Industry rumours, scandal and intrigue - it's all here.

Google News Personalization - Fluff?

Thread Title: Customize Google News... Why? Thread Url: http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/004328.html Thread Description:

Yesterday, the search blogs were abuzz with the non-news that Google News had added some personalization features. I played around with it a bit, but couldn't find anything interesting or useful about it so gave it a miss. Of course, i missed the fact that the "big news story" being a big non news story might be news in itself heh...

Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo! didn't.

But I use a few browsers and several computers. Without any sort of login or registration system, though, I have to make the same customizations on each of those machines and on each browser [....] Other than showing off some DHTML stuff, what's the deal with offering customization without a way of making my settings really persistent?

The comments are fun aswell:

I've suspected for a few months now that Google's main growth focus is "showing off some DHTML stuff."

I've resolved to try and find something positive to say about Google today, but im finding it hard as my mind wrestles with the concept of AutoLink and Google's atrocious communications strategy of late...

Feel free to kick me for being a bit anti-google lately, i probably deserve it, but hey, im only human, and some of this stuff is upsetting....

Messin' with Google is Bad for your (website's) Health

Thread Title: Hacking Google Print Thread Url: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2005/3/7/95844/59875 Thread Description:

A couple of days back, an interesting article appeared on Kuro5hin entitled Hacking Google Print. It detailed a way to get a complete pdf book from Google Print

In the K5 article he linked to his own explanation of how to hack the Google print service at GregDuffy.com

GregDuffy.com appears to have been removed from the Google index entirely. Or at least it appears to have had it's potential to rank for search terms taken away.

Don't Blame Google

I don't blame Google for taking action, i'd act to remove a post that exposed how to hack Threadwatch if it appeared on my website - however, in light of all the bad press el goog are suffering recently, i might have thought to contact Greg and ask him nicely to remove the page first.

I'll bet he would have done it aswell...

Google Speaks!

After some conversation in the comments and quick call, Threadwatch learns that a search for site:http://www.gregduffy.com does indeed return results and GoogleGuy, the as yet unnamed and sometimes unofficial Google representative tells me that he'll be looking into the case as soon as he's in the office.

Whereas it still looks as if something may have been done, i'll buy that it could be a technical problem for now and we'll wait to see what Google have to say later in the day.

Microsoft Test Web Based Aggregator - Snubs Firefox

Thread Title: Microsoft's RSS aggregator Thread Url: http://www.siliconbeat.com/entries/2005/03/09/microsofts_rss_aggregator.html Thread Description:

So, wanna see what might be coming soon, in answer to Ask Jeeves' Bloglines? Of course you do!

Will Start.com be the Next Big Online Aggregator?

Here it is, as part of MSN's Sandbox: Start.com

You'll need to view it in IE, and you'll need to hit the "show" link at the top left to see what it does - it didn't appear to work at all when i tried it but hey, it's in the sandbox! heh..

Snubbing Firefox

Naturally Start.com throws web standards out of the window and thus Firefox with it, what more would you expect? (Small Plastic Trumpet™ to the first one to point out that Threadwatch doesn't validate either heh..) but if they're going to work on this, one would hope that it's not a deliberate snub and that it will look good in as many modern browsers as possible.

We will see.

Blog Cat Fight! Weblogs Inc vs Gawker on Transparency

Thread Title: Jason Calacanis Outs Gizmodo Thread Url: http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com/entry/1234000190035154/ Thread Description:

Handbags at 20 paces! Calacanis lays into Gawker over accepting Siemans offer to cover CeBit.

Seems a lot of people are missing the honesty part of blogging. From Jason Calacanis:

Couple of month ago we were approached by Siemens with the offer to fly to CeBit for free...

We were offended, but hey, we can understand Siemens marketing folks taking a chance. I mean there are a ton of folks out there who will sell out their editorial. And it appears Gizmodo is clearly one of them, having taken the offer which we declined.

Gizmodo replied:

Gizmodo Siemens offered to pay for my flight and hotel at CeBit, which I thought was pretty nice of them, especially since I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. They seem pretty progressive about the whole thing, really, saying they had considered setting up their own press outlet during the show, but thought it would be easier just to show Gizmodo what they were launching and get it out there. I accepted their offer, of course, so I thought it was important to let you guys know the details. We’ve got no agreement to treat them with kid gloves, so I’ll be as objectively off-the-cuff and misguided as usual.

Jason retorts:

Siemens was considering giving their poduct information to the press as we always do, but we figured why bother sending out press releases when we can put them directly on Gizmodo.

It’s interesting that they disclose the junket, but not the terms of their junket. Now, if Gawker Media and Gizmodo will do this kind of thing and tell you about it, you have to wonder what else they are doing and NOT telling you about.

Fred Durst Says it with Flowers

Thread Title: Fred Durst Apologizes For Giving Us A Legal Reacharound Thread Url: http://www.defamer.com/hollywood/gossip/fred-durst/index.php#fred-durst-apologizes-for-giving-us-a-legal-reacharound-035371 Thread Description:

Last weekend we reported on Fred Durst suing Gawker Media over that hacked sex tape business. Now we see that Fred is not perhaps quite the moron he seemed, or maybe that he just woke up and realized what an arse he was being, as he apologizes to Gawker.

He sent Gawker boss Nick Denton flowers bless his headbanging little socks :-)

Is Cnet Seeing Ghosts and Inventing Stories?

Thread Title: Why Is CNET Trying To Invent A Google VoIP Story? Thread Url: http://techdirt.com/articles/20050309/0053222_F.shtml Thread Description:

Mike at techdirt posts an good point about Cnet's rumourmongering on Google and VoIP - Not that i'd point a finger for rumourmongering without holding my hand up high aswell :)

Earlier this year, almost single-handedly, CNET took a Google job posting and jumped to all sorts of conclusions about how Google was planning a VoIP offering -- without one shred of actual evidence. Other news sites went even further, but it was CNET that started the rumor with very little to go on. While that rumor finally died out, it looks like CNET can't get enough of the silly speculation business, and has resurrected the rumor based on nothing more than the fact that there were some Google employees at VON -- including the fact that one Google employee is (gasp!) a personal friend of Jeff Pulver, who created and runs VON.

It does raise the issue of how far we should trust traditional media, or big media though eh? - Just 'cos it's on Cnet, doesn't mean it's true - and they're clearly as prone to a good bit of gossip as the rest of us...

Google Bans itself for Cloaking? - ROTFLMAO!

Thread Title: Google Cloaking and Keyword Loading On Pages Thread Url: http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum30/28470.htm Thread Description:

Further to Adam_C's discovery that Google were cloaking, their unofficial rep chooses a safe haven to make his excuses in this wmw thread - He says they've removed the pages, and will have to file for a reinclusion.

I assume he's joking, funniest thing i've read in a long time heh...

GG says ...

Hey everyone, I'm sorry that it took me a while to post about this. I wanted to make sure I completely understood what was going on first.

Those pages were primarily intended for the Google Search Appliances that do site search on individual help center pages. For example, http://adwords.google.com/support has a search box, and that search is powered by a Google Search Appliance. In order to help the Google Search Appliance find answers to questions, the user support system checked for the user agent of "Googlebot" (the Google Search Appliance uses "Googlebot" as a user agent), and if it found it, it added additional information from the user support database into the title.

The issue is that in addition to being accessed via the internal site-search at each help center, these pages can be accessed by static links via the web. When the web-crawl Googlebot visits, the user support system thinks that it's the Google Search Appliance (the code only checks for "Googlebot") and adds these additional keywords.

That's the background, so let me talk about what we're doing. To be consistent with our guidelines, we're removing these pages from our index. I think the pages are already gone from most of our data centers--a search like [site:google.com/support] didn't return any of these pages when I checked. Once the pages are fully changed, people will have to follow the same procedure that anyone else would (email webmaster at google.com with the subject "Reinclusion request" to explain the situation).

Google Blocking Automated Queries

Thread Title: Google Blocking Automated Queries Thread Url: http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum30/28417.htm Thread Description:

From WebmasterWorld

Ogletree: I just ran a rank checker and I get a google page telling me I have a virus and that I can't search until I put in a code that is in a picture on the page. I ran it last night and this morning and many other times for over a year and never got that. Is this new?

A few threads later GG response

Hi ogletree! That page originally started because when someone has a virus or a trojaned machine, they often don't realize that their machine may be sending queries to Google without them asking. :)

Recently, we've started to improve the software, and it can also detect lots of things like rank checking and other automatic queries to Google. Of course, we don't show the message to everybody that comes onto our radar, but our new software looks pretty good at detecting programmatic queries. If you're using WebPosition or other software that sends queries to Google from a program, I'm not surprised if you're going over a threshold where your queries are on the radar.

If you do see this message, I would recommend not sending so many queries to Google--the volume or type of queries are unusual enough that it's attracting greater scrutiny from us. If you avoid sending queries to Google from a program, you'll be as right as rain.

Best wishes, GoogleGuy

Rubel Calls for Action on Google Autolink

Thread Title: What Traffic Google Giveth, AutoLink Taketh Thread Url: http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/5204.asp Thread Description:

Rubel is calling for action on the Evil™ Google Autolink atrocity. Talking about it's similarity to M$'s aborted Smart Tags he said:

Today Google has a similar public relations crisis on its hands, but it’s choosing to ignore a case study taken directly from Crisis Management 101 by continuing its arrogance. Consider what Google product manager Marissa Mayer told Washington Post columnist Leslie Walker: Mayer said that online publishers that want to protect their content should add links to prevent Google from doing so because the Toolbar technology will not override existing links. In other words, Google is saying “Tough luck. This is your problem, not ours.” What nerve.

Adwords Advertisers Urged to Act

The reason Google has yet to back down is that its AdWords customers have yet to speak up. AutoLink clearly threatens to erode some of the value that Google’s advertisers receive from AdWords by taking some of that traffic back.

If you are an AdWords customer and you think this is overreaching, now is the time to act. Speak up. Demand that Google play nice by giving you an AutoLink opt-out. After all, you’re paying for them to give you traffic. Do you really want them taking it away behind your back? Google has already ignored the influencers over the AutoLink debacle and it seems like it is on track to be even more aggressive. But if Google AdWords customers speak up, you might be able to ensure that your content and traffic remains just that -- yours.

Google, get out of this now. Remember where your reputation came from, what we gave, we can take away just as easily.

Google Caught Cloaking and Keyword Stuffing?

Thread Title: Google Caught Cloaking - Keyword Stuffing Titles Thread Url: http://www.threadwatch.org/node/1773 Thread Description:

A short while ago, Threadwatch member Adam_C discovered what for all appearances seems to be Google pulling dirty SEO tactics on it's own pages and thus going against it's own guidelines in an effort to rank highly within it's own results.

Cloaking Cloaking is covered in Google's guidelines as something strictly not to do:

Don't employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.

Although there is some debate within the SEO industry as to what exactly cloaking is, in it's simplest form it is showing one page to search engines, and a different page for users - much of the debate hinges on intent.

Here's how Google define it in the Google Webmaster FAQ

The term "cloaking" is used to describe a website that returns altered webpages to search engines crawling the site. In other words, the webserver is programmed to return different content to Google than it returns to regular users, usually in an attempt to distort search engine rankings. This can mislead users about what they'll find when they click on a search result. To preserve the accuracy and quality of our search results, Google may permanently ban from our index any sites or site authors that engage in cloaking to distort their search rankings.

Keyword stuffing Keyword stuffing is, as you might expect, the practice of stuffing a page with the keywords you wish to rank for - without off page optimization it's worse than useless, but combined with incoming links, and cloaked to appear normal to visitors (they see a nicely worded page, search robots see the kw stuffed page) it can be highly effective.

Google Caught Cloaking - Keyword Stuffing Titles

Just did a search for traffic estimate.

Look at the title on the 3rd result down, check the cache and then the actual page.

Spot the difference?

Not necessarily cloaking but looks like it to me.

(I assume outing Google aint a problem!)

Bloggers, G$, M$, Lunch and Conspiracy Theories

Trying to avoid actually working, I surfed here and there as ones does, and came across this blog by Mark Lucovsky

Odd one this, I cannot quite put my finger on it. Why was Mark Lucovsky lunching with Mark Jen at Mountain View? It was announced on March 3rd that Mark Lucovsky had "defected" to Google

Quote: One of Microsoft's key Windows architects has defected to Google. But at least so far, no one is talking about what Marc Lucovsky's new role will be at one of Microsoft's major rivals.

But it turns out he left M$ much earlier than this, in November in fact

Quote: Lucovsky "voluntarily left the company on 11/18/04," confirmed a Microsoft spokeswoman. "Obviously Microsoft can't comment on whether or not he now works for Google."

Now like all good M$/G$ executives and their dogs, Marc Lucovsky has a blog - not really a blog, actually it appears just to have two entries, one dated 12th February ...

Quote: A few weeks ago I had lunch with the now famous "Mark Jen". I never knew Mark while we were at Microsoft, even though we both worked in the same group Quote: We had a great Google style lunch at a sunny table in Mountain View. I was too dense to notice that Mark was doing research for his blog.

Nothing of this appeared in Mark Jen's blog. And the other Lucovsky entry is dated 2 March, it appears he had his blog knobbled by G$ management like Mark Jen ...

Quote: Sorry about my blog being down. Looks like someone actually read it... Oh yeah, and Google had absolutely nothing to do with my Blog being down. I took it down, on my own, so that I could shut down the inbound email comment stream

Now Mark Jen only worked for G$ from 17th to 28th Jan. As far as I can see Mark Jen never mentions Mark Lucovsky in his blog. Something not right about this story, dream up your own conspiracy theory !

Xtra Google

Thread Title: Xtra Google Thread Url: http://www.xtragoogle.com/ Thread Description:

Check out XtraGoogle - an app that lets you enter a search term and then click one of the icons, that lead to specialized Google searches.

It's very handy, but i can't see G$ liking it too much. No, wait! It does add value for the user right?

The app appears to be there to promote Topic Hunter

MSN Search Team Taking Flak over SES Party

Thread Title: SES NYC Party Thread Url: http://blogs.msdn.com/msnsearch/archive/2005/03/05/386006.aspx Thread Description:

The MSN Search Team are taking a bit of a kickin' in the comments on their blog entry about their SES NYC party.

To be fair, it looks like those doing the kicking weren't invited :)

A 400 person party for a conference that 1500 folks paid good money for is a bogus idea.

As an exhibitor for the event, I was a bit disappointed when we were turned away at the door for not having the invite (we were exhibiting and HAD our passes).

Perhaps you can take a note from Yahoo's excellent staff and throw a more inclusive party in the future with all that extra money laying around.

Your party was incredible bad. Not letting speakers in or letting highly respected people of the industry wait 45 minutes is definetly _not_ the way to go.

Yahoo did a fabulous party - again!

The best part is that the place wasn't even NEAR being full as you were turning people away from the door. Once we finally did get in, I have to see, seeing a half empty bar made the "turndowns" at the door seem all the more insulting.

And, I gotta agree. At least one of the engines there welcomed all the conferences attendees with open arms. The rest of you could take a lesson from Yahoo.

Notice that Yahoo continue to enjoy good webmaster/marketer relations right now, it can't last forever, but they really are riding a wave of good will at the moment.

From the look of the photo, i'd say it looked like fun, but then then i'd be pretty pissed if i was turned away too...

Autolinks spoof video - If this don't tip it....

Thread Title: Google Autolinks Spoof Video Thread Url: http://www.betterbadnews.com/22 Thread Description:

This'll fucking tip it

More Talk of Google Evil

Thread Title: AdSense (Continued) Thread Url: http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2005/03/adsense_continu.html Thread Description:

Yesterday we reported on Fred WIlson's disclosure of Adsense earnings. Doing this is strictly against their TOS.

Today Fred comments on the TOS, calling it evil, and warning that all large corporations are eventually humbled and advising them to listen to their customers.

Talking about Battelle's comments on Adsense TOS including not being able to run another network alongside Adsense he said:

It is nuts. And it is evil and violates one of the core values of Google. And it should be put to rest asap.

Who do they think they are anyway? I am creating the content that brings the audience. If I want to run one, two, or three ad networks, they should be fine with that. And eventually they will be.

As my kids say, "who made you the boss of the world"?

Can you say backlash? tick tock, tick tock....

Rumour: Fire at Netcetra?

Anybody hear anything about a fire or some major stuff going down at Netcetra. The building was Red Bus and something large happened Tuesday this week? For example hard drives could not be physically recovered.

Tight lipped syndrome at the moment.

I was just wondering if there was any word on the street, or smoke visible at Red Bus?

Google snapping up Microsofts evil?

Scoble says Google seem to be snapping up the people who did evil at Microsoft ;O)

Quote: The folks who did "evil" stuff at Microsoft (Hailstorm and Smarttags) are now at Google. Remember Hailstorm? It never shipped. Why not? Because we (customers, this was back before I was a Microsoft employee) didn't want to let Microsoft own all of our data.

http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/03/03.html#a9505

Added by Nick:

Windows Veteran Jumps Ship to Google

Quote: A top Windows architect has left his Redmond home to join the ranks at Google, although it's not clear what his new position will involve. Marc Lucovsky, a 16-year Microsoft veteran, joins a number of high profile developers hired by the search giant, including Mozilla programmers Ben Goodger and Darin Fisher.

More at BetaNews

Microsoft AntiSpyware is Spyware?

Thread Title: Is Microsoft a Home Page Hijacker? Thread Url: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/6594 Thread Description:

A couple of weeks back, we reported on a sneaky M$ patch that was reseting users homepages to MSN.com as well as fixing bugs...

Now, Preston Gralla at O'Reilly points out that Microsofts AntiSpyware software does much the same thing, every time it blocks a homepage hijack!

How does it do this? In a devilishly simple and exceedingly misleading manner. When it detects that a hijacker is trying to reset your home page, it warns you and then asks whether you want to block the hijacker. When you answer yes, Microsoft AntiSpyware promptly blocks the hijacker. But it then does a hijack of its own and resets your home page to MSN.com.

If you dig deep enough, you can defeat AntiSpyware's home page hijacking. Choose Advanced Tools-->Browser Hijack Restore, and highlight Start Page. Click "Change restore settings to a new URL," type in your normal home page, then click OK. From now on, when Microsoft blocks a home page hijacking, it will let you keep your own home page, and won't do a hijacking on its own.

Quite astonishing....

More Google Autolinks Coming

Thread Title: Google plan to "retrieve links to product descriptions" reports Washington Post Thread Url: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A660-2005Mar2.html Thread Description:

here's an article from the The Washington Post which has some interesting quotes.

Try

Mayer confirmed that more auto-links are in the works, likely using other numbers you can already type into Google's query box to get special results. Those include telephone area codes, which link to maps of covered regions, and UPC or bar codes, which retrieve links to product descriptions.

- as far as I know the first confirmation that additional links are under consideration (yes I know it was obvious but still confirmation from Google) and also interesting that they plan to 'retrieve links to product descriptions'. I'd love to know which sites will be supplying the product descriptions?

and G is listening to feedback according to the article

To make clearer how it works, Google is studying possible changes to how new links are presented and to the menu where they are activated.

Already, Mayer said, Google has decided to give users more choices about where the links will go for books and cars, as the result of feedback the company has received from users.

Finally this is interesting for potentially different reasons

Hyperlinking their own content is the best way publishers can prevent Google from adding links to their pages, Mayer said, because Google's technology will not override existing links

. What'll that do to B&N's rankings for ISBN numbers do you reckon :)