Google's Childish Response To Microsoft Using Google To Increase Bing Relevance

from the get-over-it dept

It’s inevitable as a company gets bigger and older that rather than just competing in the market, it starts attacking competitors and accusing them of doing something “wrong.” It’s too bad that Google appears to have reached this stage. There have been plenty of stories lately about Google’s decreasing relevance and how its search results have been getting worse. There are plenty of ways to respond to this and improving search quality should be the main focus. But it looks like Google has, instead, decided to call out competitors. Specifically, Google set up an elaborate and pointless “sting operation,” which appears to show that Microsoft uses Google results as a part of its overall relevance algorithm. Basically, it looks like for users who have the Bing toolbar installed, Microsoft aggregates some search information, perhaps including Google results, and weighs them (only partially) into its own algorithm.

This seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Google’s search results are public and as an established player in the market, almost every comparison of alternative search engines, including Bing, compares it to Google. So, making use of Google data to improve its own rankings seems like a rather smart move.

Remember, too, that Google’s own search algorithm is based on viewing what people are doing online and coming up with a ranking based on that. How is that any different than Microsoft viewing a variety of information online — including Google’s own search rankings — and using that as the basis of its own rankings? But instead of recognizing that this is all perfectly reasonable, Google starts acting like the RIAA, accusing Microsoft of “cheating” and doing something that is potentially illegal. It even pops out this line from Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow who apparently oversees Google’s search ranking algorithm.

“I’ve got no problem with a competitor developing an innovative algorithm. But copying is not innovation, in my book.”

As if Google hasn’t copied the work of others in the past? The very basis for the original Page Rank was “copied” from Jon Kleinberg’s research and then built upon that work. It was not a direct copy, just as Microsoft’s search results are not a direct copy. For Google to attack a competitor for using open information on the web — the same way it does — seems like the height of hypocrisy. It’s fine for Google to crawl and index whatever sites it wants in order to set up its ranking algorithms, but the second someone looks at Google’s own rankings as part of their own determination, suddenly its “cheating”?

This seems like the latest in a series of indications that Google has moved past the innovation stage into the “protecting its turf” stage. That would be a shame.

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Companies: google, microsoft

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Comments on “Google's Childish Response To Microsoft Using Google To Increase Bing Relevance”

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175 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Oh Come on..

Yes, Google based pagerank on existing research – how is that the same as what’s going on here? What Google is doing is pointing out that MS is copying their results, not their implementation. (And so that’s “childish”?!?!)

Mike, you keep saying that execution is more important than idea – and you’re right. So why do you conflate the two here?

Mark says:

Oh Come on..

Microsoft/Bing is not copying the Google results. They are using that are using the information of the Google results as one piece of information in their results.

Since you were too lazy to read the article, I will make it easy.

“By no means did Bing have exactly the same search results as Google. There were plenty of queries where the listings had major differences.”

Google set up a way to test their hypothesis. They used search terms no one would ever actually use and forced the results to return a nonsensical page. After the engineers used Google to search for those and clicked on the first link with nonsensical page (all with the Bing toolbar installed), only 9 out of 100 search terms returned the page that google set up for that term.

This shows that Bing is not copying the Google results. they are just taking the Google Result and using it as 1 of many criteria used to return search results.

Mike says:

Just Curious:

Why is it that whenever a company complains about the appropriation of the fruits of their labour, you find it necessary to reduce said company to predator status? The fact of the matter is that Google has certainly been taking steps to improve their search engine.

Please explain why Google should be anything other than bothered by the fact that another search engine is using their results in an effort to compete with them. Also, why Google should try and be more “innovative”, knowing that Bing is likely to continue to use the results obtained through whatever innovative means employed.

Xerox (I like to copy) says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

Isn’t this like taking a test and you just copy someone’s answer?

The answers you do know, you give you own answer (which might be wrong), but the ones you don’t, you copy from somebody who is smarter, in this case has a better algorithm.

Microsoft just got caught copying someone else’s answer when displaying to others.

In school/college, copying answers meant you got a zero or kicked from that class, not the student saying to the teacher or instructor… “get over it.”

Richard says:

Oh Come on..

> Since you were too lazy to read the article, I will make it easy.

Easy != correct.

They injected search results which were only available through Google.

Thus, the results were copied to MS via the toolbar and/or the search box. Not all of them, granted. Most likely, there is some sort of ranking that Bing applies.

Still, the fact of the matter is that Bing took Google’s results and either copied them and/or used them to seed their search index.

If that’s OK or not, dunno.
If it’s an overreaction to call out Bing on this, dunno.
If it’s an overreaction to call out Google on calling out Bing, dunno.

But please get your facts straight before posting.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Just Curious:

Bing, like Google or any modern search engine, aggregates public data in order to gain better insight into how people browse and search the web. This includes websites, directories, social media sites, news sources – the list goes on and on.

All Bing is doing is aggregating Google search results along with all that public data. The purpose of the Bing toolbar is to help them understand user behaviour: it records what users do and how they find things online, so that Bing can use that information to improve its search tools. So if users of the Bing toolbar conduct google searches and click the results, why shouldn’t Microsoft include that data in their analysis of web usage?

Mark says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

This would only be true if Bing was copying the results from Google. They are not. They are using the Google result as one piece of information.

A more apt analogy would be more like studying with the person and using their notes. Yes, you came up with a similar answer, that was right, but came to it from different approaches, and the different approaches left plenty of differences in the actual answer.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

It’s not the same. Bing isn’t just taking your search query, putting it through google and spitting the results back at you. That’s not the case here at all.

Bing is examining the searches people conduct on Google, the results it returns, and the links they choose to click – then feeding all that aggregated data into their own algorithm that produces their own results. It’s no different from Google (for example) indexing public directories like Yelp and the Yellow Pages, and analyzing their usage patterns to help return better results on business-related searches.

atroon says:

There's a difference though...

The main reason Google is upset is that Microsoft is using tools built into their monopoly operating system to gather that data by its users. I admit, it’s a sheer stroke of genius on someone’s part…until you get caught.

At that point Microsoft and Google devolve into squabbling 5th graders about who copied who on what test.

Mike’s right…innovate or get out of the way. But if Microsoft is going to not only have but actively use a monopoly power in operating systems (even if not in browsers) to crush competition, they leave themselves open to a lot of bad user sentiment.

Tapper (profile) says:

I disagree

I disagree with your conclusion on this matter. I think Google makes a good point & I agree with them.

If the Bing bar is there to help make your search results more like Google’s, then why do I ever need Bing?

I’ll stick with Google.

PS I read the article & saw the screen caps. I understand what MS did & they incorporated a level of Google results into Bing.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re:

Don’t think google is getting worse per say, more case that the SEO’s have finally nailed down the algorithm’s google is using, to game the system.

The tech crunch article is crap as that seems more it was written by someone who’s “google-fu” is weak (and wants to an promote an alternative search engine..that after a quick test drive does not seem very good at relavancy at all)

The coding horror article though is a lot better and those of us that do look up lots of tech questions will know exactly what he is talking about, as it is something we will have noticed over the last 6-8 months or so (and it is that recent that things got bad). But don’t see how google could fix it from their end without starting to censor the net, something i would hate to see.

But what i would like to see is an option from them where we, the users, could block the scraper sites mentioned in the article, something like an icon that says “never show me results from this site again” for those of us that are actually logged in to google.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, so you can "own" search results too?

I really like it how people jump to the conclusion that Bing can’t use/build on googles results. It’s an affront and google should be protected from competition. Obviously Bing cost microsft no money/effort. Just copy/paste google results. Go back oustide and yell at kids to stay off your lawn.

cc (profile) says:

Mike, I disagree with you (at least for the moment).

As long as Google is merely pointing out that others are taking their search results and pretending they are their own, I can’t hold it against them. This is “social mores” at work, and in this situation I feel it’s the right thing to do.

HOWEVER, if they start suing everyone I will then agree with you that this is only about “protecting their turf”.

Mark Murphy (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

They’re not copying the results.

Yes, they are, in some cases. That was the point behind the “sting”.

They’re using user clickstream data as a piece of their own algorithm, just as Google uses link analysis as a part of their algorithm.

Correct. However, the “sting” demonstrates that Bing is perfectly willing to simply feed back Google search results, even in the absence of any other data.

Again, this was the point behind the “sting”. The pages that Bing reported in its search results could only have come from Google searches, since the pages did not exist anywhere else, were not linked to from anywhere else, etc. It’s not like Bing blended Google search results with umpteen other sources in these cases — they just reported the Google results.

Furthermore, it indicates that Bing ignores robots.txt, since Google search results are marked as “disallowed”. If Google wanted its search results to be indexed by other search engines, it would allow it via robots.txt.

In fact, this means that you’re being a bit two-faced on this issue. For other places (AFP comes to mind), your argument has been “use robots.txt if you don’t want to be indexed”. Here, we have a case where somebody is using robots.txt to avoid being indexed…yet your argument now is that robots.txt can be safely ignored by the indexer. Which is it?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

…except that I don’t see what about this opposes any social mores. It is perfectly sensible and I applaud Microsoft’s ingenuity. Search algorithms work by analyzing user behaviour online using any and all data that is available, then attempting to find patterns in that behaviour so you can direct users to the information they are most likely to click on. The (fully public) data on how people interact with the world’s most popular search engine is absolutely relevant. It would be foolish of Microsoft to ignore it.

If google HAD merely pointed it out, fine – but they didn’t. They called it cheating and not innovation. I find that to be an odd statement coming from the world’s largest data aggregator…

RobShaver (profile) says:

SkyNet ...

Perhaps Google can monitor the click-stream generated by Bing too. Perhaps the two tool bars might iterate the results to find the one true link.

Maybe the two tool bars might start making their own queries. Maybe the tool bars from Google, Bing and Wolfram Alpha will join together as a distributed SkyNet, become sentient and gives us a truly innovative search experience.

I can hardly wait for the movie.

Harry says:

Unless Google does something more, what's wrong with complaining?

Google has not sued at this point, and probably won’t since as you said, rankings are public. But, if I caught a competitor copying my technology, whether it’s illegal or not, what is so wrong about publicly calling the competitor out on it? At a minimum, you’re embarrassing the competitor and putting into question their product’s relevance.

Also, it’s a little ironic that you are calling out Google’s “decreasing relevance” in an article about one of their largest competitors copying their algorithm. Clearly Bing doesn’t think Google is relevance is decreasing. The fact is, there’s a lot of money to be made by gaming Google’s results, much more money than Google will ever make by having “perfect” results. They will forever be in a race with an army of black hats and reacting to the next SEO game. Content farms are just the latest example. In a year, we’ll be talking about another one.

GassyLittleElf (profile) says:

Childish? Not according to you awhile back

I’m baffled that this post is from the same person who wrote about and defended the use of social mores in cases like the Joe Rogan / Carlos Mencia kerfuffle. You yourself said that publicly calling out Carlos Mencia for copying other comedians jokes was a rational way to pressure him to stop copying by negatively affecting his professional reputation, therefore encouraging him to stop. Google didn’t sue, they simply called out Microsoft in a public way that negatively affects their professional reputation, therefore encouraging them to stop. Could you explain why you see these seemingly identical situations differently?

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re:

In Hephaestus defense, I had never heard any of that ether. But now that I do I can see it’s a problem. If you shop threw Google you get spam, or at least websites I’ve never heard of or would ever click on without researching first.

I didn’t see this problem before because I don’t shop on Google. I really only use it for research and spell check, or searching for anything on Microsoft’s website. Don’t care how good Bing is for shopping, it sucks for finding Microsoft things.

I don’t know if I can blame Google too much for this, these sites are setup specifically to game the system. If Google put in extra algorithms to block the sites, then they risk large problems with false positives. If they review the results manually, like one article you linked to suggests, they get hit with millions of requests to do it for everyone else. Plus we can’t put all the blame on Google. These websites are the ones doing the sleazy acts.

Google seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do nothing and lose their search market, or change their search and lose their search market.

Ben Joven (user link) says:

Search needs more competition!

Overall Google being the number one search engine, and having significant market share over Yahoo/Bing is not good for the users or advertisers.

I’m all for Bing taking the search engine result page on Google as a reference or “signal” because I’m tired of arbitrary changes and algorithmic adjustments on Google and websites being at the whim of Google’s profit machine.

Come on $5 billion every three months isn’t enough Mr. Matt Cutts? How many other puppy dogs are you going to kick this week?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

Isn’t this like taking a test and you just copy someone’s answer?

No, because this isn’t an exam designed by an instructor to test your personal knowledge in an environment where you specifically agreed that copying someone else’s answer during a test would result in a zero for that assignment.

But aside from that, your analogy is right on . . .

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

Yes, they are, in some cases.

Not really. If they had passed a user query through to Google, then displayed Google’s results on their page, that would have been copying. Instead, their toolbar sends a message to MS that says “A user searched for “aksjdhaksj” and eventually clicked a link headed to “www.kasjfhkj.com”.

Then MS uses this data to make sure that any future user who searches for “aksjdhaksj” gets sent to the most relevant link for their search. This is really no different from what Google does themselves; they see what people search for vs. what they click on and they use that to rank page relevancy.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re:

“But what i would like to see is an option from them where we, the users, could block the scraper sites mentioned in the article, something like an icon that says “never show me results from this site again” for those of us that are actually logged in to google.”

They did that. Somewhere on my Google Dashboard there’s a list of all the sights that I blocked like that. I don’t know why they stopped, or if they’re still doing it and I just can’t find it again.

Bradley says:

out of line

Mike, I agree with you probably 90% of the time, but it seems like you’re just way off the rocker on this one and over-reacting.

Google called Microsoft out on it. True, they said some stuff in a way they shouldn’t (“cheated” doesn’t really apply), but the results they posted speak for themselves. I’m not saying what Bing is doing is wrong or anything, but if Bing feels the need to include Google searches into their own, that is basically the opposite of saying Google isn’t relevant.

‘This seems like the latest in a series of indications that Google has moved past the innovation stage into the “protecting its turf” stage. That would be a shame. ‘

Really? It was talk. Bluster. A “ha ha we ‘caught’ you with the hand in the cookie jar’ kind of moment, that honestly, I think indicates that Google is still king of the hill.

Again, it’s not so much that your points aren’t valid insomuch as you’re (in my opinion, obviously) over-reacting way too much to this. If the trend continues then I’d be wrong, but I’m not sure it will go down the ‘protect its turf’ path as you think it will.

Bradley says:

Re:

Why the “seriously”? Not everyone spends every moment reading the web for stuff like you do – not that I don’t want to, but my job doesn’t allow for it, and I only have so much time to spare between work, family, leisure, and the miserable 6 hours of sleep I get in nightly.

Slightly related, I’ve also noticed you use the expression “in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard about [X]” a handful of times recently. And each time, I haven’t heard of the things you’ve mention (some were pop music, which I simply can’t stand, so there’s the reason for that).

I read the internet and news a lot more than many people I know (and, obviously, a lot less than others) but why the (likely unintentional) backhanded insult for others not knowing what you do? That’s the point of us reading this blog, to find out what you do know, or think, about stuff.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

They are not indexing Google’s search results, they are recording user behaviour from those who have opted to install the Bing toolbar. It has nothing to do with robots.txt

And the sting only managed to force Bing into “copying” Google results by using phony queries for which no other data would be available, thus isolating the “Google variable” in the Bing algorithm. In any and all real life queries, Google results are only one of many, many factors influencing the results.

Any more questions?

Chris Pratt (profile) says:

Seriously?

I’m the last to defend Google. While I use Google search religiously, get my email through Gmail, etc., Google has been making some damn boneheaded moves lately: it’s two-steps-back alliance with Adobe, booting h.264 support, etc. However, this is a clear-cut case of flat-out theft. Google does search. Their data from search is work-product that improves their product, adds competitive edge, and overall increases their valuation as a company. For a competitor to come along, and use that data to create a competing search product is unsavory at best and actionable at worst. And, we’re not even talking about some independent little company just trying to make it into the game; I might actually understand that, though the approach is still wrong. We’re talking about Microsoft — a huge hulking behemoth of a company with more revenue and greater valuation. Sure, their search product is crap and is probably only mildly successful because of ripping off Google’s data, but the correct response to invest in R&D, in strategic hiring, etc., NOT ripping off another companies data. I hope Google sues them and takes their lunch money.

Mark Murphy (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

They are not indexing Google’s search results, they are recording user behaviour from those who have opted to install the Bing toolbar. It has nothing to do with robots.txt

By your argument, nobody needs to pay attention to robots.txt for any purpose whatsoever, since the same data could be obtained by humans instead of robots.

That’s fine, but then I don’t want to hear anyone suggest that copyright holders (e.g., News Corp) should use robots.txt to stop from being indexed by search engines (e.g., Google), since search engines don’t need to use robots for that purpose. At least then we have consistency.

Personally, I would prefer the consistent solution whereby robots.txt represents a “do not index” roster.

cc (profile) says:

Re:

I have to admit that I’m speaking more as a science guy than as an arm-chair economist (?), and I agree with Google that this is cheating and not innovation (or, at least not technological innovation!).

From a machine learning/document retrieval point of view, it’s quite clear that if algorithm A is trained mostly* on the results of algorithm B, then algorithm A’s results will be at most as good as algorithm B’s but not better.

In essence, if the two algorithms are very similar, algorithm A is trying to approximate the “internal self-programming” of algorithm B (for document retrieval, typically a bunch of weight/probability vectors).

In a different scenario, a weak learning algorithm could perfectly memorise some of the results of a more powerful algorithm, and return relevant results on common queries. However, that algorithm is “cheating” because it can’t generalise to queries it’s never seen before.

Perhaps this leads Bing’s search engine to give more relevant results, but it’s doing it by riding on the coat-tails of Google’s algorithm. That’s not the way to win any data-mining competitions.

* I’m assuming that they’re getting an enormous amount of data from Google searches, which dwarfs the amount of data they get from their own search engine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike Mike Mike… “The very basis for the original Page Rank was “copied” from Jon Kleinberg’s research and then built upon that work.”

I thought copying an idea was ok, but not actual work? Isn’t that what you’ve been saying since like… uh… forever? So it’s not ok for Google to have used a *research* but it’s ok for M$ to literally use someone else’s work?

Anonymous Coward says:

I think this discussion misses important context: (i) the recent article in SearchEngineLand that did a non-scientific comparison of search engines and concluded that the results were of similar quality and (ii) the recent study by Wolfram regarding the ability of search engines to answer Jeopardy questions. These results seemed to show Bing and Google neck and neck in terms of quality.

Google’s revelation, at the least, demonstrates why its not surprising that the search quality from these two studies should turn out to be similar for both search engines when in fact they intrinsically might be substantially different. As someone said, this is like using someone else’s notes for one’s study. Except, that someone else might have done hours of study and organization that made their notes unique and gave them a potential comparison advantage; by also copying their notes without their permission, another student is bolstering his/her performance and making it seem comparable, while putting in a comparatively poorer effort in studying the subject matter and preparing for the exam. To continue with the contrived analogy, would it be surprising that both students scored similarly in the exam? Does it matter that the pilfering student also studied from other sources? How does one really identify the better student in this case? (And, isn’t being better one of the most important attributes that drives one to use one search engine over another?)

It’s very easy for someone not even in the class to pass judgement about the childishness of the star student in this scenario. After all, one didn’t really put in the effort to gather the notes to understand the value of the effort that went into it.

Eugene (profile) says:

Re:

Yeah, I feel like they missed a chance to throw an amusing and snarky jab at their competitor. “Oh, I see Bing is using our data to improve their searches. How is that working out for you Bing? Are your searches slightly better now that you’re finally getting some help from us?”

Instead they come off as impetulant. Saying it’s cheating in particular IS something I’d call ‘odd’. I don’t really have a conception of what “cheating” means in the business world. Isn’t any legal tactic up for grabs? How do you ‘cheat’ then without breaking the law? It’s silly. It doesn’t help their image that there’s a popular view that only the players who lose the race will accuse someone of cheating. So is Google implying that they’re losing? Not a smart strategy.

But then, programmers aren’t exactly the best PR people, are they? Maybe they honestly don’t realize what they’re saying.

darrenkopp (profile) says:

competitors compete by copying/matching

When there are two juggernauts in a room, they compete with each other’s product by copying/matching to gain parity, then making improvements.

Outside of the tech world we can see this with Walmart and Target. Both companies send associates into each others stores to monitor prices to remain competitive with the other. Same with how both companies will allow double coupons (store coupon + manufacturer) and will match all competitors.

Eugene (profile) says:

out of line

It was bluster, true. But it was childish bluster and they could’ve spun it better than they did. Yes the results speak for themselves, yes many people like yourself are perfectly able to look at those results sans context and recognize that Bing is ethically in the wrong (or at least at the lower spectrum between the two). That doesn’t change the context of Google’s response nor the perception that context will generate. Perception is reality for many. That makes it important. Google is historically terrible at recognizing this, so pointing it out to them is probably the best thing we can do.

Eugene (profile) says:

out of line

On the flipside, maybe they’ll get lucky. If enough people agree with Google’s assessment that Bing is “cheating” – a somewhat easy sell considering it’s Microsoft we’re talking about – then the whole social mores thing comes into play and it all works out. I’m a bit skeptical that they can simply get away with that happening, since criticism of Google has been going up in recent months, which evens the playing field between the two. But hey, if it means not having to change their public image, they might as well take the risk..

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

I kind of see your point above, but I’m not so sure about your assumption that the data from Google dwarfs their other data sources. Google could only demonstrate that this was even happening by inventing fake queries to isolate the test from the many other data sources Bing no doubt makes use of.

If it were true that they were simply training their algorithm based on the results from Google’s algorithm, then perhaps you could call this cheating from an engineering standpoint – but if that were the case, there would be no reason for them to do it, would there? As you say, Algorithm B could never measure up to Algorithm A under that system.

But remember, this is not a right/wrong situation – the quality of search results is always going to be somewhat subjective. So if they have developed their own algorithm that they believe to be superior, which they are training with a wide variety of data sources, and they include data from Google – well, that just seems smart.

What I’d really like to see here is a statement from Google saying they have never done this before – but I doubt they would make such a statement because I highly doubt that’s the case. Do you think that, when Google was first entering the scene and developing its search algorithms, they never aggregated data about what users were clicking on in Lycos and Altavista? Because I would be pretty astonished if they didn’t.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

I’m not sure you quite understand what robots.txt is…

Robots.txt informs a search spider not to index a web address – it has nothing to do with the content of the page. When you use robots.txt to block search engines, it doesn’t stop them from reading all the content of your page – it just tells them not to include that specific web address in its index of locations, and not point any users there.

Bing is not indexing the google results pages. It is not adding those URLs to its database. It is also not using a search spider or robot of any kind to do this. It’s not even pulling this data directly from the web. It is collecting data from people’s actual computers through users of the Bing toolbar – recording what they type into google, and what they click as a result. It really is an entirely different thing from a search spider and has nothing to do with robots.txt

AlanL says:

Oh Come on..

Really? No. What actually happened is that Google deliberately picked massively NON meaningful terms that have NEVER been searched on and then deliberately taught Bing – via the OPT IN tracking features of the Bing toolbar to recognize its totally faked results – and then turned around and said they were copied.

Did they mention this ‘coipying’ only happened in about 7% f cases they tried to force? Did they try this on any other sets of results?

And, finally, Google uses its own tracking data and mechanisms to work on its search engine. But somehow that is different.

I just tried a nonsense search that I made up on both (trabgqr) and told Google that I did not want its not very similar suggestion but wanted what I asked for – what did I get? A spammer page that is trying to include every possible letter combination. On Bing I got a better result – that this could not be found. Bing did NOT suggest Google’s not very good spelling change suggestion. Why not if Bing is copying? Oh yeah – because Google staff hadn’t deliberately taught Bing to go to the wrong page.

Matt Cutts (user link) says:

Thanks for the feedback

“For Google to attack a competitor for using open information on the web — the same way it does — seems like the height of hypocrisy.”

I think the difference is that Google crawls the open web, but we won’t fetch pages that are blocked by robots.txt. Meanwhile, even though Google’s search results pages are blocked by robots.txt (and thus not open information on the web to Bing), Microsoft was taking clicks on Google’s search results, sending them to Bing, and then Bing was using them in Google’s rankings.

I think the real danger here is that if an engineer on my webspam team works for a year and releases a new classifier with better search results–Bing shouldn’t get that work for free. Bing should have to develop their own algorithms; otherwise the web is poorer as a result.

That said, I take your feedback, and I’m passing it around within Google.

Anon says:

You are all Confusing Things

The premise is misleading.
There are two aspects to search
1) Crawling (information gathering)
2) Ranking (making relevance judgement)

This debate focuses on Bing copying Google’s relevance results where in fact the experiment was setup to show that Bing is using Google’s results to crawl new sites.

How does google know of new domains that have not been added to its index? It uses Google toolbar and picks up a new site when the user visits.
Bing does the same thing.

I dont see the controversy. G is playing a political PR game.

Big says:

whats wrong

Look at the experiment:
In all search engines, a big component of ranking is
“user tells search engine what is relevant to them”
by means of result clicks, or toolbar, or incoming links to a page..

here.. Google sets-up a fake relevance connection, and a user who (maliciously) tells Bing: “this page is relevant to a this keyword”

Of course bing picks it up. Bing is listening to USERS, not GOOGLE.

rooben (profile) says:

Childish?

Demonstrating how a competitor values Google’s results isn’t childish, its good business sense.
Think of it this way – when you prepare to write an article, you use all sorts of sources to put your data together. This is techcrunch or some other competing website noticing that every time you write an article, you source techcrunch (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot).
So, Techcrunch says “Techdirt uses OUR analysis and research and articles as a source – we must be THAT GOOD!” and then go on to say how techdirt must be in a sad state if they have to use techcrunch’s research, and they should really go do the work themselves.
Yeah, everyone knows that all reporters quote each other anyway, so its not really relevant, BUT its great press.

freak (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

Okay, after getting past the whiny-ness, I see where you’re coming from.

The idea of robots.txt is that sites searching the page shouldn’t index it by first checking the robots file. But that’s assuming the SE indexes by comment.
Bing’s method has nothing to do with robots.txt. It doesn’t ever enter or load the page.

HOWEVER, just because I never have to access robots.txt doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pay attention to it. Makes sense.
If I index the page, I should check it’s robots.txt file.

Perfectly valid point.

The rest of your argument, not so much.

freak (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

Marcus, get past his bullshit for a moment.

“When you use robots.txt to block search engines, it doesn’t stop them from reading all the content of your page – it just tells them not to include that specific web address in its index of locations, and not point any users there.”

Well yeah. And Bing didn’t reference the robots.txt when it included that page in the search results.
Yes, it has nothing to do with robots.txt, but don;t you think it should still check the txt file when it indexes a site?

So, ignoring the rest of his argument, he has a point here.

cc (profile) says:

Re:

“Google could only demonstrate that this was even happening by inventing fake queries to isolate the test from the many other data sources Bing no doubt makes use of.”

The other data sources, and other Google users. They only enlisted a handful of people, and only waited for about a month — their test group would have been overpowered by normal users if they had used popular terms.

“Algorithm B could never measure up to Algorithm A under that system.”

Nope. If both their algorithms are similar (and they almost certainly are; possibly variations on a Dirichlet-based approach but with different implementation details), given enough time both algorithms will converge to giving almost identical results. So, it’s not a matter of surpassing, but a matter of catching up to.

“But remember, this is not a right/wrong situation”

I can almost imagine Ballmer telling his chief engineer “If Google is what people want, then let’s give them Google.”

“Because I would be pretty astonished if they didn’t.”

Be under no illusion. I’m not defending Google, I’m criticising Microsoft.

J says:

Re:

It just seems you are not qualified enough to make this judgement. Klienberg’s research was open (and there was ways PageRank is better than that), Google’s search results algorithm is proprietary. In this case, if you understand what Google says, Microsoft is copying both the query and Google’s results and using that as a signal. If it were just looking at the click pattern, it might still be ok. This is basically about, I don’t know the answer but if Google knows, I will copy it over. You make Techdirt, like dirt.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

The Bing toolbar is not indexing the site from the Google results. It’s indexing all sites that the user visits – same way it does absolutely everywhere they go on the web.

Google uses robots.txt to tell webcrawlers not to index its content. But Google does not own the behaviour of all users who use its search engine – these are users who have opted to share their browsing data with Bing through the toolbar. That is entirely within their right, and it’s entirely within Bing’s right to record it.

To put it simply, robots.txt is geared at *robots* – automated web crawlers. Bing is not using robots here – these are real users who are conducting genuine Google queries, and who have also opted to share their browsing data with Bing. So I stand by my assertion: robots.txt does not apply, and talking about it is completely missing the point.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re:

Well I’m defending both ๐Ÿ˜›

I’m sorry, you still haven’t convinced me that any of this isn’t smart business and smart science. If the problem-to-be-solved is “stuff is hard to find online” then any (legal) method of finding better solutions and training better algorithms is exactly what I expect everyone to be doing. Why would we want it otherwise?

cc (profile) says:

Re:

“Well I’m defending both :P”

O rly? ๐Ÿ˜‰

“I’m sorry, you still haven’t convinced me that any of this isn’t smart business and smart science.”

I never argued either way about it being or not being smart business (I think it is).

As for the science, there’s no science. I’d be applauding them if they were trying new algorithms that give more relevant results than Google’s, but they aren’t. Instead, this multi-billion dollar behemoth is training its algorithm to return the results of its rival. In some circles, that’s called cheating…

Anonymous Coward says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

It is no more cheating than Chrome, Firefox, or IE’s site suggestion features. They work by collecting a list of sites you visit. If you visit techdirt, you likely also visit slashdot, ars, wired, .

Microsoft, through the Bing toolbar, similarly collects a list of websites that users visit subsequent to entering a search term indiscriminate of whether that search occurs on google, bing, ask.com, microsoft.com, etc.

Google, by clicking their own honeypot links, told the MS algorithm that THESE websites are relevant to the “gotcha” search term.

rl78 (profile) says:

I think if Google can show that Microsoft if even in a small percentage of cases, is essentially taking searches made in Bing, running them in Google, then returning the results untouched by there own algorithms, I would say yes this is a big deal. Bing is not supposed to be powered by Google the way yahoo search is by Bing. They will inevitably and unavoidably be using each others data at some point because its available but I don’t see thats what Google is claiming here.

rl78 (profile) says:

I think if Google can show that Microsoft if even in a small percentage of cases, is essentially taking searches made in Bing, running them in Google, then returning the results untouched by there own algorithms, I would say yes this is a big deal. Bing is not supposed to be powered by Google the way yahoo search is by Bing. They will inevitably and unavoidably be using each others data at some point because its available but I don’t see thats what Google is claiming here.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree about search engines getting worse. Try searching for a driver and getting it without needing to pay or install crapware it used to be a bit difficult but manageable, now it is impossible. I can’t so much as find a part for a ceiling fan or a review for a book unless I go through a site like amazon. It is getting downright tedious the number of searches and terms you have to use anymore to find stuff I know I looked up a year ago without any problem. Something has happened to the net over the past year to where if there isn’t money in it for the search company they are not going to get you the information.

Michael Flaster (profile) says:

Thanks for the feedback

This is the part that I don’t get. Can you explain why you think this is the case? I mean, by the same argument, I could say “if I develop a website with tons of great content for years, Google shouldn’t get that work for free. Google should have to develop their own content; otherwise the web is poorer as a result.”

The difference is pretty big. Websites typically *like* to get indexed by Google, as traffic it brings them helps them in some way. And, importantly, if they *don’t* want to get indexed, they can just use robots.txt.

I would argue that it’s pretty simple – if you use someone else’s stuff when they don’t want you to use it, that’s at least unethical. Similarly, published research is published because they *want* people to build on top of it. Hence there’s no ethical issue in using it.

I also think people are missing the whole innovation issue. If Google’s goal is to stay ahead of their competition, and their competition is copying everything they do (which is not the case here, but this is an example), then Google should have all of their engineers work on ways to stop their competition from copying them – and no engineers should work on improving the search algorithm. How would that be good for the industry?

Put another way – imagine A learned from B, and B learned from A – then no one would learn anything, and search results would stagnate…

teka (profile) says:

Re:

that is less an issue of the search engine trying to wring money out of you and more an issue of saturation.

I bet, as we speak, someone is running s script to generate a website along the basic theme of “Drivers” “Dell” “NVidia” “Download” in some permutation, filled with part numbers and driver codes for every piece of hardware ever.. Just to saturate the search engines a little more, send more people back down the line to “extremefreedrivers.ru.com.not.a.scam.com” where they will be encouraged to download the “Driver Helper” virus, i mean, utility. The spammers can put nearly infinite pages to work defeating the one or two truly good results because it works for them.

And i think, much like so much of my email spam, it will eventually be dealt with. better algorithms, clever page-readers and link checkers, etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion… and mine happens to echo the following:

Not really. If they had passed a user query through to Google, then displayed Google’s results on their page, that would have been copying. Instead, their toolbar sends a message to MS that says “A user searched for “aksjdhaksj” and eventually clicked a link headed to “www.kasjfhkj.com”.

I don’t think they’re singling out Google. Even if the user would’ve searched on any other search engine and then clicked on a link from the results, MS’s toolbar would’ve used that information as part of future results returned to users searching Bing for that same keyword. This is perfectly allowed in my book – they’re smart for doing it.

ymala1 says:

Succinct

That’s how I would describe this article. Good work guys, first time I’ve come across this site, doubt it’s going to be the last.

Just to show google, in my own insignificant way, what I think about their childish behavior with this incident, I’ve decided to be childish and change my FF search provider to Bing.

Whiners are weiners.

Tal says:

Oh Come on..

Bing is not ignoring robots.txt because they’re not scraping google’s result page. Users of the Bing toolbar issue a search on Google and their query gets annonymously reported to Bing. The user then clicks on a result, and the result they clicked on gets reported to Bing. Now Bing has some data showing that the query and the clicked URL are related, but they never scraped Google.

Hemant says:

Both are searching and not creating something new

Crawling the web will give them same set of data to find the results. So you should not expect exclusive results. So it is really childish to accuse copying. Say you are solving a puzzle to find words, you will always compare with others to check if you found all results and improve your skills. If Microsoft is not stealing the algorithm comparing results in “search” domain is really not a big deal. In fact it is smart.

Prashanth (profile) says:

I initially agreed given that Bing is supposedly improving upon Google’s search results and associated data. However, this article seems to show otherwise (i.e. Bing is just copying, not improving): for example, where Google shows corrected spellings and shows those results, Bing only shows the corrected results (in the same order as Google as well) but not the corrected spelling.

Michael Flaster (profile) says:

Mike I usually almost ALWAYS AGREE with you but...

I read the details, and I’m sorry, but I just don’t see why this is so wrong. I certainly don’t see a reason to “retract” the article. Microsoft is building off the work of Google. How is anyone worse off here?

So if someone copied your article, “improved” a few paragraphs, and published it on another site, you would be OK with that? How would anyone be worse off? They’re just building on your work.

hxa7241 says:

Thanks for the feedback

> if you use someone else’s stuff when they don’t want you to use it, that’s at least unethical

No, really the ethics are the exact opposite of that. It is telling someone else what they can or cannot do with publicly available information that is immoral.

Public information is a commons: to presume to control people’s access and use of it is to unjustly restrict their personal freedom.

Also, restriction of good information is not a something we could will as a universal rule: we would all lose with no need to.

Androidhelpers.com - IOWA (profile) says:

Mike I usually almost ALWAYS AGREE with you but...

How not? Microsoft “watching” over your shoulder as you click a link on Google from a search, is like looking at a test’s answer key before taking the test. Google is in every way right to call out Microsoft for copying their results. If Microsoft had kept it limited to BING results, on what people clicked, it would have been different.

Furthermore, that just means Microsoft is watching EVERY click you make, possibly even the encrypted one’s. Thank god I don’t use IE for important stuff.

Mike says:

what BS

WHERE is it stated that Googles relevance is decreasing? Maybe the stories that Android is now #1, how apple iphone is getting whipped by android, how more and more people are using google connected services? how checkin in now in every Android Maps app? How on EARTH can you say that Google is slipping? They have never been more on their game, they are crushing it in almost every aspect…lemme guess…this was written by an apple fanboi who is bitter at the success of a company who’s business interestest are completely aligned with the good of the user. Google is pushing open standards, and fighting for open…where just about every other company is fighting against this. I

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Mike I usually almost ALWAYS AGREE with you but...

There are a tonne of websites out there that copy and republish Techdirt stuff without even altering or improving it in any way. Nobody at Techdirt cares. Why should they? Those websites aren’t offering anything and thus aren’t diverting any readers. And if they DO find a way to manage that – well good for them! Techdirt will just have to kick it up a notch!

Within a day of doing my first post on Techdirt some time ago, it was mirrored on a dozen Techdirt ripoff sites and other shifty SEO-gaming aggregator pages and such. I was happy! Even if the sites suck, it meant that much better of a chance that people would read my work – and some fancy lookin’ Google results on my name. Fine by me!

You’ll notice that there isn’t even have a copyright notice or terms of use anywhere on this website. Mike has said several times that he encourages people building off the content here, and doesn’t give a damn about anyone copying it.

Donny (profile) says:

Gotta admit

My first reaction was much like Google’s – Unfair! Cheating! Boo!

But Mike’s right. That’s a childish attitude.

To take the test analogy that’s been thrown around, if your concern was “Who is the best student in the class?”, then yes, cheating would be wrong. But if your concern was “Can we (as a class) answer all the questions as completely as possible?”, then complaining that your hard work on one question was piggybacked by someone else is…well, childish.

Possessiveness misses the point.

Google’s response in words was immature. But words, tss. Let’s hope their actions – what really matters – will speak better of them though.

Ras says:

Miss the Point

Mi,e you miss the point if you are saying it is ok for Bing to copy Google’s search results since Google crawls site to index site in order to produce search results. If you think this is ok then I guess I have a secret formula to create a billion dollar search company. I will simply open a website and port over Google search results

Ron Smith says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

“Isn’t this like taking a test and you just copy someone’s answer?”

Uh, no. It’s like taking a poll from all the test takers and determining what is the best answer.

All the Bing bar is doing is asking: “When you searched for , which link did you click?”

It doesn’t matter if the user got the results from Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Ask.com, AOL Search or any other search engine.

GassyLittleElf (profile) says:

Mike I usually almost ALWAYS AGREE with you but...

I predict this argument will continue to go around in circles but if you want to know why so many normally loyal readers are at odds with you, it is this: We do not feel that Microsoft is “improving its algorithm” by this. We feel that Microsoft is directly copying Google results without doing anything that REQUIRES an algorithm. It looks to me like Bing does its own work via its own algorithm to find results, then hedges its bets by pasting in whatever Google says should be #1. If Bing learned something that allowed their own algorithm to find things, that would be one thing but that isn’t what happened here. Bing never found those results, it just knew that Google had and slapped them into its own results. I know this doesn’t convince you so I think that you and us dissenters will just have to agree to disagree.

Androidhelpers.com - IOWA (profile) says:

Mike I usually almost ALWAYS AGREE with you but...

This is just the way Google operates. They had a windmill (we all have our own windmills you know!), they wanted to know if Bing was copying thier results, well they are. And now Google can not only plan around bing, they can most likely figure something to make bing irrelevant as it was a year ago. Search is Google’s baby, it’s their money maker, and they need to protect that advertising revenue. So most likely, they will find a way to add something to Google while trying to lock bing out.

Kannan says:

Psst, what you get for #12?

@Xerox (I like to copy),
Can you even comprehend what is going on?
This is the most awful analogy but if we have to map the current situation to your analogy then “copying” isnt the word. This is more like a student giving another student tips in study group and the later picks it up.
Google setup 20 of its engineers to “send” click stream data to bing. Bing did not copy or scrape the results.
Geez!

aikiwolfie (profile) says:

I can understand why Google are pissed at Microsoft. On the one hand Microsoft are attacking Google by proxy by suing companies like HTC and Motorola over Android and wrecking deals between Google and other companies like Yahoo not to mention instigating anti-trust investigations. Then on the other hand they’re using Google without Google’s permission to generate their own revenue streams.

I’d be pissed if I were Google and I’d have more than a few nasty words to say. I’d say you guys have a fairly narrow focus here.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re:

>> Google seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Google will adapt. They also have motivation to fight against some of these insane IP laws (at least for the extreme cases), so that is good for the average person.

Google gains leverage as they keep broadening their portfolio. They have found success with browsers, operating systems, and numerous web services and web apps.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re:

>> “in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard about [X]” … That’s the point of us reading this blog, to find out what you do know, or think, about stuff.

I sometimes make that mistake as well and use words that couldn’t reasonably apply to the average person. I get carried away. You assume for a moment that the audience is looking over your shoulder. Certainly, a great many people read this website fairly frequently. Many likely know in most cases.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re:

Smells like anti-trust abuse by Microsoft. Microsoft has the keys for total access to everything Windows users do on their PCs and this includes using the network/Internet. It’s rather trivial for them to update Windows on the fly while it is running (if they really really really want to hide something) encrypt data and store it on file to combine with other material on the user’s computer later on and report key results to Microsoft or to any of many other places. [including having third party partners, maybe working from nations where it is legal, come and harvest the data later.]

Windows is full of ways in which an external agent can control the PC. Microsoft writes the software and they almost certainly sell some of that information to partners. Of course, their EULAs grants them license to do almost anything. [Over a matter of days while trillions of instructions execute on the PC each at lightning speed, a small fraction of that is almost impossible to catch and can analyze a very large amount of material.]

I can keep going, but honestly I think anti-trust authorities should step in. I think people would generally be very angry to understand that one entity (Microsoft) can have that much control and leverage and use it to dominate markets leading to higher prices, loss of privacy, etc. Anti-trust is well warranted.

[I use open source, not Windows or Mac]

BTW, Google stopped using Windows at their headquarters not too long ago. That was an overdue move. Also Russia made a strong statement to move off Windows for the entire nation, and I don’t think (guess) it was a coincidence that the strong statement happened around the time of (and was partially provoked by) the NY Times report from wikileaks material about the US and Israel wanting to intercept a shipment of hardware to Iran which ultimately seems like may have been contaminated with the Stuxnet worm that may have destroyed numerous nuclear centrifuges in Iran. Stuxnet was very sophisticated and relied on flaws that Microsoft has a clear advantage in knowing because it is their software. I think, even if they had understood this for a long time, that Stuxnet was a wake-up call.

In short, don’t depend on the proprietary software your competitor builds. Google made it far by relying on Linux for servers and it was about time they switched their desktops as well. In fact, most successful major web firms independent of Microsoft have relied on other-than Microsoft software, on software that they can audit and control in many ways they can’t do with Windows.

[Microsoft has many partners and avenues, but that does not detract from this point.]

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re:

Let me add that Microsoft will certainly try to claim clean hands to the extent they reveal information about Windows to partners who then do whatever with it leading to user-information-driven and other “unrelated” deals with Microsoft. Of course, I’m not saying some of this isn’t legal or par for course, but enough of it is almost surely enabled only because of the monopoly position Microsoft has on desktops.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

Microsoft doesn’t need Bing toolbar. They own Windows (with generous EULAs and an army of potential partners willing to exploit Windows weaknesses (some of which they might learn about from information about Windows Microsoft might give them)).

If they use Windows for any help at all, the anti-trust card comes into play.

Now, don’t ask me why Microsoft has been allowed all of these years to own their Windows monopoly and compete in many related markets. [without open sourcing Windows entirely of course.]

Jose_X (profile) says:

Oh Come on..

[repeating comment from above]

Microsoft doesn’t need Bing toolbar. They own Windows (with generous EULAs and an army of potential partners willing to exploit Windows weaknesses (some of which they might learn about from information about Windows Microsoft might give them)).

If they use Windows for any help at all, the anti-trust card comes into play.

Now, don’t ask me why Microsoft has been allowed all of these years to own their Windows monopoly and compete in many related markets. [without open sourcing Windows entirely of course.]

Anonymous Coward says:

My challenge: Open chrome. Change default search engine to bing. Type a few chars in the address bar and click on one of the suggestions given by bing. I will bet my life savings that google gets the information as to what was typed and what was selected and in turn uses it to benefit their search algorithm. If they don’t do it, they are dumb. What microsoft did is very similar but just because google managed to game it(isn’t that an offence? I think they should be sued for gaming a system) entire attention has come upon microsoft. But I appreciate the cunningness and timing of google involved here. Very brilliant.

Tom says:

Isn't this the same?

Is this exactly the same as google does/did with other web portals? Remember when you had to use web portals to access information such as news/weather and so on? Google itself used the links in these pages to improve (actually to create!) its own results… And creating these pages full of organised web links took a lot of work for the creators.

So Google used other web pages to feed a search engine algorithm without asking/apologising or even admiting it cheated these pages out of its users… and now google complains someone else did it to them?

I’m not saying Microsoft is much of a innovative company nowadays, but come one! This is exactly what started google to becoming the giant it is today!

(remember msn.com? I wonder if google used links in MSN.com to feed its own search engine…)

ps: Even better is that for google not to feed of your own page of weblinks you have to add a tag for it to ignore it… That’s like having to remind someone not to “steal” your own work!
ps2: I’m not against google/microsoft doing this (it is public information after all). I’m against the hipocrasy of calling other for doing what you yourself do…

Lw says:

Google=Big Crybaby

Seriously?! As I uunderstand it, Google consented, by way of user agreements, for Bing to use or “copy” Google search results when Google employees used the Bing toolbar and the like. As a result, Google has no legitimate reason to complain. That is, Google can’t complain about Microsoft activities that Google has given prior permission to carry out.

What does it say about Google and its products when it resorts to illegitmate publicity stunts to protect its marketshare!

SOPM says:

This is data theft pure and simple, and if Google’s terms of use do not permit it, it constitutes a criminal offence by Microsoft. Microsoft is monitoring data recovered by an IE user of another company’s data and then taking that data and putting it into its own competing service. That is theft of Google’s data any way you look at it. Even if Microsoft has not entered into an agreement with Google to use Google’s data in this way, Microsoft is inducing its users to break the terms of use they have with Google, and therefore Microsoft is criminally liable.

I think the robust and bellicose response Microsoft has come up with is a clear indication that Microsoft knows it is culpable – if you get caught red handed and can’t deny it, then make as much noise as possible to distract attention.

SOMP says:

Isn't this the same?

No it isn’t the same. Google searches all the web pages on the Internet that have agreed to allow search indexing, and creates an index itself. Microsoft is free to do the same themselves.

What Microsoft is doing is snooping on IE explorer users’ actions when using Googles search engine and copying and adding the Google search data returned into Bing.

That is a double wammy.

First IE snoops on what its users are doing, and returns data on what they are browsing back to Microsoft without their knowledge in most cases – a major privacy issue (note Google only keeps peoples Google search records of people’s use of their service, so they don’t monitor your PC).

Secondly, Theft of information in this way is illegal. A parallel to this is in the copyright of street maps. Various companies publish street maps of say Boston. These companies do not have a copyright on the street layout of Boston itself, but they do have a copyright on their data. In other words others can also publish street maps of Boston, but they have to go out and do the survey themselves or buy the survey data from someone who has. They cannot just copy someone else’s street map without licensing it. Map publishers are wise to Microsoft-Bing-like thefts and like google routinely put nonexistent information in their maps in order to detect this type of illegal copyright infringement.

SOPM says:

Oh Come on..

Microsoft has stolen the links period. When IE users searched for aksjdhaksj, on Google it returned http://www.kasjfhkj.com which didn’t have the text “aksjdhaksj” in it. This nonsense link was returned in Bing with the highest ranking. Since there are very few people who would have clicked aksjdhaksj on the Google search engine there is no way that it could have highest ranking Bing, unless Bing is straight copying Google’s searches and presenting them as its own. This is clearly illegal.

SOPM says:

Oh Come on..

Oh, by the way IE couldn’t have gotten the link from the user click either – although snooping in on the users transactions with a competitor’s service and using that data on your own is equally dubious in its legality.

Why? try clinking http://www.kasjfhkj.com and you will realise that the link doesn’t even work, so it looks like Microsoft has done a straight copy of the results Google returned. Looks like blatant copyright infringement to me. This is not just screen scraping since the results seem to have gotten into Bing database.

SOPM says:

Just Curious:

Because the returned search data result sets belong to Google, the same way that street map data belongs to its publisher. Simply taking that data and using it for your own competing search engine or map is an infringement of copyright plain and simple. Microsoft makes that case so often when the BSA prosecutes its customers for piracy, but here we have Microsoft wantonly pirating Google’s data and claiming it is OK to do so.

leonard pinth garnell says:

Seriously. Do you work for Microsoft or something? Google made a name for itself beating the other current search engines (hotbot, altavista, lycos) by inventing a faster, more efficient search algorithm. How is it OK for another search provider to pose as a search engine, but really use Google’s technology?

Your article seems very bias to me.

Warren MacEvoy says:

poorly written

Mike clearly misunderstood the implications of google’s investigation. They clearly show IE is using information on searches from Google to update and strongly influence results of Bing. Not a duplication of algorithm, but outright stealing of google search results, even if they intentionally don’t make sense. This is not reverse engineering an algorithm or mechanism; this is stealing someone else’s stuff and selling it as your own.

Michael says:

It’s a competition of innovation. When Google creates a search engine, it competes with other search engines by bringing something to the table. Its algorithm is quite famous for having brought about some of the most relevant search for its opening years, and it still continues to do so now.

That algorithm is property of Google who, in turn, make the results derived thereof a matter of public interest. Bing, on the other hand, is using a similar algorithm of their own to find search results and does not claim credit for the content within those web pages, merely that they have found results that match your query.

The part where this gets hairy is that they use Google (and thus their algorithm) to double check their answers without giving credit where it is due. This means that they think their search results are not accurate enough to compete with Google so they, instead, run it through Google to make sure on each search. When they get it right, then they are simply using their own information and algorithm. When they get it wrong, what do they do?

If the answer to a wrong algorithm is to rely on Google, then what happens when Google ceases to exist (if ever)? Then you are left with a company (Microsoft) who has a partial product that simply leeched on Google. Maybe then they’ll start working on perfecting their search algorithms.

The fact of the matter is that Microsoft should at least give credit in the form of “These search results were brought to you by us…and Google helped make sure they’re good.” Either that, or make their search engine stand alone and able to give the results it gives without using Google.

Now… perhaps there might be another entity (I think I may have stumbled across some of them in my time) that wants to make use of all search engines and compile them all on one page. That’s fine, because the ones I’ve seen show little icons like “This result is from YAHOO, this one is from GOOGLE, this one is from ASKJEEVES.” That’s cool. They are genius for using the public information of others while still giving credit where it is due. It’s not a hard concept.

Trent says:

Fucking Moron that wrote this article

Fuck you cocksucker , google did nothing wrong and BING and MICROSOFT are fucking assholes who want to take over everyting just like our Government wants to SO FUCK YOU IN YOUR ASSHOLE for attacking google . you stupid ass mother fucker, how long is your tongue and how far is it up bill gates’ asshole anyway , fucking MS Fan Boy fuck you stupid retarded asshole, I wish I could kick your fucking ass right here and now . Stupid mother fucker, your article reads like something a liberal democrat faggot would write, I mean really you sound like a fucking homosexual… DumbASSHole

Trent says:

Re:

it isn’t right and MS are a bunch of sorry faggot ass cocksuckers

damn mother fuckers installed bing bar on my PC even though i specifically clicked on hide update.. Fucking MS Bastards, I wish I could watch someone like saddam hussien slaughter their families in front of them for ripping off google like that… Fucking assholes… It would be like FORD selling trucks and when you went to buy one they ran next door to chevy bought a truck ran back with it pulled off chevy emblems and glued some ford ones on and then said ” OK HERE IS YOUR NEW FORD TRUCK” …
Goddamned stupid fucking MS cocksuckers

Trent says:

Isn't this the same?

yes but that isnt what google did anyway you fucking assclown
and what MS is doing now is straight up ripping off google,
what If I jsut copied win 8 and called it New 8 and started selling it with my own company ?

Thats exactly what these cocksuckers at MS are doing

Of course you are likely a Homosexual with that faggot ass attitude anyway
Dumb Brother Fucker

Trent says:

Who uses bing?

You are Right Google is King
and Microsoft and Bing sucks Cocks…
I had to laugh when they had that pepsi challenge type of commercial and they were actually able to pay a few imbeciles to say they liked Bing Better than Google…. DUH

fuck that, they would have had to offer me a 60 million dollar 4 year contract to say that fucking moronic bullshit

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