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Old 02-01-2011, 06:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

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Officials from Microsoft and Google sparred at an event on Tuesday over Google's accusation that Microsoft copies Google search results and feeds them into its Bing search engine.

The issue was first reported on Tuesday morning by the Search Engine Land technology news blog, whose editor Danny Sullivan was personally briefed by Google on the issue in recent days.

According to Sullivan's article, Google became suspicious that Microsoft could be copying its top search results for certain queries several months ago and recently ran a "sting" operation to find out if this was in fact happening.

Google hand-coded arbitrary search results for a series of nonsensical query terms, and later discovered that when entered on Bing, these query terms yielded those same results. Google believes that the query and results data is captured via features in the Internet Explorer browser and the Bing browser toolbar.

Later on Tuesday, at the event "Farsight 2011: Beyond the Search Box," sponsored by Big Think and Microsoft, Google search software engineer Matt Cutts opened a panel discussion by outlining the accusation and invited comments from fellow panelist Harry Shum, a Microsoft vice president.

"It's not like we actually copy anything. It's really about what we learn from the customers, who opt in to willingly share the data with us," said Shum, who leads Microsoft's search development efforts.

Cutts and Shum then got into a back and forth with Cutts pressing the issue and Shum rejecting the allegation.

Asked for an official comment by IDG News Service, a Google spokesman sent a statement authored by Google fellow Amit Singhal that states categorically: "Our testing has concluded that Bing is copying Google Web search results."

Google welcomes competition on the basis of improved search algorithms and innovation but "not on recycled search results copied from a competitor," Singhal said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Microsoft provided a statement from Bing Director Stefan Weitz in which he downplays the Google accusation.

"We do not copy Google's search results. We use multiple signals and approaches in ranking search results. The overarching goal is to do a better job determining the intent of the search so we can provide the most relevant answer to a given query. Opt-in programs like the toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites."

In a Microsoft blog, Shum called Google's accusation "a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking" that doesn't accurately portray how Microsoft uses "opt-in customer data" to fine-tune its search experience.

It's not clear what, if anything, Google plans to do next, such as possibly escalating the matter if it deems it illegal.

What Google clearly accomplished was to insert a loud controversy into the Microsoft-sponsored event that reflects badly on Bing, certainly not the result Microsoft sought when it decided to sponsor the event.

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Old 02-01-2011, 11:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

My thoughts after reading this is difficult to explain in words.

First i wonder why Google is so up in arms about it. Both Search Engines operate on spiders. If Google doesnt want it results copied, then why doesnt it block Bing, Yahoo, Ask and the other search engines from accessing its site? I mean Microsoft clearly does it with Google spiders on their sites.

Next I wonder why they have to go out of their way to spoil an event like this. I mean did they really have to send one of their people to this even to open this discussion up and have it derail what the event was truly supposed to be about? That just seems very low and under handed to want to do something like that. Not only did they hurt Bing and Microsoft with this discussion but they hurt Big Think the other sponsor.

Now before you response saying that I am taking the side of Microsoft yet again, that is not what I am saying. I dont condone the actions taken by Microsoft, if they did or didnt steal the results. That is not my place to judge that aspect. My thoughts are simply on the aspect that Google went out of their way to ruin this event by doing what they did. If Microsoft or Apple did such a thing to a Google sponsored event the world would be up in arms. That is all i am saying.

Search engines and how they operate are not a new thing. Since visual search is starting to come along it will be hard for either engine to not have the same results when visual searches are the norm as there isnt going to be that many different ways to search for an image.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

You said it, Mak. Can't Google just ban Bing from piggybacking?
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

So Microsoft is the one caught stealing and Google is the one you're set against here? I'm sorry but I completely disagree.

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If Google doesnt want it results copied, then why doesnt it block Bing, Yahoo, Ask and the other search engines from accessing its site?
How about "Why doesn't Microsoft do their own **** work instead of stealing the work from someone else?"
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Old 02-02-2011, 12:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

In that case why doesnt Google? The same argument your making can be said of both parties involved. Google went out of their way to provide this false data to catch Microsoft. They only went after Microsoft. How much do you want to bet that Ask, Lycos or any other search engine like the many Google clones out there would have also had the same results. Yet Google only lashed out at Microsoft at an event they co-sponsored.

Microsoft does do its own work. They have their spiders out there just like Google does. Microsoft has tools in place to help provide them with information that helps them know and understand what people are searching for to help make their search engine better. They mention the Bing Toolbar which offers you the option to send feedback. Which is then used to improve their search engine. But that is getting away from my point.

If you read my post you would see that i clearly state that my disdain is for the action they took. Sending someone to this event to discredit Microsoft openly. They could have just done what they always do and had a Blog posting or send out statements to news sites like they have in the past. But for some reason they felt it necessary to send someone to an event to do this. Which only proves my whole point in my post where people turn a blind eye to what Google does and only bash Microsoft for what they do. You completely missed the whole point of my post and only took out of it what you wanted. Instead of trying to understand my whole point you just took 1 sentence out of my whole reply and took it as me being upset with Google for being mad that they caught Microsoft stealing. That is NOT the point i was making.

Again if you read my post, more specifically my closing remarks you would see that such actions are only going to get worse. With Visual Search coming on strong how many different results can you get for a image search? If i used an image of the Earth and did a visual search on both Bing and Google how many different results would there be? How many could there be? I bet one of the first results would be either Wikipedia or NASA. Does that mean that Bing stole those results too? Of course not. It is an image and there is only so many results you could have. If i used your signature from this site and searched on both engines, how many different results would i get? I bet both would lead me here. Does that mean that one stole from the other? No. Cause it is a very specific image that was searched for and only 1 possible result. Or more depending on if you use that image on other sites.

The point is this. There can only be so many results. Yes Microsoft was caught. I already said i dont condone the fact that they did it. It isnt right. But to go out of your way to send someone to an event to openly cause a distraction and derail the event from its purpose is not right. It is a low class move. You only prove my point that people think Google can do no wrong and that Microsoft can do no right. I am upset with Google for their actions in this matter. They did not have to cause a distraction at a public event like this that wasnt even fully sponsored by Microsoft. They also hurt Big Think with this action as well as it looks poorly on that company for being involved with this event and its actions. But that aspect is clearly over looked and not taken into account. Who cares that they hurt the other sponsor and made them look bad at an event they co-sponsored with Microsoft right?

Am i upset with Microsoft, yes. They should not have stolen the results. But the fact is simple. It isnt the first time a search result was stolen and it wont be the last. Google isnt as innocent in such actions either. They have been accused of such actions themselves. But that is just brushed away and nothing was ever said or mentioned about such things. Only now that Microsoft is involved is everyone up in arms about it. Google was doing it 4 years ago according to that news article. But hey its alright for them to do it and not Microsoft right?

I am upset with both parties. If you read my post, you will see that i mention it in both my posts now. But clearly that isnt good enough. Nothing i ever say will be good enough cause every one thinks that just cause I am an MVP for Microsoft that i approve of all their actions. Wrong. I am still myself and i think for myself despite my connections to the company. This isnt the first time i have tried to say this nor will it be the last. But alas it means nothing.
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Old 02-02-2011, 12:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

You missed my point too, which was about what you posted. Yes, you said you don't condone what microsoft did. But the main points in your post were about google and how they chose to reveal this information and how they've done this too in the past. ONE line in your entire post was about microsoft, which was to say you didn't condone their actions (and in the same breath also saying you doubted that they actually HAD stolen anything). The rest was concentrated on berating google on how they chose to reveal that Microsoft was stealing.

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But hey its alright for them to do it and not Microsoft right?
I never said it was alright that Google did stuff like that. That Myspace thing wasn't just 'brushed away' either. And look at more recent events, specifically the wireless fiasco with Google. Did THAT just get 'brushed away' too? No. Point is, google has had to cop their share of bad media. But hey its alright for them to cop it and not Microsoft right?
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

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Perhaps part of Bing's "improvement" is due to Google's optimizations

If you take Bing out for a spin, you might come away impressed. It returns surprisingly good results. At Google, this trend is certainly a concern as the company doesn't want to lose its search lead -- and the money that comes with it.

Google keeps a close eye on Bing to see how good a product its competitor is putting together, so that it can stay a step ahead. And that monitoring recently offered up a humorous and perhaps legally damaging revelation about Microsoft -- it has been ripping off Google's search results to improve Bing.

The trend was first noticed when a Googler spotted Bing correctly displaying a result for torsorophy -- a misspelling of tarsorrhaphy, a rare surgical procedure on eyelids. But the Microsoft result didn't show the correct spelling, so the Google engineer was puzzled -- how did it get the result?

Google engineer Amit Singhal blogs:

This example opened our eyes, and over the next few months we noticed that URLs from Google search results would later appear in Bing with increasing frequency for all kinds of queries: popular queries, rare or unusual queries and misspelled queries. Even search results that we would consider mistakes of our algorithms started showing up on Bing.

We couldn’t shake the feeling that something was going on, and our suspicions became much stronger in late October 2010 when we noticed a significant increase in how often Google’s top search result appeared at the top of Bing’s ranking for a variety of queries. This statistical pattern was too striking to ignore. To test our hypothesis, we needed an experiment to determine whether Microsoft was really using Google’s search results in Bing’s ranking.


To get to the bottom of this strange pattern, Google invented a series of 100 or so synthetic queries. The queries were seemingly random strings, which when searched for would return a specific website. That site did not contain the selected string or any URLs that contained it -- thus there should be no way Bing would associate it with the selected site.

But lo and behold, when you search for one of the terms -- hiybbprqag -- on Bing it shows the same synthetic result as Google's search. Several other longer synthetic queries also returned exact matches on Bing. That means only one thing -- Bing was copying Google's results.

Writes Mr. Singhal:

As we see it, this experiment confirms our suspicion that Bing is using some combination of:

o Internet Explorer 8, which can send data to Microsoft via its Suggested Sites feature
o the Bing Toolbar, which can send data via Microsoft’s Customer Experience Improvement Program

or possibly some other means to send data to Bing on what people search for on Google and the Google search results they click. Those results from Google are then more likely to show up on Bing. Put another way, some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation.


And he adds, "And to those who have asked what we want out of all this, the answer is simple: we'd like for this practice to stop."

Microsoft has not yet complied, leaving open the possibility that it may face litigation from Google.

We have contacted Microsoft for comment.

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Old 02-05-2011, 10:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

New development

Google's Copying Accusation Called 'Silly'
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Even if Microsoft did copy Google's search results the practice couldn't be scaled enough to mimic Google's algorithms in any widespread and meaningful way, search industry analysts and executives said.

It would also be impossible for Microsoft to use the copied results as a basis for reverse-engineering Google's secret search algorithms, those people said. Plus, ultimately, Microsoft probably isn't interested in having a search engine that acts exactly like Google's anyway, they said.

"This whole thing is a little silly," said Gord Hotchkiss, senior vice president at digital marketing provider Mediative.

This week, Google loudly published the findings of an internal investigation that it said proved that Microsoft, using its Internet Explorer browser and Bing toolbar, collected data about its users' Google search queries and the results they produced.

Google characterized the practice as cheating. Microsoft responded that end users allow it to collect that data, and that the information it collects is one of more than a thousand other "signals" it uses to refine its search results.

The vociferous debate has played out since Tuesday in the media, on stage at a Microsoft-sponsored search event and through multiple posts on Google and Microsoft blogs.

Google said it doesn't plan any legal steps against Microsoft but called for the practice to stop. Microsoft says Google had exaggerated the gravity of the issue by basing its investigation on artificial and nonsensical queries.

As the dust settles and observers weigh the companies' positions, Microsoft may have come out ahead. Industry analysts and executives apparently are having a hard time sympathizing with Google's grievance, which they view at best as minor.

Charlene Li, founder of technology research and advisory firm Altimeter Group, saw Google's actions as a misguided response to a real threat from a competitor in its core search business.

"Google isn't used to having competition. You look at this incident and you wonder why they are doing this. It feels amateurish in a way, a kind of 'they're not playing fair' attitude," she said.

"Instead of making your competition look bad, something like this makes you look petty," she said. "This doesn't reflect well on Google. I would think they would be above this."

Hotchkiss, who attended the Microsoft event, called "Farsight 2011: Beyond the Search Box," on Tuesday, cringed when Google officials made the copying accusation an issue on and off stage.

"I felt that was inappropriate. It wasn't aligned to the topic of the summit. It was irrelevant to what the content should have been. It seemed to have been done only to stir controversy," said Hotchkiss, a search marketing executive whose company Enquiro was acquired last year by Canada Yellow Pages Group and folded into Mediative.

Google has a right to cry foul if it thinks Microsoft is doing something unfair or inappropriate, but the intensity of the complaint has been disproportionate to the offense, those interviewed said.

"It seems like making a big deal out of something that isn't that big a deal. This isn't the secret sauce of Google's algorithm, it's a minor signal," Hotchkiss said. "It doesn't amount to anything important."

The practice documented by Google, in which Bing produced the same results as Google for nonsensical query terms that Google planted in its search engine, would occur in the real world only for uncommon terms that draw very little traffic and are "on the fringes of the index," he said.

Google's denunciation of Microsoft as a kind of search plagiarist also left IDC analyst Al Hilwa scratching his head.

"Producing desirable search results is one piece of the search puzzle. The key to systematically having good results is how effective is the crawling and indexing at the back end, and that is something not possible to mimic with browsers," he said via e-mail.

"I find the discussion around collecting data from browsers a little comical because Google itself has been accused of collecting too much usage data from Chrome users, which it claims it uses to optimize," Hilwa added.

Kevin Lee, CEO of the search marketing firm Didit and a board director of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), also doesn't understand the intensity of Google's outrage.

"I can't imagine that Larry and Sergey didn't look at AltaVista and Excite back in the early days in an attempt to learn what people liked, disliked and what improvements could be made," he said, referring to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who created Google at a time when AltaVista and Excite were leading search engines.

"Seems like a lot of hoopla about nothing. It's not like having stolen source code," Lee added via e-mail.

Bruce Clay, president of the search marketing and optimization firm that bears his name, sees nothing wrong with what Microsoft is doing. "Sniffing Web traffic is not uncommon in the analysis space, and watching user behavior is smart business," he said via e-mail.

"This is not like Bing has stolen an algorithm. It is more like seeing a line at a competitor store and going in to see what is going on -- you are not stealing secrets, just paying attention," added Clay, also a SEMPO board director.

Plus, Microsoft is smart enough to know that to compete better in search it needs to innovate, not replicate what Google is doing, which to an extent is still based on the original Page Rank algorithm it developed more than 10 years ago, said Hotchkiss, a past SEMPO chairman who now sits on its board of advisers.

"It would be like Ford trying to win the automotive wars by copying a 1998 Honda," he said.

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Old 02-05-2011, 03:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

OMG this is ace.

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Originally Posted by Mak213 View Post
Am i upset with Microsoft, yes. They should not have stolen the results. But the fact is simple. It isnt the first time a search result was stolen and it wont be the last. Google isnt as innocent in such actions either. They have been accused of such actions themselves. But that is just brushed away and nothing was ever said or mentioned about such things. Only now that Microsoft is involved is everyone up in arms about it. Google was doing it 4 years ago according to that news article. But hey its alright for them to do it and not Microsoft right?
Did you read that article? It is about MySpace News stealing other people's content (articles, blog posts, etc).

That PCW article is a load of breathless nonsense designed to deflect legitimate concerns that might be embarrassing to Microsoft. For example:

Quote:
It would also be impossible for Microsoft to use the copied results as a basis for reverse-engineering Google's secret search algorithms, those people said. Plus, ultimately, Microsoft probably isn't interested in having a search engine that acts exactly like Google's anyway, they said.
Who said anything about reverse-engineering Google's algorithm? If Microsoft doesn't want a search service that acts exactly like Google's, then copying Google's results is a pretty strange thing to do.

or this:

Quote:
"Google isn't used to having competition. You look at this incident and you wonder why they are doing this. It feels amateurish in a way, a kind of 'they're not playing fair' attitude," she said.
How about this as a fix?
"Microsoft isn't used to having competition. You look at this incident and you wonder why they are doing this. It feels amateurish in a way... they're not playing fair" she said.

Whatever.
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:31 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Google accuses Microsoft of copying search results

Someone needs to chill. And no, it's not you Mak...
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