Google tries to help with those sorts of search sessions. For 0.3% of queries, if we see a search for a query A and then another search for query B, and there appear to be good results related to both A and B, then we may surface those results.
For example, I just did the search [iphone] and then the search [wikipedia]. In addition to the regular results for Wikipedia, Google also surfaces the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone . A good way to see that Google is doing this is to look for a phrase like "You recently searched for iphone" under the newly-surfaced results. Go ahead and try it with the search [twilight] and then the search [wikipedia] for example.
Between Gabriel's article and the WSJ article, words that are reported to provide this behavior include iphone, nexus, obama (but not romney, because there wasn't enough information for this word at the time the data was generated), tablet, twilight, computer, health, speech, iraq, sports, social security, and stock.
Just to reiterate, this algorithm affects 0.3% of searches on Google. Most Hacker News readers are savvy enough to search for [iphone wikipedia] instead of breaking that search into multiple queries. However, if you don't want Google to surface additional results that might help with your current query, Google has a support page telling how to turn off search history personalization: https://support.google.com/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&...
As an aside, I wrote a blog post ~4 years ago to preemptively debunk the idea that Google skews our search results for political reasons: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-search-and-politics/ We simply don't do that.
We used to have a problem with spelling where some news event would make a person with an uncommon name famous, but google would mistakenly correct it to a more common but incorrect name just because the spelling system hadn't ever seen this person's name before. We've fixed that issue and many other freshness related things: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-mo... but this is an ongoing area of focus throughout a lot of our systems.
It's an interesting problem because for many things recomputing the data faster will only fix a handful of queries, so from a raw impact standpoint hardly seems worth it. However those queries end up being ones that are in the news and related to things that people care a lot about.
So pretty please: http://vanilla.google.com . Just like the old days :)
> obvious and opt-out
I'd tell you to pick one, but that implies choice. You can only pick google.
But seriously, tell me why DDG is awesome and unique, stop bashing the competition. It was fun at the beginning but now it's getting old. Like basecamp bashing microsoft project at the beginning, it was ok, when was the last time you read 37signals still writing about how bad MS Project is? Exactly.
Stop spreading FUD about Google and tell us what's great about DDG. Google Search is an awesome product that changed the world, it gives great results and at much greater speed than DDG. Beat them at that and I'll give DDG a go. Not for any scary reasons.
I also of course don't think this is FUD at all. As far as I know, this is the first quantitative study of any kind about the filter bubble. I think it is hard to dismiss a concept out of hand when it hasn't even been effectively studied yet.
Also, the filter bubble it is not an effective marketing message because it requires too much education given it is a complicated subject no one knows about.
I also think tailoring can be just fine when it is opt-in and you are in complete control of your data.
As for DuckDuckGo, we've been telling people plenty about new stuff. Most recently we've been focused on our open-source plugin platform -- DuckDuckHack, http://duckduckhack.com/ -- where you can hack the search engine. And people have been doing it and making cool stuff, e.g. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=khan+math and lots of others: https://duckduckgo.com/goodies/.
It's been more than a year now since you're writing anti-google and anti-personalized results articles. It's getting old and people love personalized results. I don't think it should be made opt-in as I think Google (and any product) should make the best option opted-in by default, and personalized results is the best option as it offers the best experience for regular users. Why would they offer a worst experience by default? It doesn't make sense. Also, most people don't know or care enough about changing options so they'd just keep the worst experience by default.
Let's take my brother's example again, if he searched for "ruby" and got results about rails and ruby.rb first before the gemstone because they are more popular than ruby the gemstone, my brother would just be confused and may even waste time clicking on the rails link first. So what should google do, propose a link that would say "opt-in to have search results that actually make sense to you". Do you see how absurd and bad UX that would be?
People who care about these kinds of things already opted-out, in fact, the most paranoid hackers I know don't even use DDG, they use Google+Thor and turn JS/cookies off. It's cool that DDG is adding more features but that's not anything I care enough to use or I could just write a quick google chrome script that'd do the same.
it seems to me that both google and ddg have problems here, ddg in not personalising at all, and google in personalising things that really shouldn't be.
I think DDG has some personalization based on your location, for example if I search "weather" it shows me the weather near me.
I don't mind it as a bit of election-related marketing, but it doesn't strike me as very rigorous.
I've been generally curious about DDG for awhile now and I'm still trying to figure out why I should make a switch. If I understand correctly; DDG is trying to solve a problem in internet search so that people can't find things easier on the internet without sacrificing knowledge about one's self or behaviors, and your organization believes that that problem is largely due to the opt-out nature (or rather how you are automatically opt-in'd to everything) of Google's platform.
I guess, I, like many others who have expressed interest, don't see the problems with this. More commonly, I can't say my mother or my boss or anyone else I know is encountering this as a problem or a challenge. I'm happy to be wrong.
I find this whole topic absolutely fascinating, especially after having recently read Nudge by Richard Thaler, which basically is a whole book which talks about the value of libertarian paternalism. In other words, how opt-out choice architecture can be much more suitable than having completely free choice. Would love to know your thoughts. Great blog, this is fascinating stuff!
Assume that Gabriel is 100% sincere and explain why his concerns are unwarranted. Personally, I find the "it's only .3%" of searches argument fatuous. That's the current rate. You can be sure Google is trying to "improve" that number. It's not clear to me what the consequences for this sort of search segmentation down the line are, but it definitely worries me. Confirmation bias is already a gigantic drag on human progress. I don't need the chief intellectual discovery engine of the world reinforcing it!
Their search is lean. It doesn't feel exagerated by a lot of advertising optimization. It has the !bang feature that allows users to quickly refine searches. Though Blekko uses the /search-term which is also very useful. Back to DDG, their user experience (in my opinion) is better. Things are more clear and concise. Results for programming related stuff are very very good. In fact, if Nuuton manages to be half as good as DDG, I will have considered it a success. Not sucking up to anyone here, but I just love the damn thing. Been an user for more than a year.
Perhaps avoid his blog next time, since he's clearly passionate about it and likely to do similar articles.
I'd like to see screenshots of ^ that, if you are able to get your hands on them, please.
I'm mollified somewhat that the Obama magic results that came up when searching for Romney were from Fox News, but I still feel a faint disease at the whole concept.
I've been using DDG for several months now and like it. It hasn't matched Google on technical searches, but on general information searches, I prefer the results to be less biases by me.
1. I would personally prefer to never see a link to Fox News. However, if every search for Obama was extolling his virtues and every search for Obama was extolling his virtue, my unease would be outright disgust and I would be contacting my Congressman. My unease comes from not knowing why they might show me something, other than to echo back what I already think, wchich is noot a very useful set of information. I already know that.
[Obama], [Iran], [Obama Iran]
[Romney], [Iran], [Romney Iran]
And that difference could be because people searching one path are slightly more likely to keep refining simple queries ("try, try again"), versus other people more likely to combine-up-front ("measure twice, cut once").
As the Wall Street Journal confirmed in its own study, Google has been significantly altering its search results to highlight Obama-related results, but not Romney-related results (more on that later).
These Obama-related results are being inserted because obama is a magic keyword on Google. A magic keyword is a search that can transform the Google results of later searches.
Incredibly shady. Changing the results of later searches based on things I searched for in the past is the complete opposite of what I want a search engine to do.
Really? If I search for Python stuff, I want it to learn that I mean the language and not the animal. I want it to learn that when I type "Socrates", I mean the Greek philosopher and not my ex-Prime Minister.
Learning from the the user is all about changing the results based on past searches, and I think it can be very useful. Just not always.
If, on the other hand, Google accumulates history until you sink into a morass of similar results, it's clearly harmful.
> A Google spokesman said: "We aim to get users the best
> answers as fast as possible" using techniques such as
> examining "related searches." He said the goal for the
> feature is to provide better results in a situation
> where, for instance, a person who searches for "Harry
> Potter," and then for "Amazon," actually wants "Harry
> Potter" results from Amazon.com Inc. He said that the
> technique saves Google users time and provides better
> answers, but affects only about 0.3% of the searches the
> company conducts.
for instance, a person who searches for "Harry
Potter," and then for "Amazon," actually wants "Harry
Potter" results from Amazon.com Inc.
Google has been serving personalized results for a while now, but this is probably first time it attracted such widespread attention from media.
The "you recently searched for obama" results appeared below the fold and the story was quite frankly very unlikely to be noticed unless it was something I was looking for specifically, which is probably google's algorithm's intent.
I tried running the search in battleground states and the same results showed up and I tried a bunch of searches like "Romneys plan" "why vote for romney" "who should I vote for" "vote for romney" and none of them showed obama results...
P.S. I am a libertarian who voted for Romney and I approve this message.
So does this guy ( http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bu... ) on TED and will easily convince you if you aren't already.
I suspect that someone searching for these keywords are looking for reinforcement of their predetermined beliefs. Which is exactly what personalized search would do.
It's not particularly good for the world to have Obama searches be filled with either Fox news results or MSNBC (pro-Obama/Dem) results.
I think it'll be interesting to see the Google response to this. I think the most important question is whether identifying magic keywords happens automatically, or is programmer input involved?
I believe the main idea behind using DDG is that it does not personalise, collect data, etc. It's a feature rather than a bug. Your attack on DDG seems to ignore some facts...
If that is FUD, that is some pretty damn creepy FUD.
AFAIK (when I last checked), Chrome keeps no data between incognito sessions. If data is being kept, it should be extremely easy to spot and a bug should be filed. "This weird thing happened" isn't really a sufficient response to that theory.
If there isn't data being kept and transmitted, it means either the testers left open an incognito tab or something without noticing (easier to do than with private browsing, since private browsing closes all non-private browsing tabs until private browsing is over), or that google is tweaking results based on search history saved server side by ip address (and maybe other id-able browser characteristics), but only if the browser identifies itself as Chrome, not e.g. Firefox. There doesn't seem to be any real advantage there (and you'll likely just end up polluting anything but the coarsest of clustering), but that's just speculation.
I'm not able to reproduce the behavior in Chrome (though I'm having trouble reproducing even simple magic keyword behavior in incognito mode in the first place), so more data would be appreciated.