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Great interview, they both brought up some interesting points.

I still can't agree with what Page says about 'personalised results' though. He talks about 'search understanding you' as if it just makes existing search 'better'. But to me search is about 'I know what I'm looking for so I ask for something specific', usually looking for a fairly certain answer. If this involves my search history, or people that I know, I will be able to tell the search platform that when I search, I don't want them to assume this on my behalf - this just makes my results less specific than I originally intended.

Its a bit of a conflation between advertising and search really, they are trying to second guess what I am interested in before I know it, which I'm not sure is very positive.




But to me search is about 'I know what I'm looking for so I ask for something specific', usually looking for a fairly certain answer. If this involves my search history, or people that I know, I will be able to tell the search platform that when I search, I don't want them to assume this on my behalf - this just makes my results less specific than I originally intended.

We (the HN community) are not the target audience for these optimizations. Ever watched your mom type in a search query? It's aweful, sometimes I'm amazed at the results Google can produce for crappy search queries. It's those people that will benefit tremendously from these kind of optimizations.

For us, who do not want the personalised search results, the standard answer has been that we should simply log off and it will be generic. While I do feel that Google should simply make this an account preference (so I don't have to log off from my gmail account just to be able to use search in a fashion I appreciate), I can clearly see and appreciate why Google is going for personalised search.


I think we probably use this feature far more than any other segment - terms we use for our technologies are often overloaded. I don't want to have to constantly specify whether I want gems to be gem stones or ruby packages.


For the record, having personalized search results is a setting in the search preferences[1], accessible through the gear icon on the search results page.

[1]: https://www.google.com/preferences?hl=en


When I search for "Eclipse Java", I want results about the IDE. When my girlfriend searches, she's probably interested in Twilight-themed coffee or something. That's what personalization is all about.


And if you usually search for programming languages, but this time want to understand what your 13-year-old cousin keeps blabbing about? Suddenly it all falls apart and everything about the whole process seems murky and over-complex.


The idea is that ambiguous search queries would default to the meanings related to your normal search behavior, and if on a particular occasion you discover Google resolves the ambiguity incorrectly, you could make your query more precise. In the above scenario, you could search for `java eclipse stephenie meyer' and your 13-year-old cousin could search for `java eclipse ide'.


Maybe there should be an advanced search option like that ...

    twilight java pov:"thirteen year old girl"
Joking aside, there are probably other ways of clarifying that if you know what you are doing (e.g. add 'vampire' to the terms).


That might get you an IDE plugin for working with Java VAMPIRE tools for Bayesian statistical analysis of gene expression array data.


In my experience, for overloaded terms, the less pertinent one tends to pop up near the bottom of the front page. For example, when I search for "Python" the sixth result is about snakes.


Open an incognito tab. Done.


...and that level of personalization requires that Google collects a lot of personal data about you. Happy to make the trade-off?




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