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Microsoft Vehemently Denies Google's "Bing Sting" 596

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the big-surprise-here dept.
eldavojohn writes "In a blog post titled 'Setting the Record Straight,' Microsoft's senior vice president of online services, Yusuf Mehdi, addressed Google's 'Bing Sting' operation saying, 'We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.' Mehdi went on to claim that Google engaged in 'click fraud' in order to rig up their alleged 'experiment.' Mehdi added, 'That's right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results. What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn't already know.' The struggle for Bing to usurp Google as number one in search continues."
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Microsoft Vehemently Denies Google's "Bing Sting"

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:08AM (#35090288) Journal
    When I submitted the story, I had not noticed an additional response from Harry Shum, VP of Bing, who said [bing.com]:

    To be clear, we learn from all of our customers. What we saw in today’s story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking. It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed compliment. But it doesn’t accurately portray how we use opt-in customer data as one of many inputs to help improve our user experience.

    Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:17AM (#35090382)

      Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

      I don't thing they're wrong. I remember years and years ago how excited the Slashdot crowd got when Microsoft started directly addressing their superiority over Linux in their marketing propaganda. It meant Linux was enough of a threat that Microsoft was taking it seriously.

      When was the last time you heard Google talk about other search engines? When it comes to searching, Google's been the undisputed market leader for a long time. For them to seriously acknowledge Bing, even if it's solely in the form of criticism, is still a big step.

    • Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

      It's like in a kid's cartoon, where the hero says something like "This is a terrible crime you're committing, villanor!" and the villain says something like "MUAHAHAHA, why yes, it's wonderfully terrible, isn't it?"

      • by thewils (463314)

        They'll forever be known by me as "Sideshow Bing" now, thanks.

    • by 1s44c (552956) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:25AM (#35090482)

      Apparently Google's accusations are viewed by some as a backhanded compliment.

      It is a complement in a way. If you accuse someone of cheating you are also admiting that you noticed them, they are relevant, and they are annoying you.

      Sadly the core of the story that bing is using dodgy tactics to catch up with technically better competition is just business as usual.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I still don't understand how this is in any way dodgey or underhanded.

        1. Step 1: User opts in to report anonymous clickthrough data to Bing
        2. Step 2: User searches for a term, chooses a search result
        3. Step 3: Microsoft gets the data and compares it against relevent information for that search term.

        Since google chose a random, unique for their search term, there is nothing to compare the user behavior with so it receives a disproportionately high amount of weight. With actual search terms, what a user searches for

        • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:58AM (#35090932)

          Step 3: Microsoft gets the data and compares it against relevent information for that search term.

          So what youre saying is, they ARE copying google, just with the user's opt-in consent? Ah, thats different then.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Of course! If they did it themselves their IP address would be quickly banned by Google so they have to rely on their botnet^W opt-in user base to distribute the queries.

            There was a /. article about Bing last year where they said that their major failing was in not catering to the long tail end of search, so this would appear to be a way of correcting that. You have got to wonder how they manage to keep failing though - their search engine is so bad that even making it the default on 90% of computers can't

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat (99501)

            They're not *copying* the result. They're *adding* that particular term->URL combination to their database.

            This *only* worked because Google chose terms that nobody had ever searched before: "fdsfhasjhdajhhj". So when you do a Bing search for "fdsfhasjhdajhhj" it showed the same results because that's the *only* data Bing had in their index for the term "fdsfhasjhdajhhj".

            Ok, Google, you found a way to (excuse the terminology) Google-bomb Bing using a nonsense word. Now if you can show this technique work

        • by HermMunster (972336) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @01:12PM (#35091860)

          I think most people choosing to opt-in are doing so because they feel that their "bing" searches would be relevant to Microsoft in improving their "bing" search system. I don't think any understood that Microsoft was going to be watching everything they do and every site they searched, including their competitor's.

          Reading the Bing opt-in option I would never have concluded that Microsoft would have been using the Bing toolbar to collect search information from Google. I would have concluded that they were going to follow the process happening at their site in order to fine tune their site.

          What Microsoft is doing is being a parasite. And it shows that they can't work out their own system. It tells me that they are failures and are willing to do anything to create a competent product (something they can't do on their own apparently).

      • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @12:17PM (#35091186)

        That's one way of viewing it, and obviously the way MS is spinning it. On the other hand, once you look deeper, MS' account actually validates Google's account and makes Bing look like a total piece of crap. Furthermore, once you actually critically review what Microsoft is say, they are in fact confirm Bing is a total piece of shit without farming Google.

        Google notices Bing providing Google's results. Google investigates and sets up a sting. Google validates Bing is stealing Google's results, including rank significance. Microsoft fires back with details which attempt to ignore the fact that are taking Google's results as their own; including rank significance which is the most significant element of a modern search engine. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how MS got the data, its the fact that they are reproducing Google's results by using Google's results. No matter how you slice it, that's cheating. Period. Which basically confirms - Bing is absolute shit and is only better than shit when they are farming other search engines. Which, if you think about it, Microsoft is absolutely confirming all other search engines are better than Bing - otherwise they'd never have a need to farm everyone else.

        Basically, you have two choices, you can turn your brain off and accept Microsoft's account, or you can dig a little deeper and see that Google is NOT annoyed by Bing, rather they are annoyed by Bing stealing and reproducing Google's hard work and claiming its Bing's own. Basically, Microsoft is actually confirming Bing is a piece of shit and that they only way they can produce good results is to farm their competition. Which in turn means, your conclusion is 180-degrees wrong. Basically, Google and Microsoft are concurrently confirming how good Google is and confirming how bad Bing works without farming their competitors. Again, no matter how you slice it, Microsoft confirm Bing is a piece of shit and that they farm their competitors results and claim them as their own.

        Google has every right to be annoyed, but its impossible to presume their annoyance is validation so long as you apply any brain power to your analysis. When in fact, its Microsoft who is absolutely affirming Google's superiority to that of Bing.

    • by smartr (1035324)
      Here's what I don't get.... How the heck does Bing go about grabbing Google's search results vicariously through users? Even if you tracked a user's click-through activities, it would only increase the strength of the webpages they go to, not correlate that data with unrelated topics. The results should not have been showing up on Bing's pages at all. To re-iterate, how is Bing associating webpages that have no reason to match search terms to those specific terms? I suppose they could monitor searches throu
      • by sjames (1099) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:56AM (#35090904) Homepage

        User with Bing spyware bar searches google. Bing gets record of term searched on and the results of that search. Bing adds to database.

        • When you install Bing Bar there is a checkbox that says:

          Help Microsoft improve your online experience with personalized content by allowing us to collect additional information about your system configuration, the searches you do, websites you visit, and how you use our software. We will use this information to help improve our products and services.

          You can either A) not install the toolbar at all or B) Opt not to give Microsoft this information.

          • by rjstanford (69735)

            When you install Bing Bar there is a checkbox that says:

            Help Microsoft improve your online experience with personalized content by allowing us to collect additional information about your system configuration, the searches you do, websites you visit, and how you use our software. We will use this information to help improve our products and services.

            You can either A) not install the toolbar at all or B) Opt not to give Microsoft this information.

            I think that a reasonable interpretation of this by a normal user (a level actually very important in a court of law) would be that the user of the toolbar expected information about the searches made through the toolbar to be tracked. Admittedly, "information about ... websites you visit," technically covers referers (sic) and google searches, but by that logic it would cover your bank account passwords too, which would almost certainly fail the reasonableness test.

      • Even if you tracked a user's click-through activities, it would only increase the strength of the webpages they go to, not correlate that data with unrelated topics.

        While Google search results look like links directly to their targets (because they are, right up until they are clicked), Google uses javascript to dynamically rewrite the link target to google URL which includes the target page URL and search terms, which is how Google tracks the click throughs (this Google page then redirects to the real target with a 302 response.)

        Consequently, if you track what link is actually followed (rather than what the link looks like before it is clicked), you will get the actua

        • by RobNich (85522) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @02:33PM (#35093114) Homepage

          While Google search results look like links directly to their targets (because they are, right up until they are clicked), Google uses javascript to dynamically rewrite the link target to google URL which includes the target page URL and search terms, which is how Google tracks the click throughs (this Google page then redirects to the real target with a 302 response.)

          Interesting theory, but demonstrably untrue. Install Live HTTP Headers and do a Google search, then click a result. There's no such redirect.

          They track clicks of search results using Javascript, using the mousedown event on each search result link. There doesn't seem to be a server-side call, so they're probably setting a cookie with the click information and then reading the cookie later, when you return to Google.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The implication of this article is quite clear:
      1) We are not copying Googles results
      2) We are monitoring what users search for and the pages they end up on as input to our search algorithm.

      If 2 is true, then 1 is false, that much is clear. But there is a deeper question: is 2 a valid tactic to improve your search? I would argue that it is, even if it does indirectly copy your competitors results.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:55AM (#35090886) Journal

      It's much more simple than that. They are calling copying "improving user experience".

      It basically shows that bing can't do well enough on their own, and can only compete by mirroring google. I dont' get why they don't just mirror google's results and add a bing stamp to it.

      anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. You don't hear anything about google suing for this, and there have been discussions on whether they would have standing on this (possible - grey area). Was google right to poke fun at bing? Absolutely.

  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:11AM (#35090312)

    The fact that microsoft technology has advanced to the point of linking

    "delhipublicschool40 chdjob"
    to a Credit Union website

    is simply showing how well they understand their potential customers, and has nothing to do with the fact that Google set them up at all.

    • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:18AM (#35090384)

      I have to say that response made me chuckle

      Feigned insult followed by a sleight of hand in trying to associate Google's research with spammers, fraudsters, and criminals.

      What a terrible attempt at denial, it's not like they actually gave any evidence in their defence. They just pretended to be offended, and then tried to change the subject.

      I'm usually quite supportive of Microsoft because I honestly believe some of their products (e.g. Visual Studio) are best of breed, but this is just a joke. They seem to have been caught red handed and have no idea how to deal with it, they'd have been better off just staying quiet and letting the story fade into obscurity than crying out like this without being able to offer the slightest bit of real actual defence such as an explanation of why they ended up with an obscure search term in their search results that Google had manufactured on their search engine.

      • Re:I agree (Score:4, Interesting)

        by aug24 (38229) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:33AM (#35090574) Homepage

        Next thing to do is for someone, maybe someone 'anonymous' to use the same trick to spam the rankings. Simply set up a proxy so that when you hit google for xxx, it returns a page containing yyy then click on it. Automate. Repeat.

        Challenge: get Goatse on the first page for George W or T Blair, perhaps, or at least the dictionary page for 'idiot'.

        Justin.

      • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:35AM (#35090602)
        They did offer a defense: it's the customer data. What happens is even if that customer data is only weighted as 0.001% as important as their other metrics, if that customer data is the ONLY data they have for these bogus search terms, this would happen. Google used obviously bogus search terms which have exaggerated the weighting of that data. In reality, that data might only move a page up or down a ranking on page 10 of a real search on Bing for all we know.

        Unless they come up with some actual evidence of real copying, this is a non-story. The #1 complaint around here all the time seems to be that Bing ISN'T giving the same results as Google so obviously that customer data isn't be weighted as important enough!
        • by Haedrian (1676506)

          They can take customer data off their own products/services.

          I would think its copying simply because, if you look at how search engines work - there is NO REASON AT ALL why that term should have come up. There is no word which is common, even if you were to perform a spell correction and take synonyoms - the vectors are too distant. If they used the data to push up a popular page further up - that might have been borderline sleasy but you can't really say it was copying. The fact that they're making (hard c

        • They did offer a defense: it's the customer data

          Let me see, they put a routine in the customer's computer that collects what the customer types and what is sent to the screen when the customer uses a third party application.

          That is usually considered a crime, not a defense. It would be the weirdest form of alibi if someone claimed he could not have robbed a bank because at that exact moment he was murdering someone.

        • Except Google did offer real searches where they thought they were the deciding factor: "torsoraphy" [searchengineland.com]. The "Bing String" showed that Microsoft's algorithm would republish Google's search results as their own. There's no way outside of reviewing Bing's algorithm and logs how many real search results are "powered by Google".
        • Re:I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

          by suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @12:11PM (#35091096)

          Well, you'll have to make a distinction for me.

          What Microsoft is tantamount to admitting is that "customer data" includes searches on a rival engine, and the relevant results. In other words, "When our competitor successfully finds a result for you, we want to know what it is." Clearly, Microsoft never asked Google if this was okay, or there would be no shock and no argument. Instead, they're using users of their opt-in program (henceforth known as mules [wikipedia.org]) in a distributed effort to get a mapping of search queries to useful results. However, those useful results were generated thanks to Google's long-standing competence in the field, and not by ANY process Bing has a hand in. Therefore it is still to be argued that Bing is appropriating, without due request or apology, a mapping of google's results weighted by the relevance to users of google's site. So tell me--how is that not copying results?

          Further, the mules in this attack are legitimate Google users who are acting on good faith. And indeed, perhaps the weighting on the algorithm is such that until or unless the weighting changes, this mapping does so little to Bing's results as to be utterly innocent. However, if Bing gained dominance (at the expense of Google) because of this mapping, or if for any other reason this caused Google's service to falter or become unprofitable, those users of Google's service will have unwittingly caused its downfall, and they caused that downfall by being satisfied with Google as a product.

          I'm probably overstating it, but it still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth as far as I'm concerned. There's a difference in Bing's policy versus whether or not they're successful at it. If they consider it good policy to sit on the threshold of stealing someone else's results, but then simply not weighting those results highly enough to cause trouble, then I take issue with them. It remains their prerogative to explain themselves if they want to reverse that opinion.

    • Re:I agree (Score:4, Funny)

      by mdm-adph (1030332) <mdmadph@gmail . c om> on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:18AM (#35090386) Homepage
      Their technology is so advanced, how to we know they weren't linking "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" to Credit Union websites _before_ Google was? Maybe the Goog stole it from _them_.
    • by arose (644256)
      Also see: googlebombing....
  • SO WHAT (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Apocryphos (1222870)
    It makes no difference either way. Bing is a search engine. I don't care if all it did was run your query over to Google and search on it and return the results with its own front.

    Welcome to the internet, whiners. Anyone ever use aggregate search engines before? Chill out.
    • I don't care if all it did was run your query over to Google and search on it and return the results with its own front.

      I do, if I could get the same results directly from Google - faster, and presumably with less ads.

    • Do you work at Cooks Source magazine by any chance?

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      It makes no difference either way. Bing is a search engine. I don't care if all it did was run your query over to Google and search on it and return the results with its own front.

      Welcome to the internet, whiners. Anyone ever use aggregate search engines before? Chill out.

      Or you could enter the same query in google and get a faster result. Either way you get the same result.

  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:15AM (#35090356)
    Microsoft says the truth: a search of "Microsoft copies Google" in both Bing and Google yields different results.
  • Following on the heels of Yahoo's great success - Microsoft has abandoned using their own search technology in favor of Google's.
  • Microsoft is shocked and indignant. How dare anybody suggest they might use any sort of underhanded tactics to compete with a rival?
  • by Thud457 (234763) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:22AM (#35090436) Homepage Journal
    And Taco Bell vehemently denies it's "taco smeat" is 77% ground up old circus animals.
  • by Trelane (16124) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:25AM (#35090484) Journal

    They do spy on (sorry, gather 'click stream' data from) IE users (through IE itself, or one of its add-ons). Read those EULAs veeery carefully, folks!

    Somehow this extremely relevant part of the story keeps getting skipped over whenever it's being told.

    The 'click fraud' accusation is hilarious and quite arguably libelous as fraud (and click fraud) is a real criminal act.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud [wikipedia.org]
    "Click fraud is a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.

    Use of a computer to commit this type of Internet fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions, for example, as covered by Penal code 502 in California, USA."
    (also claimed to be a felony at http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/click-fraud.html [legalmatch.com] with claims of arrests.)

    • Exactly. The moral of this story is: if you use IE, then your information is being passed to Microsoft and being used. Even if you go to google.

      They can say all they want about how it happened, but the fact is, it happened. They're getting results directly as a result of google returning them. There's no two ways about this. Its true, its a voluntary act of certain customers, but that doesn't change that Bing is utilizing Google's results.

      Part of the nature of the internet is going to be that there wi
      • by arose (644256)

        Part of the nature of the internet is going to be that there will be feedback loops amongst page ranking, but this is a little too direct.

        You could have said the same thing back when googlebombing was a common occurrence.

        But Google has said that they do not track browsing history in this manner time and again.

        Well, no. They just keep an unanonymized (not that I think the anonymization is effective) search history if you are logged into gmail and haven't opted out and track your surfing through their ad ne

      • by Trelane (16124)
        it's not just IE, though it's the one currently involved. You need to read what your software vendor reserves the right to do, particularly in the realm of installing code without your knowledge or (further) consent and spying. It'll still be interesting to see the anti-Google Microsofties keep up the refrain of Google spies on you, so use Microsoft instead.
      • "The moral of this story is: if you use IE, then your information is being passed to Microsoft and being used. Even if you go to Google. "

        I view this as a much more sinister part of the whole event. Whether or not IE is terrible at displaying pages is amusing, but except at that whole lock-in level, not worrisome. However if IE is actively siphoning off any kind of intelligent data, then it raises specters of worse data snooping breaches.

    • Click fraud is a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click
      online advertising when a person clicks on an ad, for the purpose of
      generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link. Use of a computer to commit this type of Internet fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions.

      So, not using Adblock is a crime? I mean, I consider advertising an immoral practice and I have never purchased anything I saw in an ad, and would never do that in the future. Then if some obno

      • by Trelane (16124)
        I don't follow your argument. You have to be either a person (e.g. the click farms) or a script (pretty clear) simulating being an interested person clicking on an ad with the aim of causing the website owner to get paid by the advertising company in order for it to be click fraud.
    • by kellyb9 (954229)
      Its also quite arguably libelous claiming or inferring that a competitor is stealing your product. If they actually believe this to be true, why not launch an actual lawsuit. God knows companies love to use their lawyers. Otherwise, I'd just call it competition, and if MS happens to have a better product, Google should be nervous of them.
      • by Trelane (16124)
        > quite arguably libelous claiming or inferring that a competitor is stealing your product. Perhaps, but the > If they actually believe this to be true, why not launch an actual lawsuit. Umm, this is true of so many things. And also completely irrelevant to "Microsoft is spying on (some set of) IE users." > Otherwise, I'd just call it competition Currently, the argument you're trying to present, "Microsoft copying Google's search results is just competition" is orthogonal to the discussion I'm
  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:26AM (#35090502) Homepage Journal
    If, he hasnt used 'period' and 'full stop' and created enough dramatic pause, i wouldnt have believed him.

    but now, i believe him, despite bing has been caught red handed, denied it without showing ANY proof, and then went on to accuse google of something totally irrelevant.
    • by Wolvenhaven (1521217) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:46AM (#35090758) Homepage
      "We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop."

      The original draft
      "We do not copy results from any of our competitors..."
      • The second draft had:
        "We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop."
        And then the article actually stopped.
    • In fairness, how should they prove that Google's accusations are false? This is the same reason that innocence should be considered the default conclusion until guilt is proven, because it may not be possible to prove one's innocence.

      What's really needed here is an impartial, verifiable, third-party confirmation or refutation of Google's test results. Of course, if Microsoft really was scraping Bing Bar users' Google searches before, they may stop now, making third-party results inconclusive at best.

  • I can't think of a single thing Microsoft has done that was an original idea. Their entire business model seems to be "wait until someone establishes dominance in a marketplace, realize that marketplace could be profitable, put up a shitty copy of the dominant model and improve it just enough that people will use it because it's the default option leveraged with other Microsoft technologies." Well that and managing to install a tax on every computer built today. So yeah, this story is entirely plausible to
    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      Even though your post is flamebait, isn't the market dominated by companies trying to "1-up" their competators? If that sort of competition didn't happen, who knows what our technology level would be right now.

      Tell me one completely unique idea Google or Apple has had and I bet someone can provide "prior art" which Google and/or Apple simply improved on.
    • I can't think of a single thing Microsoft has done that was an original idea.

      That's because there's no such thing as an original idea. There are ways of doing things better, cheaper, faster, or differently, but there are very truly original ideas.

      Just look at iPod, iPhone, iPad. All derivative, but completely successful anyway. Even multitouch in the original iPhone is not original, straight down to the gestures. Google wasn't the first to do search and they won't be the last.

      I mean, even if I were to release a hover car or anti gravity device, or even a freaking time machine it wou

  • MS-BS as usual (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oGMo (379) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:33AM (#35090568)

    This response is the usual BS handwaving from MS. There's a single paragraph which says essentially "er... they do click fraud!" without any real technical details or explanation. This is quite different from Google's posts, which are all very detailed about what they're doing and the results they're seeing. The rest of MS's article is marketing history ... not once is there real explanation of how they happen to have extremely obscure words pulling results for exactly what Google does. Just spin.

    Thanks for trying, MS. You can't even come up with a technical response, and you want us to believe you can come up with a search engine?

  • by tzhuge (1031302) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:33AM (#35090576)

    Ok, I'm quite irked by this story, and I got modded troll a bunch of times by trying to point out that Google's experiment doesn't really support their accusation. I know some people will immediately label me a shill or apologist just for having a different opinion. What's stupid is I use Google search, and never Bing.

    Anyways, the following is my understanding and some opinion. The secret knowledge of the search engine is the association of a search term and a result (usually a url). So to say that Bing is copying (I think 'cheating' might have the what was used, but copying is a lot of people's interpretation), implies they are acquiring Google's association data; conversely if the Bing search comes to the same result coincidentally, then they can't be 'cheating'. It wouldn't be that surprising if two search engines return same results for certain words. However, Google did their sting with fake terms... so obviously Bing is copying right?

    So let's talk about their sting. They created (100?) honeypot search terms where a fake word would return a real link 'sss4yxyxy -> returns www.myresult.com'. Then they had 20 employees using IE and Bing toolbar w/ Google search and kept using these fake terms, then clicking the resulting link. Some time later, some of these fake terms return the same results on Bing.

    A few things: Google employees opted into tracking w/ the Bing toolbar. (This is somewhat beside the point anyways, since Google isn't exactly in a position to point the finger about tracking.) Note that my understanding is that few of the (100?) honeypot terms actually worked on Bing.

    The explanation from MS is that the Google employees gamed their user tracking mechanism to produce a result which makes it appear as if Bing is 'copying' Google. Basically they tracked the user search term, then the link they clicked through, and used this as part of the data for Bing. Google successfully gamed this because those terms are fake, and therefore the only data about them came from the sting.

    So my opinion is that this isn't copying. If 100 of 100 honeypots showed up on Bing then that would support their accusation better. If their 20 employees only used Google normally from IE, without going through the toolbar, then that would strengthen the case. Without these, I have a hard time understanding how even the people at Google have rationalized their own accusation. Now maybe MS is lying and I'm a chump, but at least I'm taking the time to consider the evidence as presented.

    • by tzhuge (1031302)

      Just want to add one thought experiment that hopefully illustrates my point:

      Let's say Google did their same sting, but their employees always clicked the 5th result down instead of the top one. Then, if MS isn't lying, that could mean the 5th result shows up on Bing search. Consider that if these were real search terms, that would actually mean that Bing is providing the more useful result. So... how does a person copying provide a better answer deterministically if all that person is doing is copying?

    • So to say that Bing is copying (I think 'cheating' might have the what was used, but copying is a lot of people's interpretation), implies they are acquiring Google's association data; conversely if the Bing search comes to the same result coincidentally, then they can't be 'cheating'.

      To quote an above comment:

      The fact that microsoft technology has advanced to the point of linking

      "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" to a Credit Union website

      is simply showing how well they understand their potential customers, and has nothing to do with the fact that Google set them up at all.

      They are exactly acquiring association data on Google because there's no way that result would be coincidental. Google is the only thing linking that search result to that term, there's no heuristic that makes sense to link the two other than that. Bing doesn't have Google's heuristics; they simply copy the end result.

      • by tzhuge (1031302) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @12:18PM (#35091192)

        Sigh... they are acquiring association data from the tracked users. These fake users entered 'delhipublicschool40 chdjob' into the Bing search bar, then clicked on a link to 'a Credit Union website'. If they were copying directly from Google, then 100% of honeypot search terms should have worked...

        It's not like that explanation even makes MS look good per se, but I'm almost guaranteed to get modded down again.

        • No...that's incorrect. The fake users didn't enter 'delhipublicschool40 chdjob' into the Bing search bar. That would have initially returned zero results, and therefore nothing to 'click'.

          Instead, they entered 'delhipublicschool40 chdjob' into the Google search page in a browser that happened to have the Bing search bar installed. The Bing search bar code then harvested the search term and any links clicked.

          Sorry, but that's copying, and fundamentally no different than having Microsoft employees
          • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @03:35PM (#35094200)

            Let me ask you this:

            Let's say you visit a government information website, which has its own search engine completely disconnected with Google/Bing/Yahoo/etc. No data sharing at all, but the website is publicly available.

            You put in a search term trying to find an application for a Foobar. (You search "foobar application", then click the resulting link "apply for a foobar".)

            The Bing toolbar looks at the action you just took, and enters it into its database. When a certain number of people (say, 20, the number Google used) do the same search and click the same result, Bing thinks to itself, "well, this search and resulting link is pretty popular-- I should add that to my index."

            Now in the future, the public can search the Foobar website to find the application directly from their browser's toolbar, instead of having to go to the Foobar website first. Bing's more useful to users, and Foobar's website is more useful to users.

            Do you believe what Bing is doing in this scenario wrong?

            • by spitzak (4019)

              You are saying the the Bing toolbar sucessfully recognizes this government search page as a search and realizes which field is the search term? And recognized which click the user did subsequently as the actual link to the searched item, rather than ads, next page, new search, etc? And their AI was designed to figure this out without somebody at Bing ever looking at this page? And those writers did not design this algorithm to specifically recognize Google's search pages?

              Also I find it pretty amazing that t

  • by thsths (31372) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:35AM (#35090598)

    "We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop."

    That is funny, because you have just been *caught* copying results from your competitor. Period. Full stop. No chance this was a coincidence.

    Now you seem to think because you copy it from Google result page in the users browser, and not from Google directly, you are not copying Google. But clearly you are. The user is "authorised" to use Google search results, after all that is the whole point of the search engine. You are not.

    And I think this attitude is a shame, because some of the technologies from MS are actually pretty decent. Just search engine technology does not seem to be among those.

  • When I hear these declarations, for some reason I also hear two echoes in my mind:

    - "Read my lips, no more taxes"
    - "I did not had sexual relations with that woman..."
  • Feigned outrage at "click fraud" aside, he agreed with Google.

    In fact, he said Google was right on the money.

    To be clear, they both agree on Microsoft's actions, but not on the meaning of it. Microsoft's use of anonymized click data meant that they observed the results that people were clicking on for these unusual searches. They also both agree that this is just one of many items Microsoft uses to determine relevance. Google even agrees that this isn't so much intentional copying, but an effect of the u
  • by bjourne (1034822) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:39AM (#35090650) Homepage Journal
    Google has a long history of aggregating data it "borrowed" from other sources. First google news where they used slugs from newspapers to populate their pages. Then google books in which they made books available despite the publishers protests. Why someone shouldn't be allowed to use googles data, when they themselves have built their entire fortune on borrowing others data, is hypocrisy.
    • by Kensai7 (1005287)

      Please don't accuse my of trolling, but I somehow agree with parent here.

      Moreover, apart from the fun of it, and I admit there's a lot to be made, is there an inherent reason to always condemn Microsoft and absolve Google and the rest? Both/all of them are for profit corporations and of course I don't buy the do-not-evil shit. At least, not 100%. My guess is that both companies tried their best to maximize the efficiency of their results with all means possible. No foul game here.

      Enough already with all Mic

  • If gibberish words are turning up the same artificial results then clearly their toolbar is scraping results from the browser. How can they even deny it?

    I suppose they should be glad Google just outed them rather than using this surreptitious sniffer to salt Bing's search results with a bunch of crap results.

  • Google = About + Terms of Service

    Bing = Legal

    Maybe Bing doesn't go two levels deep? :-)
  • Diversion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @11:59AM (#35090954)

    We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop.

    Parsing that carefully, that is not what Microsoft was accused of. So, in effect, Microsoft is saying that they did not do something that they were not accused of.

    It's Microsoft's typical tactic, try to move the discussion over to a slightly different topic when Microsoft is caught with its hand in the cookie jar.

    More disturbing for me during this whole mess is the fact that Microsoft is capturing my mouse clicks and visited links when I am using the browser, and sending that captured data back to Microsoft.

    • by Magada (741361)

      Did you somehow expect them not to do that, although they explicitly state they will, in their EULA?

  • says the cookie crumb covered child.

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday February 03, 2011 @12:19PM (#35091204)

    If I have allowed Microsoft to examine my 'click stream' for the purpose of 'search optimization', what stops them with Google? What if they start snooping around with transactions between myself and my on-line stock broker? Could they conceivably front run my purchase decisions (or sell that data to high speed traders [slashdot.org])?

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