Google: When Search Results Suck, It's Because We're Stupid

Mar 23, 2012 - 8:44 am 38 by
Filed Under Google

Google Stupid vs Money - Stupid Is as Stupid DoesRyan Moulton, a Google software engineer working on search since 2006, is extremely active on HackerNews. He recently responded on HackerNews to a story named Paul Graham, the Commons, and How Google Stopped Being Google where they wrote:

They tweek results based on the amount of revenue they are likely to bring in.

Ryan Moulton's response was filled with emotion and hurt when he said "this is entirely false," adding "I wish misinformed people would stop parroting it." Ryan explains, what Googlers have explained time and time again, that there is an "extremely rigid firewall" between the free organic search results and the ad side. He adds that those involved in "search don't even see metrics on how their changes effect ads, let alone make decisions based on them."

Ryan then explains that when search results "suck" it has nothing to do with "perversely smart at funneling you into money making opportunities." But rather it has to do with Google's "system is too stupid" to get the right result.

He is hurt and I believe him when he writes this. Ryan then goes on to add:

Look, I've worked in search at Google for over 5 years. I know all of the signals that determine how results are ranked and most of the details about how they are used. I know all of the metrics that are used to evaluate and tune ranking. I know nearly everyone who works in ranking, and I've seen a decent fraction of the launch decisions and the metrics supporting them. I'm telling you, with no caveats, that we don't make ranking decisions based on statistics related to revenue. If that doesn't convince you, then I don't know what would.

He knows "all of the signals" - wow, I didn't know one person knew them all. But the bigger side of this story is that Google really doesn't seem to let money influence their organic search results.

I work with engineers daily and reading this seems like he is an engineer fed up with allegations from people who simply do not have the facts.

Forum discussion at HackerNews.


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