Search Engines Find a Way to Gauge and Confirm Trust

Jan 27, 2006 - 3:42 pm 1 by

It started with an interview I found on "Trustmarks", in which Paul Walsh, the co-founder and CEO of Segala M Test, was talking about a way to enhance personalized search by including a trust rating.

Perhaps you've heard of ICRA (Internet Content Rating Association) descriptors for child protection. I've had this code on one of my sites for years, since I wanted parents to trust it. (And being one, I care about that sort of thing.) Walsh was interviewed about the Segala trustmark scheme and their working with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Segala is a founding sponsor of the Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) responsible for creating best practices and guidelines for the future Web on small screens such as PDAs and mobile phones. Paul Walsh is also a committee member of the Web Accessibility Initiative.

I was very curious about how search engines, or if search engines, would implement "Trustmarks". We started a thread at Cre8asiteforums about it, featuring the interview, and several members were most interested. Some wondered how this trust is tracked. What would stop anyone from being registered, getting a trustmark and then changing their content?

Paul Walsh dropped by when the thread first began to tell us more. From the interview:

"Do you think that the search engines will start actively looking for trustmarks? Might this impact on search results, rendering trustmarks obligatory? "

Paul's response:

"They will actively look for trustmarks. As I said earlier, browsers are falling over themselves to be the first to support content rating and quality labelling.

We’re also meeting with the leading search engines in the US this week. "

And there was this from the interview, that might rev up your engine:
"With help from Glaxstar, Segala is due to launch its own branded Firefox browser that will allow users to base search results on trust. This browser will blow your mind!

That was in November 2005. Today, Mr. Walsh returned to Cre8asiteforums with not only more news, but long responses to questions on the topic.

He writes:

"Since writing my last post, the co-editors of the W3C Mobile Web Initiative’s trustmark; (mobileOK) conformance specification have been chosen – Segala, ICRA and --> Google. ‘The’ mobileOK Trustmark will be the RDF-Content Label, visual logos will be secondary."
This is but a hint of the meat in that thread. Search engines are jumping into the pool.

What if...what if, Google and Yahoo! toss in a trust algorithm based on, well, real trustworthy content that's Verifiable??

Paul discusses the use of adding more meta data in addition to title and description, in an effort to "provide end users with trust by way of annotation or filtering". It can be used to understand accessbility too. For example, Paul suggests:

"So, if the only best practice technique currently implemented on a site is text resizing, then why not make that claim so people who require this feature, can specify the requirement in search preferences.
Paul informed me that he will be interviewed again by E-Consultancy with updated information. He hopes they'll have more news in February.


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