There are two ways to look at a thread at WebmasterWorld where an official MSN representative asks;
One complaint I hear a lot in this forum is that MSN Search fails to identify "quality" sites or "authority" sites. I'd actually be interested in hearing your collective idea of what these terms mean. It's hard for me to respond intelligently to this type of concern if I'm not sure we mean the same thing by the words.
(1) Wow, MSN is asking laymen about what quality and authority sites are? MSN is so far behind the eight ball. :) or (2) Wow, MSN is bold enough to ask Webmasters how they would define quality and authority. They are seriously interested in improving the search experience!
But as a Webmaster, you should be looking at this thread for hints on the future of the search algorithm at MSN.
Point 1: MSN is claiming by the title of the thread, i.e. "Quality and Authority: Relevance Alone Is Not Enough," that relevancy is currently not a factor of site quality or the authoritative status of a site. Interesting.
Point 2: quote; "So then could a single query have more than one authority site? If so, how do you distinguish authority from quality?" Is there only one answer to a query? Is there only one authority? I doubt MSN can think this way? But imagine if they could...
Point 3: quote; "Perhaps we need an independent category "authoritative but useless."" Governmental sites that have little information, or well known organizations that don't have content or content is not useable.
Point 4: quote; "I've been thinking of both quality and authority as a property of results, not just a property of a site." Quality tied to the query or just tied to the site? Authority tied to the query or just tied to the site?
Point 5: quote; ""Authority" in this sense implies (to me) that a site already has a reputation with a significant fraction of users. The actual page, though, might be so recondite as to be useless to any but the most expert user. Given that definition of Authority, it would seem that Quality would be about accuracy and completeness of the result. A quality result would be complete, accurate, and useful to an average user -- even if most users had never heard of the site before." Summarizing how he perceives Webmaster's thoughts on those terms.
The thread is incredibly interesting and worth a watch in my opinion.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.