Google Knol - Google's Latest Attack on Copyright

Knol Off to a Quick Start

One day after Knol publicly launched Wil Reynolds noticed that a Knol page was already ranking. Danny Sullivan did a further test showing that 33% of his test set of Knol pages were ranking in the first page of search results. Danny was also surprised that his Knol was ranking #28 after 1 day. After citing it on his blog now that Knol page ranks #1 in Google!

Google's House Advantage

From the above data (and the aggressive promotion of YouTube content after the roll out of universal search) it is fair to state that house content is favored by the Google algorithm.

Another Knol Test

Maybe we are being a bit biased and/or are rushing to judgement? Maybe a more scientific effort would compare how Knol content ranks to other content when it is essentially duplicate content? I did not want to mention that I was testing that when I created my SEO Basics Knol, but the content was essentially a duplicate of my Work.com Guide to Learning SEO (that was also syndicated to Business.com). Even Google shows this directly on the Knol page

Google Knows its Duplicate Content

Is Google the Most Authoritative Publisher?

Given that Google knows that Business.com is a many year old high authority directory and that the Business.com page with my content on it is a PageRank 5, which does Google prefer to rank? Searching for a string of text on the page I found that the Knol page ranks in the search results.

If I override some of Google's duplicate content filters (by adding &filter=0 to the search string) then I see that 2 copies of the Knol page outrank the Business.com page that was filtered out earlier.

Some may call this the Query Deserves Freshness algorithm, but one might equally decide to call it the copyright work deserves to be stolen algorithm. Google knows the content is duplicate (as proven by the notification they put on their page), and yet they prefer to rank their own house content over the originally published source.

Hijacking Your Rankings via Knol - Google Knoljacking

Where this becomes a big issue is if a person...

  • posts your content to Knol
  • and buys/rents/begs/steals/spams/borrows a couple decent inbound links

they can get you filtered out of the search results - even if your site is an authority site. Bad news for anyone publishing copyright work online.

Google Knol Undermines the Creative Commons Spirit

Some new publishers decide to license their work via Creative Commons (hoping to be paid back based on the links economy), but Google wants no part in that! All outbound links on Knol are nofollow, so even if a person wants to give you credit for your work Google makes it impossible to do so.

Google Voids YOUR Copyright

Why do I get enraged by this sort of activity? I remember when one of my sites was voted against, and Google paid someone to steal it and wrap it in AdSense. The person who stole my content outranked me for my own content because a Google engineer thought that was reasonable and fair.

To this day someone publishes seobookopen.blogspot.com, a site dedicated to stealing and sharing an old version of my ebook. As the opening post on that blog explains

www.seobook.com very famous book from Aaron Wall its really good but paying $79 its really sucks so yesterday, I think why not to share this book to my friends etc openly in text by decompling Acrobat files

Can a casual mention get it removed? Nope. Can flagging it as spam and highlighting that it is stolen copyright content get it removed? Nope. I need to file a DMCA request to get it removed. (Or maybe they will remove it out of embarrassment after I hit publish on this post...we shall see!)

Google Pays Thieves

Google doesn't like lonely cheating housewives, unless it favors their business objectives.

Published: July 28, 2008

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Comments

July 27, 2008 - 6:25pm

Aaron I'm with you. It just doesn't seem right that knol pages are ranking higher than pages on trusted sites that have been up way longer. Especially when the content is basically duplicated.

There definitely needs to be some serious investigation done here. Thanks for bringing this to light.

July 27, 2008 - 6:48pm

i agree with you aswell Aaron
i wrote a similar post on my vipey blog about this matter

it seems like Google is heavily favoring Knol to other sites in their serps

be interesting to see what happens in the future

July 27, 2008 - 6:59pm

Great Post Aaron!

It seems silly that their page should rank higher. I have to imagine that this changes at some point. As far as content goes, I am removing my Creative Commons limited non-commercial license to a full "all rights reserved."

I spend my time, energy, and yes money to own my content and I will be damned if someone is going to just take it while I let them! So, until the dust settles on this Knol thing, I have to pull my Creative Commons.

July 27, 2008 - 7:29pm

looks like your using personalized search from the screen shots, turn it off ehow gets the top spot

http://tinyurl.com/6r5zc6

Can I suggest this plugin for FF

http://yoast.com/seo-tools/disable-personalized-search-plugin/

Sadly the lightbulb won't go on for most ppl until it starts ranking for commercial terms in which case it will be too late.

July 27, 2008 - 7:35pm

Hi Graywolf
I just updated the screenshots to non-personalized ones.

Also, when the string is "in quotes" it returns some of those other sites, but if it is not in quotes all the other copies except Knol are filtered out for me unless I add &filter=0

July 27, 2008 - 7:56pm

IIRC this knol was featured the first day and it's ranking

http://tinyurl.com/5r488m

July 27, 2008 - 8:12pm

I had found that on the second day of Knol being open to the public if you were to search for toilet clogs on Google the Knol page ranked at number 5 over a much older wikihow article ranking at 6 . The only difference I could really find between the two articles was that (a)the wikihow article was much older (b)The Knol page is a Google property. This makes me think that the Google owned pages already get a bump up in the rankings simply because of who owns them.

July 27, 2008 - 10:40pm

All of which, sadly, is pretty much what we expected, no?

Must be nice to be 'inside' the farm, and not have to work for authority :(

July 27, 2008 - 11:23pm

This type of thing actually scares me. I get worried about the future of the internet if stolen content can get ranked higher than its original source. I own a site full of original content and to think it could just be taken and credit removed so easily makes me wonder ....

Great post Aaron and for all its worth, I prefer to buy books, software, music than get it for free.

July 28, 2008 - 2:47am

I agree with all of your points, but when I read posts like this, I like to remember that Google's search is an algorithm, and I think you are talking at it as if it was a person.

There will always be inconsistencies in computer system of ranking pages and displaying content and for Google to sweat the details of every errand of seemingly unfair result would not be sustainable business, when there are gazillions of web pages.

All things considered, as much fun as it is for us SEOs to shake a stick at Google, it's safe to say they do a pretty great job...no?

July 28, 2008 - 8:08am

Hi Jonny
But Google is not just an algorithm. It is very much a living breathing thing. Some examples

  • Knol exists because a Google engineer wanted Google to have more content
  • they hire over 10,000 remote quality raters
  • engineers also do additional spam hunting
  • any time humans are involved the results are indeed subjective, especially given that in some cases they care more about who created the content or how it was promoted more than they care about the actual quality of the information
  • Matt Cutts often shapes the direction of what is considered legitimate or not through his blogging and speaking at many of the industry conferences
  • Matt Cutts commented on this very post (right below your comment no less)
July 28, 2008 - 3:46am

Hey Aaron, about the site that was posting your ebook: we do proactively look for webspam, but typically not for copyright violations. Even though that guy appeared to be criticizing you, for all we know you and he could have had an agreement. That's why we normally wait until someone complains (via the DMCA process) about being copied. Just to be crystal-clear, you're saying that site is copying your book without your permission?

As far as "Google paid someone to steal it and wrap it in AdSense," if this is the incident I remember--that site was not only kicked out of Google's index, but the publisher was also banned from AdSense after you mentioned it.

July 28, 2008 - 8:20am

Hi Matt
Back when I was selling my ebook for $79 why would I work out a deal with so no name blogspot blogger to steal it and widely distribute it for free? That would be like Google working a deal to provide free unlimited AdWords ads to people selling commercial goods...probably not going to happen without some obvious strategic reasons (and some associated press coverage).

And as far as how Google should have known that the site had problems, a person flagging it should be enough to get it reviewed. And if the flag system isn't enough then one should make the flag system better. Look how easy it was for me to verify my identity for Knol. Why must the removal of copyright work require legal documents when the removal of spam does not?

My personal opinion on the answer to that question is that Google knows they are using the work of theives to help commoditize information to force the original providers to be more open, increasing the quality of Google's search results and giving Google more ad inventory.

And the second piece of this gripe is that on Knol you show that you guys are fairly sophisticated at detecting duplicate content (or, at least the worst kinds of it). Why not scan new sites in the AdSense program to check for potential issues?

You guys hire over 10,000 remote quality raters (according to Marissa Meyer)...surely it couldn't take more than a week of programming from 1 engineer and a few dozen of those quality raters to catch most of the obvious issues with shady AdSense publishers. How can you fight spam all day and not care that your company is funding some non-trivial percentage of it?

With Knol showing the % similar it seems like most of the needed programming work has already been done. The only remaining issue is whether or not Google cares about the issue of stolen copyright work wrapped in their ads - the clear answer so far has been a decisive lack of interest.

July 28, 2008 - 4:43am

Here's an idea. If knol pages are truly ranking so well, as they definitely appear to be - let's start writing some Knols about how it works.

Hopefully this corrects itself. I've been a fan & supporter of so much that Google does, I would hate to see them undermine it all by starting to favor their own content.

It all makes you at least consider the huge conflict of interest if the authority on searching and ranking content can become a creator and publisher of content.

July 28, 2008 - 5:35am

There is no better incentive than what your post points out here. Thanks for sharing your findings.

If you want to know where your content is going, including seobook.blogspot.com, don't hesitate to contact me.

Attributor is focused on the opportunity (e.g. link building, ad share) of content re-use, but we have several customers who also use us to stop recurring stealing of their content.

Rich
http://www.attributor.com/link_building_beta

July 28, 2008 - 8:03am

Hi Rich
Does Attributor have an automated feature that automatically grabs content from your site and automatically checks the similar pages to see if they link bakc, or is much of the process manual?

July 28, 2008 - 8:02am

Interesting post.
I think your being slightly over critical on something this yoyung Aaron but you still have a point, if Google is just going to rank Knols automatically what's the point in trying to rank for any specific term when I could just create a knol on a variation of the keyword and let Google do the work?

This devalues both their search engine and their new product and I hope Google can take the time to see that.

Equally however I don't think it's Googles fault that someone copied your book up there Aaron, loads of people steal ebooks and virtual content, I am sure you know of other places your book has been circulated for free?

In response to Matt's comment about having to submit a complaint;
Don't you feel this is a reactive rather than proactive to people both producing webspam, manipulating results and your adsense program? Surely their is a middle ground solution that would filter some of the lazy spammers out.

July 28, 2008 - 10:00am

Interesting post indeed...there's no doubt that Google loves their in-house stuff and gives it a little extra juice in the SERPS.

Aaron, did you do any link building for the Knol you created to get it indexed quickly and ranked high?

Or did you simply publish it in the Knol system and bammo...there it was ranking high in no time flat for "seo basics"?

Although, "seo basics" per SEOBKWT has it around 4 searches per day so very low search and competition at 362k results...I wonder how well a Knol does for a competitive term?

John

July 28, 2008 - 10:58am

Hi John
I mentioned it in a blog post on this site. It also picked up a few other links from other sites, but I didn't think it was enough to have it compete with the Work.com and Business.com pages, especially given that it was brand new and essentially duplicate content.

July 28, 2008 - 11:17am

Aaron, I got into webspam because it really irked me and I wanted to improve Google's quality. Over time I've worked with the AdSense folks and the AdSense team has driven a lot of spam out of AdSense. Copyright is further afield for me, and although it's an important area, it's also a complex area (not even starting to tackle how copyright is handled in different languages). When things veer into legal areas I normally leave that up to other Googlers who know more than me.

I will ask someone from Blogger about the blog that you mentioned though and ask them to investigate it.

July 28, 2008 - 12:16pm

Thnx Matt

July 28, 2008 - 11:59am

Matt I would like to hear your opinion on Knol rankings, do you believe Knol should automatically rank because you believe it a controlled source of information or do you think it's insta-rankings are unfair and should be adjusted?

Do you agree that abundant Knol rankings (as with any similar site including Wikipedia) devalues Google search?

I don't want to make Google or the Knol project "the bad guy" but look at it from a w/h SEO point of view, it's an unfair playing field and it WILL drive people to spam and blackhat.

July 28, 2008 - 2:54pm

yes, you are right. Google is biased and can be exploited. Like any winner it is biased. Instead of blaming just duplicate your content summary, post it in Knol and direct visitors to your site and the strategy works wonders. Many times we cant stop the big bulls but can ride on them :D

July 28, 2008 - 4:08pm

To sum up my previous comments about Google being an algorithm I guess I really don't agree with this statement:

"house content is favored by the Google algorithm"

I think that if you create a subdomain off of any PageRank 10 domain, it's results are going to rank highly. I just don't see the conspiracy her.

(btw. "Email me about replies to this comment." doesn't seem to be working)

July 28, 2008 - 4:33pm

I think that if you create a subdomain off of any PageRank 10 domain, it's results are going to rank highly. I just don't see the conspiracy here.

That in an of itself is a form of a bias. By the rating system they created they leveraged their market position into a position that only a few dozen sites are in and then leverage it to promote other verticals or businesses.

And universal search *does* operate outside the traditional web graph. They didn't start aggressively featuring YouTube videos in the search results until after they bought YouTube. That *is* favoring house content and house business objectives in the organic search results.

I will look into the email reply link.

July 28, 2008 - 4:44pm

Aaron,

It's automatic - we can grab your RSS/Atom feed or crawl your site.

After this, you just log-in and you can see which sites are using your content, how much of it has been copied (expressed as % and number of words), if a link is present and if advertising is on the page.

With this info, you decide to request a link, ask for licensing or ad share or, as last resort, send a DMCA notice. All three of these actions can be done through our platform.

I'm happy to set you up with an account if you want to check it out.

Rich

July 28, 2008 - 5:01pm

Sure Rich. I would love to give it a try. :)

July 28, 2008 - 5:20pm

Great - we'll get you set up and contact you mid week with login credentials.

We can start with your blog feed - let me know if you want us to put anything else in. It's very easy to content later.

Rich

July 28, 2008 - 5:25pm

Thanks Rich :)

July 28, 2008 - 11:06pm

Attributor credentials just sent via email. Happy to walk your through any of this, including workflow enhancements

July 28, 2008 - 6:38pm

Hi Aaron,

very interesting (in a not-so-positive way).

What is going to keep Google from turning the internet into Googlenet/leveraging their market position to get people to create content for them in their network instead of the real internet?

Could something like that ever happen or is it highly unlikely/impossible because of certain factors?

July 28, 2008 - 7:21pm

"That's why we normally wait until someone complains (via the DMCA process) about being copied"

The trouble is do you know how involved the DMCA process is?

Additionally, you have to declare that you've sent notification to the offender - but try doing that to someone stealing your work and publishing it to an anonymously registered and hosted domain.

I've sent notices via Adsense ads of what's going on, but Google Adsense play at being dumb when that happens. As Aaron says, so long as Google benefits, Google does drag its feet on the issue.

If Google Adsense need a DMCA just to take any form of action on stolen content, even though the content can clearly be referenced to an original source as an exact copy, then this is plain lazy.

I like Google: I respect Google for what it aspires to, and I am happy to try and work within Google's boundaries - but when other people refuse to, engage in blatant acts of theft, and Google does nothing punitive but instead collects Adsense earnings, this can only develop bad feeling for the future.

2c.

July 28, 2008 - 9:02pm

@iBrian - provided you are willing to legally sign-off that the content is yours, we can take a lot of the hassle out of sending removal notices. The sign-off amounts to checking a box but represents your electronic signature.

We also give you flexibility of sending removal notices to the host, ad network that is monetizing the page and the search engine that is indexing it.

A lot of our customers are avoiding some of the potential hassles of sending removal notices to the host; instead they just send to the search engines and ad network.

lmk if you want more info.

July 28, 2008 - 8:38pm

We all expected Knol to boost rankings for its hosted content, original or not. What surprised me is that publishing on Knol does not automatically put you into Knol's search results; apparently, articles are subject to manual approval or disapproval by Google employees.

I thought this recent Knol post on Sphinn was just a joke, but it now seems frighteningly prescient.

July 29, 2008 - 2:00am

The main that I wanted to get at, and again don't take this wrong, but I'm pissed off how Google treats A list bloggers compared to everyone else. The fact that Matt Cutts actually comes down from the Google heavens to address your complaints and even offers to help you deal with the copyright infringement without you having to submit a DMCA is annoying to me. I don't think it's your fault at all for that, but I think it's annoying that Google has no means or line of communication for smaller or medium sites, only sites it deems as having strategic importance to please.

It's far easier for someone such as yourself, to get information about your site being penalized or a site stealing your content, then it is for any other webmaster without as much significance or popularity from Google. I think this is a serious issue that Google needs to work on, and again I don't blame you or Matt for this, it's a serious problem with Google's transparency.

To just give an example, Yahoo has a paid option for them to look in to your site. The fact that is available is nice, but again I don't think people should have to pay to know the status of their site in the index. But again I can understand. What I don't like however is having to have a certain level of percieved importance by Google to find out why your content is being allowed on a blog or Google run program like blogger or googlepages.

July 29, 2008 - 5:39am

iBrian, we try to make the process of doing a DMCA complaint pretty straightforward, without creating an incentive in the wrong direction where someone can easily spam DMCA requests to remove the competition. Usually the first DMCA request feels a little harder, but after that people realize that the process is actually pretty simple.

Diablos, I commented on Knols over on Dare's post at http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/CommentView.aspx?guid=7fb38fd2-a79d-41... .

July 29, 2008 - 11:25am

Thanks for the link Matt, your comment was interesting and did make sense, I hope that these initial examples of knol's ranking so well in a short time are just effects of publicity and discussion, I suppose time will tell.

That in an of itself is a form of a bias. By the rating system they created they leveraged their market position into a position that only a few dozen sites are in and then leverage it to promote other verticals or businesses.

I am in half agreement with both of you regarding this.

On one side I can totally understand that users will want to see big companies like Google, Adobe etc providing them with solutions to the products they are searching about BUT no company should have the opportunity to create infinite branches and get awesome ranks because of who they are.

Aaron, do you believe that users are expecting to see search results from recognised brands or do you think they would enter more specific search queries for this requirement?

July 29, 2008 - 1:48pm

In the paid ads I think users prefer ads that are either from well known brands or ads that are from really niche shops that fit their needs.

The organic results tend to have an informational bias, and a lot of the best sources of information are not large brands, but often individually owned niche sites (in the broad scale SEO Book is not a big brand, just one that is well known in a small niche). I don't think people care where the information comes from so long as they find the information that helps them solve their questions.

July 29, 2008 - 1:21pm

@richpearson - certainly sounds like something worth considering - feel free to find me at InternetBusiness.co.uk.

@Matt - thanks for the comments. I sincerely appreciate Google's attempts to ensure their decisions are fair - I'll look at options to streamline my own work process for future DMCA violations and see if that helps.

Not sure it's also of interest to you, but are you aware that some advertisers are using Adwords to libel other companies? The only way to fight this is seems to be to take Google to the UK High Court, pay major court fees, and even Google's own legal fees, just to even identify who the libellous advertiser is. Not good when on the receiving end, not good for Google's reputation, but very good for nasty cowards hiding behind the skirts of a billion-dollar corporation. 2c.

July 29, 2008 - 6:21pm

I think that if you create a subdomain off of any PageRank 10 domain, it's results are going to rank highly. I just don't see the conspiracy her.

Then if the conspiracy theory does not work from your standpoint, perhaps for you it will be ok that spammers use Google groups (subdomains and directories) to spam Google rankings in their own benefit?

Likewise, using Google’s leverage through Knol to corner the heart of the www with information only they consider *appropriate* is pretty blind sided IMO. Are we talking about a new form of web socialism or communism with a twisted ingredient named financial capability and acquisition power?

Perhaps I am too naive to believe that communism has disappeared from the face of earth.

I would love to hear Matt’s take on this issue that seems pretty unbalanced and goes against democratic principles on the web. Yes, I read Matt's comment about their crawl/indexing system taking some time to figure out Knol's new positioning, but for how long?

July 29, 2008 - 7:47pm

Yes, I read Matt's comment about their crawl/indexing system taking some time to figure out Knol's new positioning, but for how long?

What is weird about ranking them right away is that I thought that when search engines were in doubt they typically took a wait and see approach rather than ranking them right away and then checking the consumer response (after all, that is why SEOs talk about the "Google Sandbox" phenomena).

July 29, 2008 - 10:42pm

I noticed that Yahoo was ranking knols highly for several days as soon as Knol launches. It looked like around Sunday night Yahoo (or Yahoo's crawl system) must have changed because I didn't see knols ranking in Yahoo as highly after that.

July 30, 2008 - 1:11am
July 30, 2008 - 2:51am

Amazing that the site is a week old and they are already indexing search results on it. Given that they host the content you wouldn't think that they would need to do that.

July 30, 2008 - 3:13pm

The Google Knol I created on the 24th of July entitled 'How to Read the Russian Alphabet in 75 Minutes' was already appearing on Page 1 of a Google Search for "read russian" with 12,300,000 results following.

I have updated the title within Knol from the one showing in the Google index, but that's still a pretty rapid ranking. I also created a derivative Knol, which was based on content that appears inside a PDF on one of my sites that is open to Google, and it correctly flagged it up as '75% similar', but for some reason, the Knol is not showing in search at all - even within Knol.

The gaming and black hat will of course be well underway, and I've alsready laughed at an info-product which is a "New Insider's Report on making a profit with the Knol™ Project that most Succesful Internet Marketers DON'T want you to see... offering to divulge such secrets as "How to Get other people writing for your gain - The Industry secret that allows you to Take all the credit for somebody elses work and still get paid time and time again!" Yadda yadda first 100 at special price of only...

The fact that one has to have an author for content I think will be the key to credibility and to limiting splogging. Qyuite how that mechanism will work, only time will tell, but I think Google can be more clever about "verifying" people's identity using its own systems like Google Checkout, Adsense, or openID.

It's going to be interesting, and I think Google has to be careful in several respects. One gap I think they need to fill is to create a community for Knol authors. I see that as a big FAIL not having simple mechanism in place for that - it could even rejuvenate Orkut.

July 30, 2008 - 7:28pm

Months back I bought KnolGenerator.com just to prevent those cheesy dudes from being able to get it. :)

July 30, 2008 - 4:15pm

I really like those Knols and think they are great for people who are new to the web and don't know a lot about web publishing in general. But why would we want to give them such a powerful tool that gives them an advantage right away?
And why do we need yet another platform for people to spend more time rewriting the same material rather than having everything in one place and focus on quality.
Either the Knol team creates something that turns Knols into a social network superior over the others, or I do forsee this becoming yet another blogspot type of tool decreasing the quality of the overall search results.

Mike Dammann

July 31, 2008 - 2:27am

even Google feels the economy's bite !!!

GOOG vs YHOO vs MSFT -> http://blog.4rev.net/2008-07/goog-vs-yhoo-vs-msft/

no more fun for GOOG now !

July 31, 2008 - 4:07am

"pretty unbalanced and goes against democratic principles on the web"

LOL. I guess that is naïve premise that this argument is being based on.

It's like saying that McDonalds is going to start serving healthy food since it would be better for the overall well being of America.

Google is a business. Their SOLE responsibility is to make money for their shareholders. That and that alone is why they (and every other public company) exist. It is completely within their mandate to favor themselves in any manner.

I wouldn't confuse them with some pseudo government organization that is supposed to operate by doing what would be in the best interest of the public.

July 31, 2008 - 4:45am

DigitalBiographer, if you add quotes to ["read russian"] I only see 123,000 results for that query, so it doesn't surprise me that much that you can rank at #9 with a knol. I believe that you also ranked on the first page of Yahoo very quickly, until Yahoo adjusted it's rankings for knol on Sunday night.

byrev, the query [site:knol.google.com/search] doesn't return any knol search results, but thanks for pointing out that deeper url. I'll pass that feedback on.

July 31, 2008 - 5:17pm

Aaron, I had a few pages rank well for a couple days but now they are gone so I don't think this is going to the problem you suggest - worth watching though - I'm thinking Wikipedia pages are the ones that might suffer more.

August 2, 2008 - 9:36pm

Their SOLE responsibility is to make money for their shareholders.

Isn’t that what Milton Friedman wrote about 30+ years ago in the NY Times Magazine? Mind you this is 2008 and things have changed. What is more impressive is that you took it beyond Friedman’s philosophy by adding

It is completely within their mandate to favor themselves in any manner.

WOW! The new corporate doctrines talk about social and ethical responsibilities on top of the financial stewardship. Business Schools were the first ones to embrace these concepts right after the corporate scandals like Enron and other crocks.

Any public corporation is responsible to their constituencies, stakeholders, and is subject to laws and regulations. Laws are promoted by public representatives, who are ultimately elected by members of our society representing the interest of the people and adhering to principles of protection and servitude. If the laws are not upheld, any predator corporation will set up shop and start screwing people up following the old say “the end justifies the means.”

For good or bad, the laws and decision making are manipulated by personal/corporate interest and greed. We’ve seen that with the oil and gas industry and now with companies in the technology field.

Because of my background in the corporate and governmental sectors, I strongly believe that socially responsible businesses are the core of any economy and society. Moreover, I also give merit to non-for-profit organizations that contribute in many ways to the betterment of communities.

On those lines, I don’t believe Google is some lame corporation trying to make a quick buck online by manipulating their audience with pseudo effective internet marketing methods like other smaller companies do. Google has done great things, no doubt! But if they are aspiring to “organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful,” then they should also be ready to be held to higher standards just like judges or congressmen are held in the US Justice and Legislative Systems.

This is even more important if Google pretends to police and oversee the morals and behavior of the web. Even Matt has been very outspoken about Lyndoman (Lyndon Antcliff) viral piece. Is there anything wrong with his perspective? Absolutely no. Perhaps other people don’t share that same opinion.

But what about users and shareholders in equation? Like probably some here, I am too a Google shareholder. So, I do have the right to voice my opinion and concerns like anybody else. I just don’t agree with the way they are handling some things, especially Knol’s SERP ranking.

From a web user standpoint, complains about Adsense scrapers using duplicate content that is not attributed to the source are well known. There are many other issues that are not addressed promptly by Google because is not in their best interest. Sadly, the ones who know about those exploits use them to benefit themselves. Would the same philosophy of

It is completely within their mandate to favor themselves in any manner

apply to those manipulating Google’s rankings?

Nice advocacy for entropy. Be my guest.

In the more than 40 years of Internet history, at least some core values need to be preserved. Democracy on the web should be one of them. Leaders like Google shall give the example by walking the talk!

Update:
I forgot to include a link to Bill Slawski's recent post about Social Responsibility and the Small Business that anyone should read.

August 8, 2008 - 5:40pm

If you think Google is about user experience and how that's related to "Quality of the Web"- think again.

Google's sole mission is to make MONEY.

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt had a seizure when MSN tried to create competition through the purchase of Yahoo.

Competition that would guarantee better a "user experience".

An example of Google's fake altruism is noted with this knol thread and another with YouTube SERP rankings.

How does a 20 second, affiliate marketing, power point presentation in a very blurry YouTube result in a quality user experience?

See past the mantra of Google.

The mega multi national corp is no different than Exxon or Mobile oil.

August 11, 2008 - 4:31pm

Google doesn't care one iota about who actually created the content. This is already quite telling based on how frequently Google WRONGLY ranks duplicates above originals in their search results. If that isn't enough, then check out this post from Nelson Minar, an engineer at Google.

Now, I understand his issues with the NBC / Olympic site, and I'll grant that he makes some valid points in his post about how unusable the NBC site is. It's not what he says that is important. It's how he says it. In the first two sentences of the second paragraph, he complains that NBC's copyrighted content is not available on YouTube, which is absurd.

There's a difference between organizing the world's information and channeling people to a duplicate site just because you don't like the presentation of the originator (or, as the case may be, you don't own it or it doesn't run AdSense ads).

If the presentation of a site is bad, people won't use it. The original site will have to change, or it will go out of business.

However, this doesn't give *anyone* the right to steal the content from the originator and post it somewhere else.

In Google, though, content is king, even if it is on a site that is trafficking in stolen goods. Until Google gets it right, protect your content.

August 12, 2008 - 1:51am

There's a difference between organizing the world's information and channeling people to a duplicate site just because you don't like the presentation of the originator (or, as the case may be, you don't own it or it doesn't run AdSense ads).

You and I get this, but how long will it take the mainstream media to get this?

However, this doesn't give *anyone* the right to steal the content from the originator and post it somewhere else.

And this is part of what makes Google's moral superiority strategy so absurd...they pay anyone to steal anything and then even after it is announced in a public way they chose to ignore it unless they think it costs them on the public relations front.

In Google, though, content is king, even if it is on a site that is trafficking in stolen goods. Until Google gets it right, protect your content.

Copyright holders get to spend lots of time and money protecting their business from Google, which strategically attempts to undermine copyright. Not a good way for Google to get on the good side of the people who spent the most money creating the best content.

August 22, 2008 - 3:58pm

Just wanted to say I followed your example and published an article on both Knol and Work.com, and I'm very happy I did.

http://knol.google.com/k/jaime-bonet/translation-service-solutions/3aetv...
http://www.work.com/language-translation-services-16002/

I also went ahead and gave you a couple of good ratings and comments on your own articles, not that you need them but still. ;)

Cheers,

Jaime

August 22, 2008 - 11:57pm

Thanks for the ratings and comments Jamie :)

November 25, 2008 - 7:49pm

I'm the VP of Marketing for WonderHowTo, a new but fast growing (2.5mm monthly uniques) startup in the how-to space.

While Google sends us much of our traffic, as we plan to go into the text how-to space in early '09 it's a little disconcerting that they're getting into the content business, and possibly tipping the scales in their favor.

Although I think a big part of the problem is that every tech blogger (and some regular bloggers too) will cover everything that Google does--sort of an idol worship(use nofollow people!) which would explain why knol has a homepage rank of 7 while most of it's content and sections have no page rank at all.

But overall, we can't fall into the trap of believing that Google runs the internet. Webmasters run the internet. If Google ever steps over the line webmasters will band together and choose a new search engine.

This seems unbelievable but remember when everyone got tired of IE (4 years ago or so?) and you couldn't go on a website without seeing a button urging you to download/use firefox?

November 25, 2008 - 8:08pm

If Google ever steps over the line webmasters will band together and choose a new search engine.

but most influential commercial sites are at least in part reliant on Google services. and most non-commercial sites have webmasters that use at least one Google service (ads, search, email, analytics, youtube, etc etc etc)

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