates is real? Or the content of the laws passed?

The levers are broken, it's really hard to debate that at this point. Maybe they were always broken and the internet has helped shed light on the true state of things or maybe due to crumbling business models the media has become more dishonest than ever. That definitely impacts the effectiveness of democracy. Thankfully the internet is still open enough that large media companies are having a hard time monopolizing the narrative.

> Big news publishers get their money mostly from corporations.

That depends on the publisher. Subscription revenue is now 2/3 of the NY Times business as one major example. There are few larger news publishers in the US than the NY Times. As recently as 2005, 2/3 of their revenue came from advertising. That ratio has inverted. The NYT subscribers are on average 30x to 40x more lucrative than the ad-only readers.

The Wall Street Journal has been able to accomplish a similar, gradual build-out of their online subscription business. The Washington Post is pursuing the same model and will likely reach a similar balance on revenue over time.

A good subscription business will always beat a good ad business, unless you're Google or Facebook (in which case their hyperscale enables them to monetize drastically more users than they could with subscriptions).

No coincidence the NY Times has rebuilt their business and their stock is approaching ~15 year highs. Meanwhile, ad businesses like BuzzFeed are in collapse mode (BuzzFeed's ad-based ARPU is less than 1% of what the NY Times derives from its subscribers).

There's no doubt that a publisher who can convince its readers to subscribe should absolutely do that. The problem is that outside of NYT, WaPo, and WSJ and niche or special interest publications, subscription rates are far, far lower.

The accessibility and ubiquity of the big names are creating a winner take all scenario. The buzzfeeds, along with traditional regional and local newspaper media, are forced to fight for national advertising income which is becoming less lucrative and more obtrusive by the year. Advertisers have all of the leverage.

Long story short, most for-profit general news media media is in a bad place with no way out.

Convince its readers boss to pay for a sub I think you meant like the FT in the UK a lot of subs maybe for City professionals

NYTimes (and others) buys small journalism orgs/individuals that it likes. A small journalism outfit is like a startup that can get an exit via acquihire. Economy of scale is a law of nature.

Fake news is like a vaccine which protects us against a zombie apocalypse.

That's what I would've said a couple of years ago. Now it's clear that fake news is more like a vaccine that really does cause autism.

A world where the elites curate everything we learn is the world of fake news. We are living in a fake news world and have been since forever.

> Popular news sources are more likely to be true.

Why on Earth would you believe such a thing? That's utterly ludicrous.

What do you mean by "fake news"? Are you using it on the original sense that described articles by people in the country of Georgia that literally were making up stories that would get clicks and ad revenue or in the newer sense that Trump has corrupted it with, meaning news he disagrees with/dishes but still might be correct?

- Like SEO, the rules for ranking are obfuscated to prevent gaming (to a degree).

- Unlike SEO, the 'news' association for publishers comes with a standard of authority.

Imagine if it took ten minutes for OP to get their site listed and showing articles on the headline carousel. Now imagine how easy that same process would be for the waves of fake news blogs to spread misinformation. It's far from perfect but the process is not that quick and not that easy for newcomers for a reason.

The organic search results have also been tweaked over the years to put a greater emphasis on domain "authority." Google SERPs are a very different animal than they were 5 or 10 years ago -- back then there was a greater emphasis on keyword relevancy. Nowadays, you get stuff that doesn't match your search very well, but it comes from a domain that is popular, old, has lots of links, and maybe has a little bit of secret Google blessing because it's a big brand...

People commonly lament that the Web has changed, it's dominated by big brands, it's not weird anymore, etc. I think this is a big part. Google has made these changes in an effort to address some legitimate problems around spam, black/gray hat SEO etc. But they likely have some less user-centric incentives as well ($$$) and either way, Google SERPs have become more boring and less relevant.

There might be an opportunity for disruption emerging because of this. Google knows its search engine isn't very good anymore! That is why they're increasingly trying to pitch their service as a recommendation engine with special AI sauce, not an index of the Web. But frankly as this article demonstrates, what Google wants to recommend comes from a smaller sandbox and often is not the most interesting stuff out there.

If someone can come up with a distribution mechanism which solves the problem of helping the user discover All The Content minus the spammers, scammers and fake news, they will be able to deliver more relevant information than search or social media can today. Google being large actually gives them an in-built disadvantage here because no matter what algorithm they develop, it's going to be everyone's first priority to reverse engineer and game.

> If someone can come up with a distribution mechanism which solves the problem of helping the user discover All The Content minus the spammers, scammers and fake news, they will be able to deliver more relevant information than search or social media can today. Google being large actually gives them an in-built disadvantage here because no matter what algorithm they develop, it's going to be everyone's first priority to reverse engineer and game.

I wish there was a way to detect people attempting to game the algorithm, and just ban them indiscriminately. That's the only way. It probably requires AGI, though.

Just like the old saw, "you're not stuck in traffic, you're the traffic", if you're doing SEO beyond making your page lightweight and useful to people, you are a part of the problem.

It won't solve fake news issue; people could still make nice and fast sites full of lies. But at least low-effort "content marketing" spam would hopefully disappear, not to mention comment spam and all the other content that exists solely to push useless sites higher in SERPs.

> if you're doing SEO beyond making your page lightweight and useful to people, you are a part of the problem.

This is, unfortunately, an overly simplistic model. Everything can be manipulative if done to an extreme extent.

There's no individual thing that you can easily draw the line at. The question is where do you draw the line, and what combination of factors is ban worthy.

Hi there! Search Quality engineer here (though I don’t actually work on the core ranking myself, know very little about the specifics of its evolution over the years, and am nowhere near the news team). Every change we launch to search (and there are a lot) has very stringent requirements to meet. We have to, first and foremost, improve things for our users. That means a radical focus on improving the relevance, quality, and accuracy with which Google responds to your query. We measure this in a lot of ways. We relentlessly evaluate every change based on live traffic experiments (in which our metrics continuously evolve alongside our understanding of how to measure a good experience for our users) and side-by-side comparisons of queries with and without the change by real humans (trained to evaluate things with an eye towards the ideal results page). In every way we can measure, our search engine is the best it’s ever been. We definitely aren’t perfect; edge cases at scale are a never-ceasing job, and core improvements to the experience of searching on google always show that there’s plenty of headroom to improve what we return to users. But I heartily push back against both of these statements:

> Google knows its search engine isn't very good anymore!


> That is why they're increasingly trying to pitch their service as a > recommendation engine with special AI sauce, not an index of the web

We provide some content discovery tools (Discover, News), but those are offshoots made possible by our core mission and competencies: organizing the web’s information and making it accessible to users (yes we really say that, though frequently with a wink and a nod). We don’t try to be an index of the web, but instead as the best place to find out anything.

For a high-level read (and some in-depth coverage, like the rater guidelines) on what I’m taking about, consult this page: https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/mission/web-use...

No, sorry, the grandparent post is absolutely right. The search has been getting worse and worse every year to the point where I can't find specific articles I _know_ exist anymore. I know the article exists, I know it's indexed by Google, I know what it's about and I still can't find it after 5-6 increasingly sophisticated queries.

I see the flip side of this as an admin of a small website. 10 years ago I used to get search engine traffic to articles based on queries about subjects of those articles. Today, this is just gone. I can't find my own damn website without explicitly using its domain name. Even if I search for a specific subject and go though multiple pages of results. Google thinks that one-paragraph summaries from content farms are more relevant that an edited multi-page essay from a website that existed for over a decade.

Additionally, the article mentions another thing I've noticed. Google is obsessed by how frequently the website is updated. So, what if I spend extra time to write, verify and edit all my content? From what I cant tell, this reliably gets you ranked lower than website that crank out garbage in huge quantities.

>We have to, first and foremost, improve things for our users. That means a radical focus on improving the relevance, quality, and accuracy [...] //

You admitted you don't have a longitudinal view. Results really are less accurate, less relevant; we're not hating on G.

Google appear to have decided to target people who don't know what they're looking for (accuracy and relevance aren't so important), and target natural answers to natural questions rather than focused, targeted search (which was what made its name).

It's like if Nike switched to making clogs but they looked just like their traditional trainers.

Now, that's sorta fine, but it's tiresome as hell to have to alter search settings every.. single.. time.., why am I logged in again? And, still not find what you're looking for, but instead some curated set of mass media pages that only have a cursory relationship to your keywords.

You can read whatever guidelines you like, but "clogs" aren't going to work like "trainers".

> You admitted you don't have a longitudinal view. Results really are less accurate, less relevant; we're not hating on G.

Yeah, whatever their intentions, sometime in the '07-'09 time frame they very obviously changed things in a big way and appeared to simply give up trying to separate spam from small-time sites, and just down-ranked the lot. The search results for certain types of queries are somewhat better now, as a result. The search results for other types of queries have gone from "pretty much perfect" to "totally useless", though. Anyone who's been a heavy user of Google for a long time has noticed this.

But how do you attribute this to Google and not to the web exploding in size several magnitudes.

Finding a needle in a 3ft haystack is one thing, finding it in 3 miles of hay is another.

I feel it's not Google getting worse for some queries but the internet is just so much larger now, and the evidence is that the other major search engines don't bring back that same simplicity and ease of finding high quality technical information from smaller sources that I also remember from the late 2000's

Eh, it happened pretty quickly and in the middle of a bunch of "we're making our search experience better!" stuff around the same time. I only gave a range because I'm fuzzy on the exact year it went to hell. Notably, the failure mode isn't that it finds a bunch of spam sites that happen to contain the keywords I want or have great SEO for those keywords, which is what one might expect if it were a wheat/chaff thing. In fact the more obscure and specific I get the more Google's results seem to try to wrestle me back to the middle, and the more it shows me page after page of blogging-as-income and similar lowish-value sites that are wildly far from what I was trying to get, and are in no way trying to masquerade as anything like the content I was looking for.

I think the others don't go against this trend because they also don't want to spend more money fighting spam to try to salvage a use case / usage pattern that is at this point so old that a lot of Web users have never seen it work, and that many users even back then didn't use effectively.

Those of us who relied on it heavily disagree strongly with the notion that Google only improves their search, though. For me it's much worse today—to the point of being entirely useless, in fact—for a significant percentage of queries I'd like to try against it, and noticeably worse though still usable for a bunch of others. It is definitely better at sending me to Wikipedia and at finding local restaurants or whatever, though, which is the kind of thing that probably constitutes 95+% of all queries against it (throw in people typing "example.com" into search rather than the address bar and it's more like 99%), so I'm sure their metrics look great.

I use www.searx.me with Google, Bing and DDG results weighted, and in my opinion the results are flat out better than Google alone.

Just an example: recently I made a search about korean pilots. Nothing controversial. First page results were all big media. In particular I noticed an article on NYT which was a badly made summary of a blog post that perfectly answered the question in the original search and it was even linked as source. Yet this blog wasn't even in the first page of results, but it would have been years ago. And that's true for all kind of queries. We always get those pathetic summaries made by big media of much better blogs by small companies and normal people who it seems don't deserve the first page anymore (despite being the original creators of so much quality content thst get rewritten by the big media). And let's not start on how inaccurate results are when a search is even slighly controversial.

Google shifted from being a web search engine to a promoter for big media companies. They should start advertising the company as such instead of lying to consumers.

Actually, it probably would have been even worse in the old days of page rank rules all. I guarantee you that there is a lot more relinks to the NYT article than to its source.

Are all of the news article pointing to the blog source ? Yes (well not even that actually). But the rest of the web, the reddit, the facebooks, the twitter, the everything points to the news article on NYT, Fox, ...

> In every way we can measure, our search engine is the best it’s ever been.

To take a quote from Jeff Bezos, "The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. There's something wrong with the way you are measuring it." Metrics are important, but metrics definitely aren't everything.

This provoked a wry smile from me too.

"I don't find my search results very useful."

"Yes you do! Look at these numbers!"

There's a kernel of truth in there, but taken to its conclusion,Bezos is saying that days is irrelevant unless it's a cheaper way to collect anecdotes. I don't think he agrees with himself on that.

I've been using Google for nearly 20 years and anecdotally it HAS gotten worse precisely because it has become harder and harder to make precise queries.

> "Google knows its search engine isn't very good anymore!"

It is possible for this to be true and for the koolaid at the plex to be true - as the answer is highly dependant on what the end user is searching for.

I'd say that a decade or so ago, the mission stated was actually being done - somewhere around the panda and penguin updates, the results changed a lot - and in the war to destroy spam and seo, google also killed a lot of good sites by burying them in the results.

I get that around that time there was also a lot of pressure from multiple groups to censor the results even more.. and so veering from the mission of organizing the web and delivering what the user is looking for was somewhat hijacked by gov bodies, powerful groups like the mpaa and such - and maybe it was larry paige? that was supposed to be the adult pulling the reins?

Whatever the multiple causes, there was a time when people could find all kinds of things with google and even google shopping.. then things started to change and change a lot they have.

Today's google is a homogenized, censored and curated skewed view of the world that is damaging those who trust google to show them what is on the internet.

Not for all searches mind you. For many searches it is the best version of the best ever search engine. As far as being a yellow pages of the future, you guys have nailed it.

I have no idea what the wink and nod is supposed to mean ("organizing the web’s information and making it accessible to users (yes we really say that, though frequently with a wink and a nod)" - but if it means, wink wink - we used to show a lot of stuff and now use a bait and switch hiding being esoteric "algorythms" that curate via 'user testing' - results - blah blah.

Please. The algorythm has been made to censor in many ways. It may be too complicated to explain, and trade secrets may be the real reason you don't show it - but whatever.

Please, for people in the main areas of the inside - it is disingenuous to be spouting the kool aid like it's some kind of truth.

It may be mostly true, but the 10% or 15%? of what is hidden completely and the xx% that is downranked into 'might as well not exist" - can you imagine if a few people got together and convinced the world that they have the actual true holy book and yet it was selectively censored by 12% - it might be true, but not really true..

and yet we are here today where big G is trusted by millions - and they have already targeted the next billion to acquire - and it appears people on the inside are repeating this false mantra like they are some kind of prophets of perfection.

As things continue to be censored more and more, big G becomes more and more like the yellow pages, with some 'trusted sources' thrown in for added content.

You've crowdsources a yellow pages that can be updated daily instead of once a year. You've selected some trusted sources about a few topics and point people to them.

You do not make the web accessible to users, only some of it. You do not make "best place to find out anything." - you provide the best place to find some select things that other people have made or given you updated info about.

The worse part of this whole thing is that the trust built up years ago by the brand has gotten a lot of people to convince a lot of other people that "just google it" is the way to find truth on the web, and you have taken over default search and find on most devices hijacking other possibly less censored options. You have hampered the abilities of many to share by making ideas and speech disappear.

However, I am glad that someone who works at google has said something. The silence from the G men / women / ts is more mocking. I wish Matt C had never left the plex and communication channels he shared.

remember when google would put a notice at the bottom of some results with something like 'some results not shown due to dmca, we have been forced by law to hide some results, see this chilling effects page about how this hurts...

now google hides more things itself.

and yet the same old lines are spewed "we index and give users access to find things on the web".

Come on, how much of the web is actually available to the end users through google and how much is not?

My god, how far the web has fallen. Search engines were originally intended as tools. It was their job to index and deliver all content relevant to user's query.

You could publish an article and if your website was indexed and users searched for something related to your article, it would appear in relevant search results. You could actually get traffic that way and bootstrap your audience without being one of the select few established websites with millions of visitors.

Page rank slowly eroded that into the broken model we have right now.

>Now imagine how easy that same process would be for the waves of fake news blogs to spread misinformation.

Imagine you could publish good content on your website and actually get visitors without becoming a vassal to Twitter, medium.com or whatever is popular at the moment. O horror! No, we can't have this stand. We need to centralize and control everything because someone might, gasp, get incorrect information from the internet.

Also, what about non-news subjects? This shit is affecting everything on the web, including product reviews, analytical essays and even educational content.

For many blogs (after talking to others) all it takes to get listed is hiring someone who knows someone, and the majority of sites in Google News are never reviewed again once they're reviewed. I can understand why it should be limited _but_ I also don't think the current approach is a good one.

I think that the whole "fake news" fiasco is corporate propaganda designed by big corporations precisely to discredit small independent news sources. Fake news is not that bad. It's a small price to pay for increased decentralization of power. Did Trump destroy America; no. Trump made people question things so that's a good thing. So-called "fake news" is good in small quantities.

A world with only one kind of news source curated by the elites is a horrible, dystopian place. I'd rather read fake news from time to time; at least it would keep me doubtful and suspicious. People should never stop questioning things.

Just because something is popular doesn't make it true; it may be slightly more likely to be true but it's also a lot more dangerous if it's not.

100% agreed. Indeed, as someone who runs a smaller news outlet/site myself, I constantly worry that sites like my own will get caught up in the crossfire.

And that's especially true because sometimes, the mainstream narratives are not right. The obvious old example is the Iraq war one with 'weapons of mass destruction'; this was all incorrect, but I can see any alternative news site saying so getting banned for 'fake news' because of it.

Does that mean all narratives are true? Of course not, you've got nutcases and conspiracy theorists as well, and fake news will exist too. But sometimes the mainstream/elite held view is wrong (or a lie/propoganda), and other outlets should be able to call them out on it.

I don't buy this: It's easy to verify a news site as legitimate by checking the content history - posting complex articles regularly for multiple years is a massive barrier against gaming the system, and requiring a certain update frequency on every category biases towards spam/misinformation sites, not against them.

Define "easy" - if you start out just eyeballing it, then spam blogs will steal historical content from reputable news sites to try to slip through the process. So then you have to start checking for plagiarism/copied content, and from there it becomes an arms race. Not so easy after all.

Okay, 'easy' was definitely an exaggeration, however it should probably be doable, given that Google already takes website age into account while ranking search results. I presume they have anti-plagiarism measures in place already, as otherwise obscuration of ranking rules would be trivially avoided by content theft.

Speaking generally about Google News, it's amazing that Apple of all companies has leap frogged Google News with Apple News in terms of customization on top of curation.

It's infuriating when a redesign has half the functionality of the original. It's not like it was feature-rich in the first place!

It's silly not being able to remove entertainment (aka celebrity gossip) or sports (even if I was a sport fan, I probably wouldn't care about every sport -- why can't I filter to MotoGP or what have you?) and having science be mostly several times regurgitated pop-sci and health be mostly fearing mongering nonsense.

I also regularly notice failures where articles they group together are almost entirely unrelated.

In the end, I still do RSS (although support in certain areas of interest are pretty weak) and Twitter (in a read-only fashion) and go to Google News over Apple News only by habit.

I’ve looked at Apple News, and while its sources can be customized to some extent, the app is not yet available in all regions (though it’s been around for more than a couple of years). IIRC, it’s coming to Canada shortly. It also doesn’t allow one to follow sites that Apple doesn’t know about or care about, and if you change the region setting on the device, you’re no longer allowed to follow certain channels (even those that are not region specific or are smaller/individual sites).

Apple is excruciatingly slow on this and a few other things, whereas Google News, for all its faults, is available in many countries and regions.

This is where, and why, RSS becomes a better option.

One thing that surprised me about the news app is that it gives you desktop notifications for the sources you follow. I can't think of a more useless distraction than getting notifications for news.

It has no real preference pane for managing notifications afaict, so I had to unfollow everything to shut it up. And that was the last time I opened the app.

Apple News is broken in a crazier way, you need to own an iOS device to see it. I mean, what the hell?

It's on macOS as well.

These are basically the main downside though - I switched to Apple News after Google started inserting YouTube videos in Google News, and haven't looked back. AMP also broke the browser back button as well, adding insult on top of injury.

That's just Google's philosophy of UI design, especially of Search. Tiny frontend (i.e. little controls), gigantic backend (that guesses what you haven't or even couldn't select). Works for >95% of population, probably >99%.

> why can't I filter to MotoGP or what have you?

I find Google actually does a good job at curating the news for me once I've told it what my interests were. Additionally, it seems to automatically pick up my new interests automatically - for instance I get news updates on the television shows I like, for sports - it's pretty much all the teams and sports I follow. Sometimes if I'm researching a topic, I'll start getting news on those topics as well...sometimes months later even if something newsworthy happened. Whether it's getting that from search or google analytics..I'm really not sure but I can tell you I really enjoy it.

I agree. Google does an excellent job of curating cricket (my guess this is mostly from their India office), every time I search for scores, fixtures or news, all the data is displayed correctly. They also have the Google calendar, so I get notified of upcoming games.

Interesting, I stopped using Apple News awhile ago, mainly because source customization didn't seem to work well. Maybe I should give it a shot again.

Google News was frustrating when I was writing articles. I use to write a lot of original content - lots of breaking news that would generate lots of interest around the web. Other sites would write articles and cite mine at the bottom, and Google News would still have them ranked higher even though I was linked to and sourced in their article and had published my article hours before theirs.

Even worse were the sites that didn't cite at all. They'd copy my source content quite heavily, and would still rank above me. I'd name and shame them if I could remember who they were - there was a common small blog offender that would do it every single time and never cite back, and would rank higher every single time.

I was writing for a fairly well known, high-traffic and highly-ranked site that was about 14-15 years old. But Google News would de-rank it in favor of smaller blogs. It didn't make sense and was quite disappointing.

Google's redesign of News was a piece of junk. It's 100% based on "social media" and "your browsing habits". That's the opposite of "News".

It's also broken... disabling "Open web pages in Google News" actually opens the page in, you guessed it, Google News.

It's primarily a means of driving AMP usage as far as I can tell, and showing you articles they know you can't resist clicking for ad revenue.

After the old app stopped working I never used it again. Checking a couple of sites I respect a few times a week gets me all the "news" I need.

This is sad but hardly surprising. Google News is broken in the same way as a unregulated free market is broken. Basically, giant distributors control the whole market and only those who are big enough can survive. It's sad because we lose small but independent players, which we actually need when it comes to news organization.

I think it is kinda hypocritical when you criticize big news organizations and keep using big news distributors like Google News. They're not necessarily bad per se, but people should understand what's really costing them.

OK, so let's go to "char.gd". The top story:

"Featured read: Surface Go is proof that every computer needs LTE".

This is a "news site"?

That would have been news when it came out, and it's a manually selected featured story. What's your point?

I think everyone has a different definition of news. I wouldn't call a product review news, but browsing Google News I do see some in there, so...

Thats a paid post meant to sell more surface GOs, not an article about how microsoft is doing something groundbreaking.

“You know that feature you didn’t know you needed? I’m paid to convince you that you want it and absolutely must have it and will buy it and throw out your currently just fine computer”

That’s sales, not news.

Google News is particularly broken when it comes to financial news. Searching for the name of any major company in there will bring up perhaps a couple or so of relevant articles, and a deluge of bot-generated drivel based on their publicly available metrics.

> There's no reason the public shouldn't be able to see why a site was rejected, or whether it was approved, and the reasons about why -- let alone the publisher itself. Google has a responsibility to help publishers of all sizes, but right now, it's hard to say that it's really supporting anyone outside of the giants.

Every selection process is like this, unfortunately. Whether you're applying for college or a job, telling you why you didn't get selected not very common, for a variety of reasons. This has the side effect of keeping the process opaque too, but that's how it is…

True! Though I believe that for this specific segment it's really important that Google is a little less opaque. This isn't a popularity contest or anything; it's genuinely just gatekeeping.

I built my own AI curated news called https://lettergram.net

Basically, the entire idea is that the system identifies experts and rank content based on how often they discuss and share it. This filters out the fake news and produces significantly better results than most "news curation" systems out there.

Trouble for me Google News will send fake news, and is often based off of search results (as opposed to topics you decide to follow). This leaves me with news often unrelated to my interest and often more related to things I needed solutions for.

Further, I want stories related to my interests. For instance, I follow "Iran" I want topics related to items impact Iran, such as stories about Israel, Syria, etc.

Finally, there is no clear "trigger" for the article. It's not based off some sentiment change in the topic or new trend (not just topic being discussed, but a spike in discussion, etc.). Hence, Lettergram.net can be configured to send on sentiment changes, trend changes, or on a schedule.

Finally, Google News is a product, they have perverse motives and (such as needing to be on boarded, which this post is about). Overall, I just couldn't take it, so I built my own.

Just signed up for this. A few issues I noticed:

- Signing up for the 'free' plan requires a credit/debit card for activation? I know why you're doing this (using Stripe's Subscription API) but it seems very sketchy. People unfamiliar with Stripe probably wouldn't trust this.

- After I signed up I got presented with a standard Rails error page (on the /users) route. Not a great first impression...

- Also the password reset system doesn't seem to work... just redirects me to the homepage. And I can't login because my account isn't activated...

Does anyone else remember when Google said it would put un-constrained funds into independent news sources to ensure un-biassed independent news was available?

Did that stop? Did it work?

I'm not saying the Google News feed is good, but it feels like 30% news, 70% "here's a random article you might be interested in based on your search and other history". For example, I googled a specific breed of dog to see what it looked like, and I saw an article about that dog breed in my Google News feed the same day or maybe the next day. Most of the content on the feed is stuff like that.

The new android mobile news app is missing features I cared about in ways that are hostile to the user:

1. The ability to have any search term be a topic. I used to be able to have my own searches appear as a topic heading and auto populated, now the best I can do is have them be under saved searches which is itself two screens down on the favorites menu. 2. The ability to open links in a browser of my choice when clicked (I now have to click the menu for the story, select share, scroll over to my preferred browser (firefox focus) and click that. 3. The use of the Android share menu that you can customize... instead they force you to use their product specific share menu which I can't edit. This wouldn't be a big issue if it wasn't for 2

If someone made a better google news client for android, I'd pay for it but I haven't found anything like that.

char.gd appears to be a blog, not a news site.

Yeah I feel bad for Owen, but the site is pretty clearly a personal blog and not a news outlet. Just reading through samples of the articles and newsletter a lot of it is personal opinion and personal perspective. A lot of "I" in the blogposts. There's nothing wrong with that for a blog, but I don't expect my news articles to be about some guy named Owen and his opinion. I want impartial news that just sticks to the facts. Personally I think that Google News is working completely as intended to keep this personal blog from showing up as news, because if it did show as news then so would the thousands of other small personal blogs, and Google News would be worthless.

Look at what is on Google News now. Almost all opinion pieces from Fox News and Waahington Post and Washington Examiner and The Hill.

Plenty of blogs are in Google News too, so I'd love to hear the logic there. But, also, that's fine if it's not allowed! Google just needs to make the rules far less opaque. Why are some op-ed blogs allowed in, and not others? How does the rejection process work? Why does nobody at the company want to put their name to this process?

>Why are some op-ed blogs allowed in, and not others?

Its simple. They have more money than you.

Having had a quick look at the Char.gd homepage, has the author considered that Google doesn't consider it a news source because it looks absolutely nothing like a news source and has precious little original news reporting?

This website is objectively bad. All of the content is about two pages down in a text list?

'One of the biggest frustrations I have today with the news industry is that it's based on quantity more than anything else. Head over to Techcrunch or Huffington Post and there's so much content coming out of these organizations that it's impossible to keep up; my philosophy has been to publish only when there's something worth saying as a result.

The problem, unfortunately, is that Google doesn't think you're a real publisher if you're not writing content at that pace.'

FWIW I haven't found that - my blog gets referrals from Google News even though I publish irregularly.

> a mysterious process with hidden rules, gotchas and changing goal posts, designed only to allow the largest, well-known of publishers in

I have also experienced, quite often, the opposite problem, i.e. very low quality sources creeping into my Google News feed. You know those clickbaity sources that primarily aim to create "viral" articles to be shared on Fb and other social media sites? That type of website. Especially in Google News' thematic sections, e.g. "health" or "entertainment" or "technology". For this reason I now seldom visit Google News.

I just did a (very quick) check and – at least here in Germany – the carousel brings up all kinds of sites that one would not consider traditional news outlets, e.g. mobiflip.de, stadt-bremerhaven.de and lostineu.eu. It also shows the more traditional (but also pretty new) news site watson.de, which launched in March 2018.

I feel like it's not really hard to be generally approved by Google. What I know from my daily business: You have almost no chance in beating traditional media when it comes to really popular news topics like "Angela Merkel" or "Brexit".

Also, has Google newspaper archive closed? That was such a benefit to humanity, but I can't find it anymore.

We run the industry leading news publication on food and agtech and Google has been shooting us down for five years. We have full time journalists, free lancers, guest posts from VCs, and we’ve interviewed CEO of major food and ag companies and carry all the breaking funding news. But Google News won’t index us. About six months ago tbey did decide to index a new publication run by a conference that has a lot of overlapping content. Very frustrating....

>"We require fresh content in all sections of the edition

This explains perfectly why I'm seeing horribly outdated news as if it was submitted hours ago on my pixel google news feed feature... They most likely just slap a different time stamp on articles to make them seem "fresh"

Proper news is a scarce resource.

The thing about google news is you need to be a news site. And at a scale where you can have a constantly updated news sitemap (https://support.google.com/news/publisher-center/answer/7428...) where posts published in the last 48 hours is valid, rest is ignored by Google.

The problem Google news has is not everything is news, it is also gamed for PVs. Next time google does doodle, do a search, and their will be 100s or articles trying to get PVs from the 'news' piece.

As @bduerst mentioned, you want it harder to get into Google news, not easier.

And frankly depending on the type of "news" you write, Google News won't even be a great traffic source.

Absolutely most sites unless your a real news publisher should not be in Google news.

In-fact many sites should be removed from google news

> designed only to allow the largest, well-known of publishers in.

This seems like one effective method to combat fly-by-night "publications" that exist to spread falsehoods. It's warfare.

Also this seems like it's somewhat in line with the original idea behind PageRank.

But yes I would believe that it comes with drawbacks.

The original idea behind PageRank had nothing to do with well known or name brands. That’s precisely the crap that other “home pages” were based on that google disrupted.

So true, Google's raison d'etre then wasn't "make money".

Is it possible that you're being ignored/rejected in part because you have a .gd domain?

That sounds really dumb and petty, but for some reason it seems like something they would consider because people just instinctively look for .com

I give you points for writing well and not having the usual flaws. Maybe you could consolidate narrow topics into broader ones so each topic has new content each day. Think “tech” as a single topic instead of “Microsoft” and “Google” etc. as separate ones.

I would have said just give up because they are interested in big news sites, but they do include fake sources sometimes (or used to last time I looked) with lines like:

“The calamity of the day was highlight markered by insertion into the interest of massive public”

...which are obviously the result of some sort of gaming of the system. If Google could boot those out and include more real sites, that would be an improvement.

Right swipe and left swipe remove the item from the feed. Gives me i-taught-google-news-wrongly anxiety. News hell for the romfl!

There are a few ways to it:

1. You need to be in Google's News Publisher Center 2. You need to be regularly posting news on your website 3. You need to have your website AMP (this is must now) 4. Your website's SEO should be powerful 5. There should be more and more people reading and spreading your news online

Now or 12 years ago? 12 years ago, it was the stories getting the most traction. It was mostly user driven, objective and fairly diverse. After the large news companies attacked google news many years ago, they essentially turned over the platform to major news companies ( NYTimes, WaPo, CNN, etc ).

One of the things that attracted me to google news when it first started was it's broad, open and "fair". You could genuinely find different news perspectives from different countries, news companies, etc.

After large news companies complained, Google "localized" the news and when that didn't work, they essentially turned over the platform to "authoritative" sources.

The attacks on facebook are the same attacks the nytimes, wapo, cnn, etc used against google news. "Propaganda", "toxic", etc. Funny how they don't complain about google news anymore when it is even more propagandistic and toxic than ever. When facebook agrees to start spamming nytimes, wapo, cnn, etc to their users, I bet the complaints will slowly die down.

TL;DR: Blogger with a low-readership blog (for internet standards) wants to be included in news carousel at the top of Google results but is rejected.

So Google News is broken.

I have complained about this before but the "swipe right" news view on Android used to be nice but now it's so hyper focused on returning results related to your latest Google search that it is really annoying..

Google news is one instance where I wished google spied on me more. For some reason its always recommending stories I care absolutely nothing about like soccer players being traded or small town news stories from the midwest.

News seems to be mainly about propaganda nowadays.

Even sources like BBC, half the "news" is telling you what to think, the other half is "in news today, this TV programme is super awesome; and surprise it's on our channel tonight, all your neighbours are watching it!".


By writing a trash piece, according to my resrarch

Maybe Google News is in a death spiral towards cancellation.

It's broken for me in a different, far less important way. I can't get the darn "For you Recommended based on your interests" section to stop showing me stupid stories about dumb things I searched one time for 2 years ago. No matter how many times I've told it to "show me fewer stories about this" or "more stories about this" it's still news that's just total garbage. Singers, TV Shows, music, pointless crap I don't care anything about.

I search Google News all the time for stories on security, and books, and libraries, and it almost never recommends stories on things I'm actually interested in.

Kind of amazing just how bad that algorithm is. Really not a big deal, I'm just surprised at how bad Google can fail at something that seems so easy.

I reported this bug when I worked at Google and tried to help the team fix it and they persistently ignored every effort. Still happens basically every time I search for a term in Google: it will show me articles about that for a long time no matter how many times I click show me fewer.

Google keeps actively making it worse and just ignores feedback from users. In the process, they've managed to make something that is worse than what it attempts to replace; I could throw away the Sports and other irrelevant sections when i bought a newspaper, but there is no way to remove or rearrange the priority of sections on Google News so I get sports stories every day despite not wishing to see any sports news.

I don't really know what's going on in Mountain View. Senior Googlers just lie or BS in response to questions questions from non-Googlers. It's pretty obnoxious.

News used to have a feature to customize your news sections, but it was dropped in a "UI refresh". Now all you can do is play whackamole to block the 99% of publishers that are crap, including the biggest news sites in the world, because even if they also carry quality news, the articles that make it onto Google News are the clickbait sensationalist opinion gossip trash pieces about how Twitter users responded to a Senator's comment about Trump's tweet.

I believe they killed the feature that let you block entire sections you aren't interested in. If I'm right, you must take sports news from Google News, it is not optional.

Customizing sources is pretty limited too. The Science section is full of pop-sci headlines, often exaggerated from studies, rather than just direct links to new journal articles.

RSS might be the better option here...

The Science section is full of pop-sci headlines

I wish. My Google News page is full of bullshit clickbait along the lines of "NASA WARNS 2 METEORS HEADING FOR EARTH, 1 WILL HIT YOUR HOUSE."

Seriously, Google, this is an embarrassment to your entire company. Either put some competent people on News, or shut it down.

>science section is full of pop-sci headlines

This is painfully accurate. The technology section is also bad, since no matter how hard I try to get Google News to show me technical/interesting content, it keeps recommending me banal stories of "the blockchain revolution", smart-phones, and video games.

Any suggestions for a decent RSS reader?

I've tried many RSS readers since the terrible day Google shut down GoogleReader, and i used to have at least 2 or 3 websites for my news: a RSS reader, GoogleNews for the top stories, etc...

In the end i was tired to have to switch between apps and websites to get my news, and was frustrated by Google News, not enough categories, not enough content sources...

So i decided to build a Google News/RSS Reader crossover that i could use to manage my RSS feeds, and check the Top Stories of the day, all of that in a single app. I added some processing on top of that to automatically cateogrize content, extract names of people, places, companies, etc...

It still is an early version, there's a lot of room for improvements and new features but i feel it's definitely going in the right direction.

You can check it out here: https://aktu.io/about

Would love some feedback!

This looks really cool! No public demo?

no demo, it is live: https://aktu.io

While the tt-rss community is a tire fire, the software is very good if you're happy to self-host.

i know its not an RSS feed but i really like TED talks.


try this too


I assure you it's optional.

Maybe I'm dense, but I'm not seeing how to do this. The settings available are pretty sparse. I'm logged in for sure. I've hidden espn, but I can't exactly hide every source that has a sports story.

Step 1: Don't patronize Alphabet directly. Step 2: Install an ad blocker. Step 3: Blacklist javascript from Alphabet-owned domains.

No it isn't.

This is why I don't buy any of the claims that "the world's elites" have developed AI technology that can predict what you want to buy/watch/listen 95%+ percent of the time. I've not seen anything that Google, Amazon, or Facebook have done that suggest that their recommendation engines are extraordinarily intelligent.

> It's broken for me in a different, far less important way. I can't get the darn "For you Recommended based on your interests" section to stop showing me stupid stories about dumb things I searched one time for 2 years ago

Have you ever thought that maybe the algorithm is correct and it's you that's broken? Google is a giant tech company full of AI ML geniuses and massive stores of customer data, it they're showing you those stores, they must have a good reason. /s

The Google News recommendations algorithm seems to have lots in common with the equally terrible YouTube recommendations algorithm. God forbid I watch one movie trailer in six months, now my recommendations are filled with terrible movie theory videos, and the awful bottom of the content barrel scraping some movie trailer explanined videos.

I suspect there’s a culture of entitlement at Google which results in laziness while people just sit back waiting for more options to vest.

There is a culture of not giving a shit about projects that have already shipped. Nobody makes level 6+ fixing bugs.

No, this stuff takes hard work to build. But the design choices are made by people with questionablle judgment who want to make their mark.

The probably optimized by some stupid stat that makes it look better on their report to show clickbait garbage

Both can be true. Entitled people and bad design can coexist.

But the sense of entitlement theory explains a lot of things about dumb, like brain-dead-level dumb, holes in many of Google’s services.

This is interesting, actually, I had noticed the same thing. I've been downvoting particular topics from their 'briefing' section and it seems to cause... well, nothing to happen. I asked, and they said it learns over time, but no matter how much you downvote something, it seems to do it anyway. Sigh.

Same. It clearly has me pegged as a Nebraska Cornhuskers fan. I am not, I have told them.... Google doesn't care.

That tag or keyword is just stuck to me

Let alone all the stuff I am interested in....but then I get actual or borderline fake news recommendations on that topic but clearly exist to quietly push a narrative about something else.

I gave up on it. The moment an AI or system can't even bother to filter what I don't like, why bother?

Presumably Cornhuskers are paying Google to stick that tag to you (eg by buying AdWords, G can ensure that ads increase traffic by routing traffic in other ways and pretending it's ads?)?

I looked into removing it because I got sick of seeing similar recommended stories over and over. It's always about WearOS for me... Can't remove it, so next best thing is I scroll pass it.

You can delete the related items from your account history or clear it altogether. It won't recommend them anymore and you can then mark the stories you are not interested in.

this feature doesn't work. I've done extensive work with this; "Show Fewer" doesn't show fewer (for example I am still seeing articles about Elon Musk and Tesla even though I've marked "show fewer" over a hundred times). Removing from search history doesn't really work either.

surprisingly youtube suggestions fixed that bias, I get a good ratio of interests / fluff these days

For me I get instant pot deals every day.

> ... I'm just surprised at how bad Google can fail at something that seems so easy.

Sounds like you still make frequent use of it, and use it to decide which news to read, which is Google’s goal. In that sense it’s not a failure at all.

I used to love Google News's customizable sections- I would set those to Spanish-language international sections from other countries, and the different perspective was really refreshing and informative compared to what you see in the US International section.

Since the last re-design, Google News seemingly dropped the customization, and has devolved into an endless toxic carousel of US-slanted political opinion in most sections, half of which seem to come from pay-walled sources. I have lost all control of what I want to read, and instead have to rely on their opaque feed, most of which I'm not actually that interested in (I can only take so much politics).

Does anyone know of an alternative that's more like the Google News of old?

Shameless plug here but i built something that you might like. It's a GoogleNews/RssReader crossover. It aggregates thousands of content sources across the world to give you the top stories of the day. And you can manage your RSS feeds too, best of both worlds :-)

You can check it out here: https://aktu.io/about

Feedback welcome!

Thanks this is cool! A couple times when I clicked on some stories, I couldn't see a link to the original publication. I'll keep an eye on this, I'm sure it'll keep getting better!

I was going to make the same commment: I enjoyed custom pages and I also enjoyed seeing many links for one story, letting me quickly find what news services in many countries were saying about a story that interests me.

Sort of simple, but I like NPR all text site https://text.npr.org/t.php?tid=1001

For CNN fans, they also have a text only site http://lite.cnn.io/en

I loved my customized Google News. When they dropped customization, I searched for many options and ended up with Apple News. There apps are iOS and macOS, but no web version unfortunately.

You could try https://www.laserlike.com/. It's built by ex-Googlers from Search and News.

Try it how? There’s no apparent product available, no app; just contact info, jobs, and social media links.

It looks like it's invite-only for now.

Then it doesn't exist.

My biggest criticisms of Google News are:

1) low signal-to-noise ratio - i.e., lots of duplicative stories, publishers are commoditized, and there are no mechanisms to distinguish (and reward!) high quality content

2) paywalls and/or extreme ad loads lurking everywhere

3) local news is a second-class citizen

4) lack of user control in customizing topics, while at the same time all the (uncontrollable) targeted "for you" stories tend to overfit (e.g., Google seems to think tech news and the Patriots are all I care about)

In general I'm extremely dissatisfied with the functionality of available news products and with the consequences of attention-optimized digital news media on our world. There's a lot of data which indicates most people feel some degree of similarly [1][2][3][4] and I think there's opportunity and demand for creating better.

As such, last summer I set out to build Gatherscope - a news ecosystem designed from first principles to serve readers and sustain quality journalism. At the moment, the high-level plan is:

1) build an aggregator layer that's differentiated in the breadth, depth, quality, and customizability of content that's surfaced and in applying machine clustering and summarization to make it faster and easier for busy consumers to digest what current events are happening, see varying perspectives about them, go deeper where worthwhile, and then get on with their lives

2) stack other layers around this - either by building them or through 3rd party relationships - to further deliver a rich, insightful, frictionless UX (e.g., bundled multi-publisher subscriptions, community quality review, synthesized audio, contextual search and feedback loops, publisher tools for local journalists)…these should all work independently but best together

Today there's a (quite-rough) MVP of part 1 live at https://www.gatherscope.com and a very long way to go :)

All this to say: if any of this sounds interesting and/or you have strong, thoughtful opinions about news media, I'd love to hear from you. I've recently begun a hunt for collaborators, and even if that's not for you it would be good to hear how to build you a useful product faster.



[1] http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2018/overview-key-fi...

[2] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/06/05/almost-seven...

[3] http://www.pewglobal.org/2018/01/11/publics-globally-want-un...

[4] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/07/30/newsroom-emp...

Google News was the trigger for me to start moving away from Google platforms because of privacy concerns. It felt wrong to scan the results and have something catch your eye only to remember you were looking at something similar earlier in the day. Customization may be good for some areas but seems dangerous for news.

The other shocker for me was when they released a way to view your historical location. I had had no idea that the app was tracking my daily commute for the previous year, and it was enough to make me switch to DuckDuckGo.

Well looks like OP's site as well. Just check the news.G, looks fine.

The article is about how getting his site’s articles listed by Google News is a broken process, not that Google News itself is broken.

I agree that’s what the article is about but the author is making an important point with the title: if the process for getting sites listed is broken, it follows that GN itself is thereby broken.

The author’s chosen title should be respected in this case. IMHO.

The point is that Google News is inherently broken because the system in which it approves news sources is broken. If every headline had to do gymnastics to explain the precise, painful point, it would make headlines just annoying.

I didn't even know there was a process. I know a local news source that does great work but isn't part of Google News, even though its constantly ranked highest for its content.

Is there a link or something?

You're right. Mods should change the title

Oh I see. Thank you for clarification. Still my thoughts are that G news pics up trending and targeted articles. Not sure is there is an easy way to test whether or not their process is "broken". What comes out on my side will be completely different on your site. Maybe those articles are plainly not interesting?..

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