Preeching to the Choir


Ok, this has been bugging me for weeks now. What is it with this sudden trend amongst SEO's to post prolifically in forums about IR (information retrieval) - im not talking about discussing how to get better PR, or whether that actually matters. Im not talking about discussing whether a certain technique works or not, and im not talking about general speculation on what may or may not be playing out in Search algorithms.

What i am talking about is

  • Calculating PR to 13,344 decimal places
  • Posting purely to link to huge amounts of theoretical papers on algorithms
  • would Dr Numpty's WTF algorithm combined with Prof. Strumpets OMGYW thesis of time traveling turdburgers improve a pages temporal distortion in the causality of the Search time continuinuinuiniunum thus allow us to make bigger tits of ourselves?

er.. got a bit carried away on that last one heh..

You must know what i mean though right? This just seems to me to be preaching to the choir, yeah yeah, it's all very interesting "Mr im so gutted im not a phd" but how exactly is this helping you rank your sites?

I just know someone will say, "to understand future algos you need to look at what may come" - yeah yeah, clearly, however this self trumpeting phenomenomom goes way further than that and if, as i suspect, it's goal is to make everyone else on the forum think your real clever, it's not working with me.

It makes me think your a prat.


I don't really mind if someon

I don't really mind if someone posts a few URLs. Those hyperlinks are what make the Web work. Some annotation would be nice though.

Sometimes, I'd like to learn about a fish without getting hit with the entire collected works of Jacques Cousteau. ;)

Look Ma, No Hands!

That's exactly how I feel when run into a post that does little more than point to a bunch of someone else's research papers. It strikes me as the author saying, "Look at me"! And I think to myself, "Wow, you've worked out how to cut and paste URLs".

Do we really need yet another compilation of URLs? For people that work with search tech for a living?

Then there's jargon vomit. I value a great vocabulary, I really do. But using a $5.00 word when a nickel word will work (suffice) violates the word economy. "Work" is a nickel word, "suffice" runs about forty cents. ;) So, when I see a bunch of jargon or pricey words being used, I always get the feeling that the author is following the old "bullshit" maxim. "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit".

There's a few reasons for jargon vomit.

1. The author doesn't understand what the hell the original author said, and can do little else but vomit up the original piece.

2. The author wants to appear bright and well-researched and leaves the original jargon intact.

3. The author can't articulate because of lack of skill, or lack of understanding.

All of which violate the rule of, "don't waste my time". If you have nothing to offer but the original research, then a link to the original paper will suffice. ;)

As it's before 5 a.m and I haven't finished that first cuppa, I'll exit with one of my favorite quotes.

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Edward R. Murrow

Posting about research papers isn't bad, however

Not reading a research paper and posting about it, is bad. I find that many people across the forums are posting without reading or understanding the topic matter. I see no problem talking about IR or any other research paper as long as all participants do their homework and read the article. If the article has no relevance people won't post about it after they have read it. However papers like LSI, Phi Phi and other relevant papers need to be discussed and can be very helpful to us.

nick just don't start complaining about too many off-topic threads in the foo, i mean the mayhem thread :)

SEOs have feelings too

So, Nick Wilson in his blazingly popular Threadwatch posts a rant about how he hates the way search engine theory is knocked about in discussion. In response, a dozen SEO's get Paranoia 101. I have to admit, I've had to...

Students and phi

Yeah chrisr, this embodies the point of my post well. some student posts a bunch of papers and high brow theories and the masses all start worshipping them as a god - its embarrassing.

Phi - nah, tha'ts cool stuff - an interesting observation on the current algo shift and an excellent conversation followed - wonderful :)

And if you guys are interested in this stuff, POST IT - you all know where the submit button is, i probably wont post that much of it, but i'd suggest you not limit your TW intake to what Nick thinks is cool, i haven't done any real seo in months and i've always said that im not techy with this stuff anyway - that shouldn't stop the rest of TW from being interested though eh?


Contrary to what you may think Rand, this was a general statement on a trend im seeing across multiple forums... and although posted as a rant, a good basis for discussion - and we've had some excellents points posted, so thank all :)


when people 'prove their point' by referring to papers which are years out of date or where they've taken a quote out of the context of the paper.

The actual theory discussions are cool though if you can spare a couple of hours to get your head around them.

I disagree almost entirely wi

I disagree almost entirely with your post Nick.

Understanding Ppotential future developments is probably the single most important part of being an effective SEOer.

It's simply about good business. You can be proactive or reactive.

I'll stick to being a Pro. :)


I think posts that are intended to discuss a theory or illuminate - great. Any sort of self-agrandizement (which there are lots), self-promotion (even more) or simple "hey look at me!" (way more) are always going to suck. For me, 'quantum feces sandwich' theories or not, as long as the intentions are good what the prob? :O)

My main problem with the forums right now is lots of questions and not many real answers, people posting potentially useful information is some times a breath of fresh air ;O)

Dare I disagree(ish)

Nick, I'm going to partially agree and partially disagree. I see nothing wrong with people attempting to understand more about potential and current developments in the IR world. If people have the time, then great. It certainly makes sense as a long term investment in rankings.

However, I do have a couple of concerns. One is people who sound clever and the unquestioning way many SEOs follow them. Posting a bunch of papers or using the correct terms is often enough to imply understanding and is normally followed by some very iffy ideas. The other is the increasing tendency of IR PHd STUDENTS to try to teach us about IR. Ignoring the obvious conflict of interest, the point is that the general trend is to use second hand regurgitated information rather than going to source.

I did find it GREAT !!!

I do like the postings of links to univ. papers and such, I can tell you that it ALWAYS opens my mind on what am I doing wrong or how should I prepare for the future, it does not mean that the SE is implementing those methods BUT it does points out the signals for good written pages as the SE views it, and my target is to live in peach with the SE (but on the #1 position on the page :-> )

P.S. this is my 1st post here, I have been reading this blog for over a week now and found it one of the best SEM resources out there (and I am reading on a daily bases most of the big ones ! great work !

I promise I'm trying to help

I know this post is directed at me. I can't help but feel that it seems a little overzealous. How bad is it really to have another perspecitve on SEO? I know you mentioned you hate posts about Google optimization, hate posts about the Sandbox, hate posts about PR... what are we allowed to post that will meet your standards?

When I do delve into technical papers, I always try to pull out something for even the newer-moderate level SEOs. I really see value in this and I thought that you would too... you're making me sad Nick.

I still love your site, though. Even being called a turdburger can't make me stop reading - thanks for having a unique perspective and sharing it with the rest of us.

- Rand


Rand, your name didn't come to mind for myself. :)

Actually laughing out loud...

felt great after a stressful day. Thanks, Nick.

There is a lot of merit to many who are making the type of posts that are the target of your rant, but I definitely feel where you're coming from.

There's certain people who do it well and offer some down to earth explanations of how it's applicable - that's helpful. There's other's that share for the fascination of a new theory - that's interesting. There's others that post links to ten Dr. Frankenflipperstein's quarbantical associations white papers in order to look like they're really diving into the research of uncharted waters - that's turdburger timetravelin'.


Thanks for a good laugh Nick :)

It's always nice to hear someone really speak their mind ;)

follow the leader

I guess everyone wants to feel important, if you could quote some big theory and impress a newbie it could make you feel better about being #400 for that coveted three word term. Truth is, most of the newer SEOs are just stupid and they will follow anyone who pretends to be a leader.


...the relevance of any preach is in the eye of the beholder. As long as they don't link to it without explaining the benefits, I'll read it.

Time traveling turdburgers with big tits

HAHAHAHAHAHA....thanks for the good laugh Nick...ya out did yourself on this one. At some point you have to put down the research, pick up the web editor and start crankin' some stuff out.


Nick, I suspect this page will soon rank #1 for "time traveling turdburgers", whether or not you pay attention to the scientific gobbledy-gook.

>>>thesis of time traveling turdburgers

Priceless. I find reading such enlightened posts illuminating, and help me to understand what's at stake: large, huge, massive amounts of traffic.

Whether or not a turdburger can in fact time travel, or whether or not probability exists within the hypercube - are another matter.

Whilst looking at a problem, one must realize there is a continuum of answers & solutions...the more perspective one has, the more likely one is to achieve that perspective which puts paid to the problem, and shines light on the answers.

Think of a bell curve...the sides are those aggregious techniques which don't work - or yeild bells & whistles and filters which dampen your odds of ranking successfully.

The sweet spot in the middle - is a shade gray, where numerous techniques play their part to drive you higher & more "relevant" (love that term) than the rest of the pack.

So...what do ya'll think of probability & the hypercube? ;)

Of course!

* would Dr Numpty's WTF algorithm combined with Prof. Strumpets OMGYW thesis of time traveling turdburgers improve a pages temporal distortion in the causality of the Search time continuinuinuiniunum thus allow us to make bigger tits of ourselves?

I would have thought that one was bleedingly obvious. I mean really, even a cursory scan of Dr. Numpty's theory would reveal his causal link between any form of time-travelling excrement, and the relative tit-size of the average human.

And that would obviously put all the breast-enlargement pill spammers out of business, so it will never happen. No worries.