Google is doing a lot of things right with search. They have implemented universal search, returning images, videos, and maps as well as traditional websites from search strings. They have added website quick links to search results so that users can navigate to sub-pages faster. They have spent millions of dollars on optimizing their search algorithms to return the best results they can from search terms.
But with all the good they are bringing to search there has always been a problem I have with the one thing that made them so successful early in their existence. And that is the premise that high search engine rankings are, in part, a popularity contest. A reputations system might be a more accurate term. The higher reputation a website has, in terms of other websites linking to it, they higher it is placed on the search results page. While there is nothing inherently wrong with reputation systems (after all they are just tools), it continues to perpetuate misinformation in the form of highly reputed content that does not deserve to be.
Take, for instance, a search for "Barack Obama Chrysler bankruptcy". One of the first news stories is from CBS. It stated that:
Mr. Obama praised the sacrifices made by the autoworkers' union and the majority debtholders, whose concessions gave officials hope that Chrysler would be able to restructure without filing for Chapter 11. But the small hedge funds who hold 30 percent of Chrysler's outstanding debt held out for "an unjustified taxpayer bailout," according to the president.Leaving aside CBS's lack of accurate reporting of the facts. Consider that most American's that want to research this issue is presented with these types of articles.
The next few highest search offer similar titles:
Obama Blasts Hedge Funds Over Chrysler Bankruptcy Holdout
Obama Points to New Villain in Chrysler Bankruptcy: Hedge Funds ...
Not one article in the top ten seriously questioned Obama's role in the bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law has a long history in the U.S. Never, to my knowledge, has a sitting president played such an active role in a bankruptcy proceeding. Regardless of the motivation you may input upon Obama, the truth is, the only reason he would become involved in the process is if he wanted the outcome to be different than the rule of law would suggest. Articles, such as this one at the Ayn Rand Center or this one at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required to view the article), show how the perversion of bankruptcy law is being sold to the general media.
Google search based largely on reputation misses these important links.