A substantial portion of the web world is turning today to look at a small experiment underway at Google, but there’s no reason to believe that big changes are right around the corner. Googlified, one of several independent Google watchdog blogs, discovered a new voting feature in the Experimental section of Google Labs and promptly jumped to the click-friendly conclusion that something Digg-like was afoot.
The search company is experimenting with letting users give thumbs up to certain items on their results pages to move those items up the page, or to select an X icon to hide a result from the page. Users can also suggest a link to be included in their personal results page for the same search query again. You have to be logged into a Google account to see the results of your clicking on these icons the next time you search.
A few things to keep in mind, perhaps talking points to bring down your hyperventilating co-workers:
- There’s zero indication that these personal votes will influence everyone’s search results and in fact it’s quite unlikely. The current algorithm reflects years of ongoing work by some of the smartest scientists in the field. Google doesn’t need your and every hired fraudulent clicker’s input into what’s a good search result.
- This looks a whole lot like personal bookmarking, which is good to offer as many methods of as possible as there are many people in the world and thus many ways that work best for different groups of users. Is bookmarking online a straight path to manipulation of global search rankings? No.
- Voting has been around longer than Digg, so even if you see voting happening, it’s not necessary to call it Digg-like. Ok? How about we only call voting systems “like Digg” if a varying number of votes, not all of which are valued equally, are required within a short period of time in order for a much larger number of people to be meaningfully exposed to what was voted on. And there are comments, which can be voted on as well. The US Presidential election, for example, is based on voting – but is nothing like Digg. Agreed? Kthxbi.
Google Operating System, a particularly smart Google watch-dog blog, concludes its post today with links to previous, similar experiments by Google – like add better search results, reorder the results and remove search results.