Yesterday, Google released a new quality raters guidelines PDF document that was specifically updated to tell the quality raters how to spot and flag offensive, upsetting, inaccurate and hateful web pages in the search results.
Paul Haahr, a lead search engineer at Google who celebrated his 15th year at the company, told us that Google has been working on algorithms to combat web pages that are offensive, upsetting, inaccurate and hateful in their search results. He said it only impacts about 0.1% of the queries but it is an important problem.
With that, they want to make sure their algorithms are doing a good job. So that is why they have updated their quality raters guidelines so that they can test to make sure the search results reflect their algorithms. If they don't that data goes back to the engineers where they can tweak things or make new algorithms or machine learning techniques to weed out even more of the content Google doesn't want in their search results.
Paul Haahr explained that there are times where people specifically want to find hateful or inaccurate information. Maybe on the inaccurate side, they like satire sites or maybe on the hate side, they hate people. Google should not prevent people from finding content that they want, Paul said. And the quality raters guidelines explains with key examples on how raters should rate such pages.
But overall, ever since the elections, Google, Facebook and others have been under fire to do something about facts and hate and more. They released fact checking schema for news stories. They supposedly banned AdSense publishers. They removed certain classes of hate and inaccurate results from the search results. And they tweaked the top stories algorithm to show more accurate and authoritative results.
Google has been working on this and they want to continue working on this. The quality raters will help make sure what the engineers are doing, does translate into proper search results. At the same time, as you all mostly know, quality raters have no power to remove search results or adjust rankings, they just rate the search results and that data goes back to the Google engineers to use.
Both Danny Sullivan dug into this and Jennifer Slegg dug into the quality raters guidelines changes. So go to those two sites to read the summaries on how Google defines them, overall it is pretty fascinating because it is not an easy solution or easy judgement calls - so Google has to define them pretty precisely.
It is an important problem, but with only 0.1% of queries impacted, seems like a lot of effort is being put on this.
Download the updated raters guidelines over here..
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.