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Yeah, Infowars may have the best coverage of a story, but that doesn’t do Google any good if it’s abrasive to profitable users’ expectations. By pushing good content down they can keep the users happy who 1) click ads, 2) shop more online, 3) subscribe / engage on platforms. The algorithms aren’t designed to find the best content, but that which aligns with Google’s goals (eg profit).



> The algorithms aren’t designed to find the best content, but that which aligns with Google’s goals (eg profit).

And it so turns out that finding and surfacing the best content aligns well with the number of people who link to that content, which creates a great product for Google, which aligns with Google making a profit.

You can't argue from a hypothetical where Infowars offers the best content, as Infowars doesn't offer the best content. If Infowars started offering better content than BBC, people would start linking to Infowars, and Infowars would rise in the search results. It's not Google's fault that a lot of Infowars content is low quality that people don't link to.


> And it so turns out that finding and surfacing the best content aligns well with the number of people who link to that content, which creates a great product for Google, which aligns with Google making a profit.

The lines between Google "watching the market" and Google "commanding the market" are very blurry. If you don't get featured, nobody knows that you exist, nobody links to you, you don't get featured. Otoh: if you get featured, everybody sees you, people link to you, you get featured.


This is a hugely important point. Google’s algorithm was genius at the size they were 10 years ago.

Today Google is the tail that wags the dog and a purely popularity based algorithm is more concerning.

However it’s also unquestionably true that Google results are not purely a popularity contest, and then the question becomes whose hand is on the tiller and which way is it steering?

Clearly in this case it is steering towards mainstream media outlets which all slant a particular way. This does not have a small impact.


>> And it so turns out that finding and surfacing the best content aligns well with the number of people who link to that content,

It's like saying Burger King offers "the best" food, because it's popular.

And there's not really a reason(besides a little bit of money) for Google, The global monopoly, to insist on doing that. It's not that hard to have an easy option for quality content.

For example: Google's forum search, which was cancelled.


This argument might fly better if people were posting actually good but small news sources as examples. Lets not pretend that Breitbart or Infowars have any sort of integrity here.


For news stories that are posted on high quality forums(like hn or /r/science), offering a forum link seems like good value.


> It's like saying Burger King offers "the best" food, because it's popular.

Not really; no-one goes to Burger King because they think they are getting the "best" food. They think they are getting convenient, affordable and quick food. You certainly could argue that Burger King is enormously popular because it is very good at offering those three attributes.


Depend on how you define "best". For me it's value, and Burger king is up there.


I'm reminded of what Rory Sutherland once said about McDonalds: the one guarantee that you get with McDs is that it isn't going to make you ill.


The one thing I can guarantee you is that McD's makes me ill. Every bloody time I ate there, mostly on the road in the US where there is nothing else for a long way around. Only the fries are safe.


Well, at least everyone agrees that it is _consistent_.


Not always :( the maccas on the freeway stop near me has horrible chicken nuggets, while the one in the local shopping centre has good ones.


who has not had the bubble guts a time or two from Mickey D's?


The analogy doesn't work because all the content on google is free to users. I would argue that in a world where 5-star restaurants cost the same as Burger King, they would experience more demand than Burger King.


Putting aside who offers the best content entirely, that simply doesn't logically follow.

You can observe that an objective unbiased media source in any realm with a biased and obfuscated view of reality would do less well relative to one that catered to that biased and obfuscated view of reality, which is why media sources even in the modern age are localised and tailored to the audiences which they are aimed at, prejudices, unfounded beliefs and all like MEMRI in the middle east, christian fundamentalist media like WND, etc. If you expand the scope of enquiry to all of possible human history you can very easily imagine that the media sources which would and have historically done best in the more ignorant periods thereof are obscenely biased and not at all "the best content".

If you think that BBC / NY times / WaPo ad et al are not guilty of the exact same kind of thing merely from a different perspective, well that's quaint and charming, but simply completely inaccurate. Nobody has the full story, everybody is wrong, and putting together the puzzle pieces on any issue requires extensive survey of a broad variety of perspectives and sources, and even then, you're going to fall victim to your own biases and simply become another part of the tapestry to boot.

There is no winning. There's just losing less badly.


This is basically backwards

Infowars never has the best coverage

Because it's a at best a crazy conspiracy site, and at worst a far right conspiracy site.

This is actually a massive problem with YouTube in which Google optimizes for time spent watching and ad time which drives a lot of people to far right and conspiratorial content. And a lot of people are complain I that Google needs to fix thay


Comparing views held in 1994 with views held in 2017, it is clear that nothing is driving a lot of people to the far right. Quite the opposite is happening. A sort of relativity may be in play here, making it seem as if other people are moving to the right if the observer is moving to the left.

Histograms of the change, for each party and year: https://imgur.com/QJd2gRB


> Infowars may have the best coverage of a story

Has there ever been an example of this?




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