USA Today May Be A Bit More Social, But It Doesn't Want Google To Know What The Riff Raff Have To Say

from the not-really-letting-them-in dept

USA Today has definitely been a lot more innovative than some other newspapers in trying to figure out how to thrive online. While other newspapers have tried to shrink their audience or shrink their relevance by putting up hurdles that take them out of the greater conversation, USA Today has stepped forward with experiments to embrace citizen journalism and embrace social media tools. None of these experiments are guaranteed to succeed, but it does seem like a good sign that the newspaper is trying and seeing what happens. However, it appears that while USA Today has embraced some aspects of breaking down the barrier between the newspapers and the people it serves, they're still pretty scared of having those people associated with USA Today's brand. The new social features are designed such that the information that people put into them is hidden from search engines like Google.

Matt Marshall over at VentureBeat contacted USA Today to find out why, and was basically told that the newspaper is worried that the general public will give its brand a bad name. A company representative told Marshall that the newspaper is worried "about what content is associated with the brand...." That seems silly however. The comments here on Techdirt are wide open and indexed by search engines -- and while there may be a few people who somehow think that a random commenter represents the views of Techdirt, most people recognize that they're the views of someone else, but posted here. The USA Today representative followed up his statement by saying: "We're still a newspaper." But, that's just the thing. They're no longer really a "newspaper," but a business that's delivering news and information in a useful way to a community of people. Devaluing that community by suggesting they're not worthy of being included in Google isn't a particularly friendly "welcome" gesture.

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  1. identicon
    Dan, 7 Mar 2007 @ 9:48am

    papaer comments

    I run a few sites and many times I feel that very large and off topic comments actually hurt search relevance and targeted ads... So perhaps having the main stories index while not having the comments dilute the story content and such isn't a bad idea... Sometimes comments ad a lot to the topic, but many times it doesn't seem to add directly to the content search value... Since search engines make use of keyword ratio and such in the content it make sense to perhaps control what is included with that somewhat.

    Obviously entirely community written pieces should be indexed, but comments on other stories might be a bit different.

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