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+1’s: the right recommendations right when you want them—in your search results (googleblog.blogspot.com)
213 points by Anon84 on March 30, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments

I really surprised at Google by this implementation--it seems like they didn't really think it through.

When I'm searching for something, my behavior is usually:

     Google search term
     Open the top couple results in a new tab
     Check each tab, to see if they contain the information I was looking for
     If tab is not useful, or more information is required, check next tab. 
     If information is satisfied, close window (all tabs, including search)
     If no tabs remain, and still need more information, return to search page and check next results.
That process has been in place since I upgraded to firefox from ie6 all those years ago. Before then, my search process consisted of:

     Google search term
     Check first result link
     If information has been satisfied, close window.
     If more information is needed, go BACK, check next link.
My point is, Google search is a launching platform. I typically only go back to the results page when the result didn't provide the information I was looking for. In order to use the feature, I'd have to alter my process to include a return trip to the results page, find the link that led to the page I found interesting and then +1 it. No way this is gonna happen. Ever.

The only way I see this feature being implemented in a workable solution is as a browser addon--so that when I'm on a page that I find particularly awesome [whether I found it via search results or by following some page link] I can click on the +1 toolbar button.

Such an implementation would I think would also enhance the result set of affected links. In it's current implementation I'll only find plus one's when I just happen to be searching for the same or similar thing as some one from my social circle. Where as as a browser extension I'll find plus ones for any page that any one in my social circle has visited and found interesting regardless of if they ever issued a query for that subject matter.

The video hinted that they plan to provide embeddable +1 buttons in style of Facebook's "Like". Considering that, +1 can actually be useful because you would be able to see recommendation from your google contacts.

Except the nomenclature is so nerdy. You can't really say it out loud. Like is a nicely descriptive verb; 'plus one' is a phrase you see on a formal event invitation.

That's exactly what I thought, a "Facebook Like" ripoff with a nerdy name.

Google slapping social features on search is eerily similar to Microsoft adding internet capabilities to its desktop applications. Neither of them got it right the first time.

Yeah I am not sure I will use it except when an Apache project appears in the search results in which case I will probably just click it automatically...

It's a lot easier to translate than "Like", that's good if you are doing business around the globe and only a small part of your audience is in the USA

The problem is that Google offers a recommendation which the searcher can't evaluate until later. This is especially true with ads. Google recommends a business to me (by showing me an ad) but Google doesn't know if the business was good to me. I don't even know if the business was good to me until after I received the service.

Ideally, I would buy through a Google service (Checkout) and then Google would provide me opportunities to rate the business after the sale. These ratings could affect an ad's quality score. Done right, this would allow Google to introduce me to the businesses most likely to satisfy me. Google would become more of a trusted advisor to searchers rather than just another advertising company.

But search may not be where you click +1 the most. This article suggests google will also count other places where you have shared a link eg twitter, likes on reader, etc http://j.mp/fSVZSn

No doubt a toolbar and chrome addon is on it's way. Even in search with previews and HTML5 being able to tag info as summary to display directly in the search screen you may even use it in search more than you think. No reason why they can't start tying in reviews on google places and checkout as you suggest

> I really surprised at Google by this implementation--it seems like they didn't really think it through.

You're looking for utility; whereas, I believe they are taking a pro-active step against Facebook's newly awarded patents on "social search."

Regarding utility: it's Google, so they'll iterate...

Regarding competition: it's launched and available to the public now!

When Facebook acquired Friendster.com, this also gave control over lucrative patents that were awarded this year and last year.


Facebook didn't acquire Friendster. Facebook acquired one or more patents that Friendster had when Friendster was sold in 2009: http://techcrunch.com/2009/12/09/malaysias-mol-global-to-buy...

My main problem is actually the name itself. Facebook's "like" button works so well because it gives people a simple, self-explanatory button to press if they like something. Never mind the stuff it does behind the scenes, most people think if they click a "like" button, their friends will know they like it. It promotes self-reinforcing behaviour.

+1 doesn't do that. It's not immediately apparent what it's for, and it offers no incentive for use without knowing what it is. The icon itself doesn't tell you anything. "What is it, some kind of movie?" A simple thumbs up would have been much simpler, much more intuitive, and likely to gain greater traction. A simple note under the search bar saying, "Find what you were looking for? Give it the thumbs up and help us deliver better results" would likely have led to much higher usage. The average user doesn't need to know what it's being used for. Calling it "social" doesn't help in this context, because nobody thinks of social when they think of Google. Even telling people it would be shared with their email contacts is a terrible idea - email is for work and family, not messing around with friends. Just say that it's to help improve Search and reduce spam, and people will go along with it.

perhaps its simply endemic. Internally to Google (which presumably arose outside of Google) was the notion that folks who agreed would simply put +1 in their email. Some tools (especially code review tools) could parse that and agreeable phrases like "looks good to me" as the writers approval of the original message. Sort of an in-band upvote if you want an HN translation.

When I read about it this morning I thought to myself "well that makes sense to 'me' but I wonder if it will be opaque to folks without that context?" Sounds like for some people it is.

If you suggest to someone (at/formerly at) Google a course of action and they reply 'lgtm' that means "Ok" :-)

The Apache lists, for as long as I can remember, used +1/-1/-0/+0/etc. as a means of informally expressing approval, as well as explicitly registering a vote from committers.


That was the first place I'd seen it appear, although I assume it predates them.

I think the problem is that this will only make sense to geeks. This is the problem with a lot of Google's UI design, it's not designed for normal people and is often confusing for them.

I kinda agree, although my "search behavior" is slightly different from yours, so others may (will) be very different in their usage.

As well as a browser add-on (don't Google already have something similar to this?), I think it is more than likely that we'll see +1 buttons on web pages themselves (similar to Twitter tweet and Facebook like buttons), although obviously not every page will have this.

Taking this a step further, because of the mismatch you have identified, I think a lot of +1 activity will be self-promotion, marketing, etc... Where the user is simply implying: "I enjoy this site" and not "I think this result is particularly relevant to the search I just performed"

The problem with browser extensions is one of distribution -- how many people are going to install it?

They could just build it into Chrome. Problem solved.

You know, this reminds me that a good portion of the general populace has 1-2 inches of their screen taken up by browser toolbars with lots of icons and bookmarks. I have 8 buttons in chrome (min,max,close,back,fwd,refresh/abort,wrench and star), but they might have 80. What's another shiny +1 button?

Expect a Chrome extension in the near future, among others. If they don't do it soon, someone else will. That way it's just a button press while you're on the page. Should be pretty easily doable by tracking google->internet links and storing them temporarily so you can +1 them after the fact.

That's how you (and I) use search, but a huge number of people search for the same things every day. We use the location bar or bookmarks, but a lot of people just google, then click the first link.

These people see the same results again and again, and they only have to click +1 once.

Google +1 is more like facebook's like button. They want to have a presence across the web soon.

It's not the bookmarking that will take place during search time. It's the discovery!

If Google wants to be more persistent, they could easily use their Android and Chrome platforms to do it :)

If they combine it with the favorite star in Chrome then users have an incentive to upmark the material they like.

I still don't get this. What does my social circle have to do with my Google searches. I am friends with lots of people who I don't trust to influence my search results. The Hunch approach makes a lot more sense where it uses recommendations of people who have similar tastes to me. People I am friends with is not a good proxy for people who's opinion I care about when searching for camera documentation, or dog breeds, or Python libraries, or anything at all. I hope I'm proven wrong, but I just don't see it.

I think it would be more useful to show +1's from people who have similar search histories to you. That way if you search a lot for Python libraries and +1 useful content, the next guy doing a search for that will get useful recommendations. I don't see how non-techie people in your social circle could contribute in that regard.

Problem with finding similar people with similar preferences in Google's data is that the similarity matrix of any 2 people is very sparse.

I search for Python-stuff a lot, but I also search for stuff related to things I want to buy, or for people, or for my hobbies -- photography and now drawing.

The algorithm for finding similar people is going to have to be very smart (i.e. it should not rely on URLs alone), if at all possible.

This is what I am trying to do with my project with GAE: http://ting-1.appspot.com/rt?rt=python

At this point, I only have my own links; but if other people submit their own python links; and I figure how to sort by relevance, ting may be a good resource for search results without spam.

I think there's two things here.

1. they're trying to match the 'like' button. So you '+1' something, it goes in your profile and your friends can see it. It also would surprise me if there weren't a widget made available to publishers, so viewers of a source article could see if their friends '+1'd it.

2. They'll be able to use '+1' score as a factor in search result weighting along the lines you're suggesting. While they may still weight toward +1s from your social circle, this being Google, I doubt they'll settle for the simplest statistical use of the data.

As for the browsing flow problem -- i.e. how often are you looking at google search results after you determine the result is good -- I'd be surprised if the seemingly inevitable package for site owners didn't allowing people to '+1' directly at the source.

well i think they have to get some amt of data first... obviously they'll add this to the algorithm and let the machine learning decide how much to weight it. I think it will likely increase click throughs by a decent multiple (for the most +1'ed results). I actually did a proof of concept on organizing search results by facebook like counts last year http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1372311 (and oddly enough i did see a spike in mountain view traffic this past december :).

According to the blog post, "if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate."

From the example, what you see is "Laura Delaney +1'd this", so at the very least you can evaluate the "+1" based on what you know about Laura.

Better still would be if they include Laura's name because she's +1'd (what an awkward phrase) a lot of cooking results, maybe in proportion to links on other topics.

The problem with seeing strangers' +1s is that you can't validate their authority. However if I were to see that my friend who is an excellent photographer has +1'd something photography related, I would trust it more. Alternatively, if a friend who's taste in movies I disagree with +1's a movie, I'll know to ignore it.

If people use this, I see how it could be useful.

Exactly. Much of what's obligatorily "social" on the web is orthogonal to who my friends are, why they're my friends, and what I'm doing on the web at that time.

I can't ever remember doing a search for something where one of the results was so cool that I thought "hey, I'd like to share this search result with everyone I know!" or even "hey, I'd like everyone I know to know that I think this search result is cool!" If I was going to share something it would a. be the actual page, not just the search result, and b. likely not shared with my friends and the general public, but with a specific friend or co-worker or a small group of people.

A search result is so disconnected from your social circle that it's hard for me to understand how this ever made it past prototyping. Search results aren't like party pictures or baby pictures or what you had for breakfast or anything people share on Facebook or Twitter. They're generally not even answers to questions, they're just potential answers. The answer itself is what you'd like to share.

Clicking +1 on an ad seems ridiculous to me for all the same reasons as above, plus the additional reason that I would be embarrassed to share any ad that wasn't superbowl-funny or a direct savings ($5.00 off a movie or something) and I've never seen an Adsense ad come close to either of those. Sharing any other ad is just spamming your friends.

I think the reality of how +1 will be used will be more like this: you see your list of search results. The first three are so-so and the fourth one is great. You think to yourself "why the hell was the great result not at the top?" and then click the +1 button to promote it. Google uses this info as a signal, both globally and for your circle of friends.

I think it could work, as long as it's not gamed into uselessness.

Agreed. I'd +1 a link (if the button was still available when I got to the page) if it was anonymous (or at the very least, not shared with my social circle). Clicking one of these goes instantly to all my friends? I'll have Greasemonkey/Flashblock/Adblock(whichever is appropriate) removal in place ASAP, if just to protect myself from embarrasment!

Call me skeptical, but I'm not convinced by Google's partial rollout of their new social layer.

A while ago they rolled out the new top-bar and a little later they rolled out the new profiles and now this. It all kind of makes sense, but there is no killer app/driver for all these features.

The number of integration points seems to be a problem, too. Until last week Google Mail, Reader and Groups all used different revisions of the "Google bar" on top. Disabling Google Buzz in Gmail also removes your new shiny profile, etc..

I'm anxious to see where this is going.

Google as a whole is the killer app. They are just finally getting around to iterating through integrating their different products together.

Likely it will continue to be a trickle of small iterative improvements rather than big launches. Buzz and Wave were both presented as The Hot New Thing and both got a very cold shoulder from the general consumer market. Modesty and momentum seem to be key elements in Google's brand perception; the fact that you hardly ever see ads for Google on TV or other mass media is part of what differentiated the firm from Microsoft or Yahoo in the past.

More importantly, while having frequent minor upgrades on a wide variety of 'beta' software services gives some a feeling that 'nothing is ever finished,' it means that Google is not fighting for brand recognition with its products in most markets. Although there are several products, such as Sketchup, which are offered 'by Google' but have a separate brand, they're generally aimed at a small niche. Orkut is the only product I can think of that has a really large market (in Brazil) but is not obviously Google-branded in the way that Google Earth or Gmail are.

'Microsoft search' obviously wasn't working so they needed something different and settled on 'Bing!' - though they missed a trick by not using a variety of happy-sounding audio icons in the TV commercials and (optionally!) on the product itself. Intel's signature 'tune' has been a very successful element of their brand, and Microsoft had an opportunity to positively extend the host brand but instead opted to develop a new one in purely verbal terms. Their marketing team did a fairly good job - it could have become an embarrassing joke if they had not - but this year they're doing the same thing with the new slogan of 'to the cloud!' And of course, every 3-4 years they have to remind the general public that their computers are mostly running Windows.

You get the impression that Microsoft is vaguely embarrassed by its own name and its 1980s literalism, and so it hides behind a variety of hipper-sounding product offerings like an awkward parent at a youth club. Google is colorful and seemingly omnipresent, Apple is a healthy fruit with an iBrand, and IBM sounds so important that a quarter of the country probably thinks its part of the government. Yahoo...well, this says everything I feel about Yahoo's brand management: http://techcrunch.com/2008/08/25/yahoos-404-at-giants-stadiu... It's been there for years now, and I still snicker every single time I watch a Giants game. OK, only 1% of the public may be amused by such things, but the other 99% notice the reactions of the people who build/run/fix their computers, much as people listen to auto mechanics more closely than auto salesmen. that company is in dire, dire need of a brand makeover.

I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, Google should have done this years ago, even if it had no effect on result placement, think of all the data they could have collected. On the other hand, the big appeal of Google is the simplicity and minimal clutter, and this is just another useless (at least on the first search) thing added to the interface.

I think they've done this a few times, I remember there used to be an up and down arrow in search results, but they abandoned that a while back.

You could also add stars, and taglines...this is just another iteration.

Facebook "Like It". Google "+1". Assuming Google A/B tests just about everything, I'm surprised "+1" seemed like the winning choice. I don't hate it, I'm just surprised...

The problem with 'liking' something, which would be especially acute on Google, is that it just sounds downright wrong for some things. Perhaps you're looking for news on the Japanese Tsunami. No, I don't 'like' it. Yes, it's relevant to what I'm looking for.

Facebook's Like button can be either "Like" or "Recommend", and publishes the selected verb into news feed. Many news sites use recommend for this exact reason (NYT, for example).

Still valid argument on the meaning of the like or recommend verbs in certain contexts. Eg someone may write something I disagree with and I don't want to like or recommend it but I may +1 for being articulate or a point well made. Geek in me and maybe too many q&a sites but I think +1 works

This is heading in the right direction, but I remain skeptical of the simple "you're connected to this person through some service (probably unconnected to the search query), so you trust them" symbol as the main recommendation symbol. This is one way Color actually interests me, they're exploring new symbols for connection, even if I think they're kind of weird and hard to understand at first glance.

Won't know for sure until I try it though.

I don't know how well this +1 thing will work, because as many others have noted, it's not passive. I have to actively click on it, and that's not something I think about when I'm running a search.

The you're connected to this person thing, however, has worked out quite well for me. A lot of the time, I'm looking for something that someone I follow on Twitter shared - and it just bubbles up for me. I'm a fan.

When you say "right direction", what is the end goal that you are referring to?

Thank you Google for trying out. But it doesn't look like something I am going to use because most of my social contacts don't have a clue about my professional life - which is what I am searching for mostly.

Unfortunately, Google just doesn't know enough about my social graph to make this much more than a noisy list of strangers and site owners trying to game the system.

They say they "may" "soon" incorporate your connections on sites "like" Twitter which would be an improvement but from the language it sounds like they haven't even talked to Twitter about it yet.

Of course they don't mention Facebook, who do know my social graph and are busy collecting Likes around the web that they can use to build a robust, trustworthy recommendations product. It's going to be hard for Google to build the assets they need to avoid ceding part of the search market to Facebook.

Social search is likely the next killer app. The tastes of my friends are far more relevant to me than the judgement of bots.

The question is, who will do it better: Google or Facebook? The search engine or the social graph?

Have you really thought this through? For example, here are 3 possible search queries:

1) Is Blockbuster Movie any good?

Here the opinions of your friends might be more valuable to you, as valuable to you, or less valuable to you, depending on how important it is to you to have the same taste as your friends or whether you consider their movie tastes similar to your own.

2) Courtship rituals of early-modern spain

Here the opinions of your friends are almost certainly less relevant than that of a bot, unless you run in a very niche circle.

3) Directions to Skyline Chili

Here the bot is almost definitely a better choice than your friends.

Lastly, you always have to fall back to a bot because most searches are not going to have many results that friends have actively curated. So bots will continually have a place in search, and I would argue will because more important over time, as they become smarter.

I think you are oversimplifying the concept. Take your second example:


IMO the most informative result on that page is third from the bottom: a JSTOR link to an academic article published in the journal Hispania. That's probably because I spend all day reading journal articles -- as do most of my friends. A smart "social search" algorithm would integrate that signal, along with whatever the bot returns, and promote that link for me and the people with whom I associate. By the same token, the majority of searchers would probably prefer the top link, which is an about.com summary of the topic.

I am as skeptical as they come regarding the "social" fad. But it's difficult for me to see how Google's search algorithms couldn't be improved by incorporating this stuff.

[Excluding his Facebook vs Google argument, and back to the original post]

+1 doesn't offer search by your friends or traditional Google search. It is augmenting traditional search with relevant data from your social graph. If You are searching for directions to Skypline Chili and your friend (or friend of a friend) has +1'd a link, it is probably the best directions to the restaurant.

It isn't search or +1. It is search+1.

Are you from Cincinnati?

No, KY. We have Skyline here too (though I'm not a fan!)

I think Google has a bit of an upper hand here. They already have search data, so if they can combine that with the social data...

Plus, I don't necessarily have all that much in common with my friends, but if Google can categorize me and say "oh, people with similar interests as you liked this", that's likely much more relevant. This isn't to say Facebook couldn't do something similar, I just feel like this is much more up Google's alley.

If it is going to affect search ranking than it is the time to build network of professional (+1) recommenders with whole bunch of profiles with fake pictures and googleplex of "friends" build via social gaming. Basic package +1000 for your search term on 30th page to move it up a notch $99.99. Does domain name GooZynga available? :-) Anybody want to apply late for that project - it is a future of a Social Search... :-) You know "next big thing" :-)

April +1

Dear Google,

It's been great knowing you for all these years, but you're really starting to creep my out.

I've trusted you with my 1,000 contacts in my email system. I've trusted you because you've said repeatedly that you're not going to be evil. I've trusted you with what I'm saying in my emails, because you've said repeatedly that no one really reads my email, you just automatically scan it and provide "helpful" ads.

And then, you gave me a really shiny phone, and I was in love. (You know I don't like Apple. They hurt me, and I've never forgiven them). I really liked how you made my live easier, and all my email contacts were automatically in my phone. And, anything that I updated in my phone, showed up in my email system.

You also really helped me out by by making it really easy to find things by using my phone. Your navigation system is really, really nice.

But, you're starting to really creep me out, Google.

First, you automatically gave me a "Profile" page, and linked all my contacts to it, without my permission.

And, now... You're changing my search results based on who I know and what they've liked. I trusted you with who I know. Please, stop using that information. If I want to know what links my friends have clicked on. I'll ask them. If I want to look at their pictures on flikr... I'll follow their photostream.

Please stop. You're really creeping me out. You know a lot about me, and I don't think I trust you any more.

So, this is it. I'm breaking up with you.

You've been following me around with my phone, so you know where I am at any given point in time. You know who I call and when I call them. You tried to get a record of all my phone calls with Google Voice, but that was just a little too creepy for me. You've had a record of every email that I've sent for the last few years, and you know most of what I'm looking for on the internet.

You're around me too much. You're following me. You want a record of my voice. You are showing me results that my "friends" are looking at. It's just too much. I'm leaving you.

As soon as my new phone comes in this week, I'm getting rid of your phone. I'm changing my email system to an Exchange based system. And, I'm switching my search engines to DuckDuckGo, Bing and Blekko.

I do appreciate your helpfulness in the past. But, you're getting way too close for comfort. Did I mention you're creeping me out?


When it comes to innovations in social web, attempts made by google look pathetic.

Anyone remember when Google Code blocked +1 comments?


And now Google is adding +1 to their search results. Arrgh!

I don't see my wife creating a google account so she can click +1 on a web page when there will be a facebook like button right next to the +1 button. Why would she? Her friends are on facebook.

This is a key point. Also, it's easy to "like" something if there is only one button. I feel I'm doing my friends a favor. When there are multiple buttons, I feel like I'm doing work for the website operator. The only exception would be the case where the content is really so awesome that I feel the whole world needs to know about it. My first thought after reading about how it works was "How can we consolidate all the vendors into a single 'like' button?"

Someone like add this may create one. There are already plenty of ways you can turn a like into a share on facebook, twitter, Tumblr etc instapaper's new social options is one

Her friends don't use Google?

Perhaps they do use google, but I suspect the number of people who actually use google as opposed to the number of people who have a google account is quite the gap. This is mostly because you simply don't need a google account to actually use google, while with facebook lacking an account essentially makes the site pointless.

When Yahoo acquired Delicious, I assumed Yahoo would use Delicious users' links, tags, and relationships to create "social-powered search" like Google's +1.

But I guess I gave Yahoo too much credit.

Seems like an interesting way to try and tie in a social aspect to their search, but I think they're at a bit of a disadvantage when compared to Facebook mostly because Google profiles are not ubiquitously used. If you don't have anyone to share your +1s with then after some time I'd suspect people won't bother. I think redesigning the profile page was a step in the right direction and I think they have to come up with something to get people to fill them out and use them.

Might be a nice idea to buy communities like github, photo.net and import user identities from there. Of course the privacy and the UX of such a move will dictate whether users go "wow this is great" or "oh my god now the whole internet knows about my tinfoil hat". In the meanwhile they could try to integrate identities from services that google already owns - youtube, picasa, google reader etc.

There should have been a +1 button on Google's blog post. :-)

I think Google went about this ass-backward.

I can seldom judge the usefulness of a site just based on a list of returned results -- however -- I can often filter out junk (anything from experts-exchange for example). So it seems to me a -1 button would have been better. Not to mention less creepy than tracking sites I like based on my interaction with a search engine.

I have to imagine “social media marketing” types are planning obvious ways to exploit this as we speak.

Does Google think we all have superpowers? How do I know I want to +1 a link before I see it?

The first thing I did. I went and voted for my own projects :-)

I can see the value for shopping/purchase related searches.

Google has cluttered its search results page with Preview button, Social search results and now the +1 button making it difficult to locate content.

Google is late to the party, I thought they understood it when nobody used the 'buzz' button.

People are taking this seriously? Looks like an April fools joke.

Better implementation - An in chrome button you can hit that -1 the current url. I'll never remember to +1 a site once I've clicked the link, but I do say WTF!?! once I'm there and I do want to sink the bad links w/o going back. Would be a cross-browser Addon.

Does anyone think "You +1'd this publicly" sounds quite ominous ?!

Does this feel like an April fools joke to anyone else?

+1 A Like button integrated with search.


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