Wednesday 26 September 2012

An update on "Bruce Charlton Sacked" - Google prompt rankings


A while ago I explored the weird word of Google prompts - and the fact that the rankings of prompts they do not correspond to the number of Google search results.

This confirms that the prompts are generated by humans, not by algorithms - but raised questions about the logic being employed.

Here are the latest updates.

Search "bruce charlton" and you are prompted

1. Newcastle University (3,690 results)
2. Miscellany (9,480)
3. Thought Prison (1,360)
4. Sacked (1,370)
5. Medical Hypotheses (5,200)

Again - I find no correlation between the order of prompts and the number of search results - and no obvious pattern on which a human decision might have been based.

However, the person/s who do the prompt rankings have apparently decided that my being sacked (in 2010) is getting rather stale news, and the blog is doing rather better, so the order has altered accordingly.

BUT - I do find that the addition of a space (i.e. striking the space bar) no longer makes a difference to the prompts rankings, as it did last year.




Bruce Charlton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Charlton said...

I see from a piece on Steve Sailer's blog that it may be that the prompt rankings are derived from an algorithm counting searches.

This possibility had not occurred to me since it is so obviously not valid.

After all, once a prompt is in place at the top of the rankings, it will strongly provoke searches using that prompt - and will generate a positive-feedback loop to become a self-reinforcing.

I wonder if Google could really be so foolish as to have fallen into this trap?

Or maybe there is an initial human ranking, which is then turned over to a search algorithm?..

This would enable Google deniably to manipulate the system by (as certainly seems to be the case) inserting search prompts which serve politically correct goals - for example labeling people positively or negatively in line with Leftist ideology; and then claiming that these rankings were derived by a neutral algorithm which counts searches...

(If you compare the highest ranked prompts for Lefties versus Right wingers among politicians, journalists, authors, researchers, bloggers etc., you can see what I mean.)

LDiracDelta said...

In that same article, Steve also posted that they randomize the results. Search on different day and you'll slightly different suggestions.

Bruce Charlton said...

LDD - If you search "steve sailer" you'll see what I mean about politically correct, but deniable, slurs - which no doubt operate as subliminal, as well as explicit, emotional manipulations.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - "Who sacked you?
Celts? Huns? Visigoths?"

It was politically correct management at Elsevier. So, in a sense "all of these above". In another sense, the opposite.

BruceB. said...

Sailer had a piece about how google was censoring Pat Buchanan’s name from their prompt.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - yes I remember that.

The point is that "If you prompt them, they will search".

But - often - if not, then not.

If if someone was typing my name and saw Bruce Charlton "sacked" - then they would quite likely search "Bruce Charlton sacked" to find out what that was all about (sounds quite interesting).

But if they were not prompted, then it would never occur to them - and it is very unlikely indeed that thousands of people are *spontaneously* searching for "Bruce Charlton sacked".

Ben said...

Its very unlikely, considering the magnitudes involved, that there is human involvement here.

It's likely based on the number of searches.

Regarding your argument that it couldn't be: Google can differentiate between searches that come from a prompt and otherwise.

This came off a bit paranoid.

( Oh and reading thought prison now and it's and honor to be commenting on your blog.)

Ben said...

"Bruce charlton sacked" is likely a keyword that came from an article on you. People have seen it and are repeating it in google.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ben - Yes, as mentioned above, I realized this after reading Steve Sailer.

But the possibility literally never crossed my mind that Google (of all people; with their brilliant search algorithm) could use such an obviously foolish algorithm for their prompts - I mean, failing to recognize that the prompt itself elicits a search for that prompt, in a positive feedback cycle.

The current system is wide-open to abuse and manipulation from almost any quarter; and very obviously is abused and manipulated as a method or slur and slander.

That Google either have not noticed or have tolerated this situation is disappointing.