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Publisher Whining Prompts Italian Investigation of Google 91

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the sounds-like-pure-unadulterated-greed-to-me dept.
Complaints about "lack of transparency" from publishers have prompted Italian competition authorities to begin an investigation of Google's search and news services. I'm sure their motives are completely altruistic. "Because Google does not disclose the criteria for ranking news articles or search results, he said, newspapers are unable to hone their content to try to earn more revenue from online advertising. Ad revenue on the Web is directly proportional to the size of the audience, which is heavily influenced by search or Google News rankings."
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Publisher Whining Prompts Italian Investigation of Google

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  • Give me a break. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:36PM (#29235037)

    Google provides a service. If you don't like their service, go use something else. Or better yet, build your own damn search and aggregation engine.

  • Uh-huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by G33kGuy (1152863) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:37PM (#29235063) Homepage
    "Because Google does not disclose the criteria for ranking news articles or search results, he said, newspapers are unable to hone their content to try to earn more revenue from online advertising." As in, they want to change their pages to artificially inflate their page rank, regardless of relevance to what people are searching for.
  • Quid pro quo... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['nga' in gap]> on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:38PM (#29235067) Homepage Journal

    Are the newspapers going to provide similar transparency for the coverage they provide local businesses?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:41PM (#29235103)

    To relate the facts surrounding each news story in the best way possible. After a while, people will seek them out.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:41PM (#29235105)

    newspapers are unable to hone their content to try to earn more revenue from online advertising.

    This is exactly the way it should be. You shouldn't write news in order to garner more ad revenue. By keeping this secret, Google is doing it's part to protect the integrity of those hacks who would alter the news -- otherwise known as Selling Out -- to be whatever paid the best. When that happens then we've all lost -- including the newspapers that will become nothing more than the new Tabloid Press.

  • Re:SEO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:42PM (#29235113) Journal
    This seems to be the SEO scumbags, demanding that the state step in to make their jobs easier.
  • That's the point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:43PM (#29235133)

    "Because Google does not disclose the criteria for ranking news articles or search results, he said, newspapers are unable to hone their content to try to earn more revenue from online advertising."

    This is exactly why Google will never disclose their raking criteria. The last thing they want is for people to 'hone' their content to drive per-site revenue. It's bad enough they have to worry about SEO companies trying to game the system. Exposing the ranking system would effectively invalidate it. You go down that path and people stop trusting the neutrality of the search engine. At which point Google might as well close up shop as an untrusted search engine is an unused search engine. Just ask Microsoft.

  • by Shagg (99693) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:45PM (#29235149)

    Yeah, how dare Google hide the rules so that they can't "game" the system. I'm surprised the newspapers could even complain about it with a straight face.

  • by 101010_or_0x2A (1001372) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:48PM (#29235203)
    it is a free web based service. they are not required to publish anything regarding their algorithm, let alone making it understandable by non CS folk. Google search does not ship with any OS, nor does it insert itself as the default search engine, browsers do that. If people dont like it, use Bing or whatever. The argument of * most people *choose* to use Google, they need not * therefore Google must supply all necessary informtion that we ask of them so that we can tune our product to rank higher makes no sense, and I wonder if any law can uphold this. The "Italian competition authorities" will have a tough time justifying how a free service with no coersion of any sort to force a user to use their product can be anti-competitive
  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:56PM (#29235319) Journal

    Google ranks pages based on what people are searching for. The obvious way to get pagehits from Google is to, ahem, write news that people are interested in.

    Anything else and you're just trying to game the system.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:57PM (#29235327) Homepage Journal

    "Mr. Malinconico said that in addition to the complaint against Google, the federation was also looking at other measures to try to generate more revenue from the Web"

    I'll translate that from Italian.

    "We don't think people should make money unless they share it with us, despite the fact that we have nothing to offer that anybody wants to see."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:10PM (#29235499)

    I don't know; if the newspaper's purpose is to make money and they are able to maximize their money making ability, then it sounds like a win for them. Do papers print tabloid stories because people want them or do people want papers because they print tabloid stories? If you don't print these stories, less people buy your paper and you go under. If you do print these stories, you are a sell out but you survive. I think when push comes to shove most people will choose survival.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:19PM (#29235615)

    So what you're saying is that newspapers should write the things that people want to read?

    Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.

    Source [google.com]

    I don't know how much more succinctly Google can state that.

  • Italian politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mollog (841386) on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:31PM (#29235721)
    A big difference between Italian politics and American politics is that the corruption and self-interest is much more transparent in Italy. They aren't ashamed of it, it's part of the human condition. Only in America do a people believe that there is something akin to morality in the operation of government.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday August 28, 2009 @04:58PM (#29236051)

    Only in America do a people believe that there is something akin to morality in the operation of government.

    I don't think that's true in either direction. First, a great deal of Americans don't believe there is anything akin to morality in the operation of government, whether they're left-wingers who think the government is the tool of imperialist-capitalist interests, conservatives who think the government is spreading hedonism and immorality via the public schools, or libertarians who don't like any operation of government at all.

    And on the flip side, a good many Europeans expect there to be something akin to morality in the operation of government. Italy is not representative of most of Europe, and places like Sweden have very different expectations from their government, which are more positive on the whole, even if there is still plenty of cynicism about politicians.

  • by mollog (841386) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:08PM (#29236153)
    "...an untrusted search engine is an unused search engine. Just ask Microsoft."

    LOL, I was already thinking of Microsoft's failures while reading your response when I read that line. Too funny.

    I think this might turn out to be why Microsoft will never be competitive with Google; the whole trust thing. Even if a person or company does not have any history with Microsoft, they'll quickly come to realize that you have to pay to play with Microsoft. And there goes credibility.
  • by rawr_one (1474675) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:45PM (#29236621) Homepage

    I suspect this to be a consequence of Google's PageRank algorithm itself, though. Or, at least, part of it. The part that makes links from high PageRank sites bump up your own PageRank, specifically. You can't expect to demand Google (a site with high PageRank) to not link to your content and expect your PageRank to stay the same.

    What they want is for Google to boost their PageRank to where it would be with the Google linklove, without wanting Google's linklove. Which seems like a perfectly unreasonable demand to me.

  • Honing Content? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Friday August 28, 2009 @05:56PM (#29236769)
    I guess "Honing Content" is doublespeak for "gaming the system" which means it just raises the bar so that smaller publishers won't be as visible. I guess these publishers are upset because they're on equal footing. What customers want is a product without all the marketing, but what these greedy entities are trying to do is make a lot of marketing with no product.

    What is the compromise? Do we come up with a standard way of ranking that can be exploited much faster than we can update the standard to prevent this? I think here, the product that Google is giving customers is the method that they are aggregating content. Perhaps these publishers would be better off going to a competitor, but if customers don't prefer the competitor's method of aggregating content, they will come back to Google, which is a sign that Google is doing things right.

    I don't think publishers should have a say on the method that Google presents its index, because Google does not have a monopoly on indexes. I think they are just targeting Google because it is popular (and not by any anti-competitive practices, correct me if I'm wrong), and they are not able to increase their ROI without unfairly gaining an advantage. These publishers really do seem to be whining.
  • In other words... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:00PM (#29236825)

    In other words, "We're not able to exploit your algorithms to manipulate our search ranking in ways that don't relate to the actual content of our news articles. We want to appear higher on the rankings even though our articles have no content. Therefore we demand you release the details of your proprietary algorithms so that we can more easily manipulate them to gain an unfair advantage." Does that about sum it up?

  • by B4D BE4T (879239) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:16PM (#29237027)

    The newspapers are using Google as free advertising for their websites. If they want a higher spot on search results, they can always pay Google for it.

  • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:49PM (#29237413)
    Microsoft provides an office suite. If you don't like their office suite, go use something else. Or better yet, build your own dam search and aggregation engine.

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