Someone is wrong on the Internet

Someone is wrong on the Internet

Matt Cutts of Google has an intriguing slip in his post, Something is wrong on the internet!. He is referring to this cartoon by xkcd.

Matt Cutts said something rather than someone. He went on to say:

That comic sums up the internet in one sentence: the scrum of jostling opinions on the web and the optimism that truth can still win out. I was reminded of that comic when someone asked me about a particular way that someone recently tried to get links.

His spam group is perhaps one key way human intervention comes into the Google search process. So his comments later in the post are particularly interesting.

If a website claims to have high-quality information and then deceives the user and serves up malware or off-topic porn, Google considers that spam and takes action on it. Likewise, if a site says that they completely made up a story to get links, Google doesn’t have to trust the links to that site as much.

I really don’t view Google’s role as judging the truthiness of the web. … But if someone is sloppy enough to get caught (or to admit!) making up a fake story, I don’t think Google has to blindly trust those links, either.

It sounds very much as though Google will be acting as the judge. This prompted me to add the following comment to his blog post.

This all seems to be shaking out as it should, Matt. It raised one question in my mind. You did say I don’t think Google has to blindly trust those links, either. I believe Google’s policy is to try to do everything in its search process by computer algorithms since this is scalable. Human intervention should therefore be very limited. Your spam group does that human intervention with an on/off button, I presume, as it applies to clear spam content.

I’m sure many would be interested to know how you treat websites you are no longer blindly trusting. Do you apply the off button for these with a reminder to check again in say six months? Or is it more like a volume control where you apply a down weighting factor? Or again, is it one of those minus X penalties in the SERPs that some talk about?

Since Google is now suggesting it will be more open than it has been in the past, I hope we will get some clarification on this.