points us to the news that a city in Russia, Chelyabinsk, which is ranked in the "top 10" list of "dirtiest cities" by the government, has apparently decided that the best way to spend taxpayer money isn't necessarily to make the city any cleaner, but to clean up their Google and Yandex rankings
. They've put out for bid a search engine optimization contract, in which they want the top 150 results on the city's name to show "positive or neutral opinions of the ecology of Chelyabinsk and the Chelyabinsk region." At most only 20% should show "negative reports about the region's environment." Chelyabinsk was apparently near a nuclear waste facility explosion in 1957, which the Soviet government covered up for over 30 years. The city is also hoping that "search queries related to that incident," will have much cleaner results. I'm sure plenty of cities do some SEO activities these days, but there does still seem to be something quite questionable about focusing on cleaning up your search rankings, rather than cleaning up the actual city.