Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I shifted from Google to Bing

I made the switch, in all of my browsers.  Bing is now the default search engine for me.  No, this isn't because of Google's long and sorry neglect of American patriotic holidays, although that's always been an annoyance.

It's because I don't trust the search results.

Ever wonder why Wikipedia comes up very high (top 5) results for just about any Google search?  Even for very obscure search terms, where the number of web sites discussing the term is so low as to make the statistical algorithm become unreliable?  Well, Google has a mechanism where they can manually tweak Wikipedia's score, raising it artificially (and arbitrarily).

Think about that.  What can get dialed up can also get dialed down, right?  So does Google selectively, artificially, and arbitrarily downgrade certain sites in the search rankings?


Consider the term "Global Warming".  You would think that this would lead you to the major climate science blogs.  Using Google, you'd think wrong.

The site Watts Up With That is probably the most important - and most visited - skeptic web site.  It gets what is simply enormous traffic: Alexa has it's rank in the top 16,000 web sites.  Think about that - less than 16,000 Internet sites get more traffic than this one does.  By way of contrast, I'm not quite in the top 800,000.

So where is in the Google rankings for the search term "Global Warming"?  Not on the first ten pages.  It may not be in the top twenty pages - I gave up looking.  Just to level set, a site called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is on page ten, ahead of wherever Google has wattsupwiththat.  OISM's Alexa ranking is higher than mine, meaning that I beat them for traffic.  And yet somehow, Google has them as a more authoritative source than wattsupwiththat.

Bing has on the second page of search results.  Lower than I'd put it, but plausible.

And so, I no longer trust Google to give me the best search results.  Even worse, I suspect (but cannot prove) that they have chosen to arbitrarily change results in pursuit of a political agenda, one that I do not share.  Like I said, I cannot prove this, but the fact that I wonder is all that matters.  I wonder, what other topics are unreliable?

It's exactly the same reason that I stopped reading the New York Times and listening to PBS: I developed the suspicion that they were poisoned sources of information, and that they were distorting my world view.  Were they?  It doesn't matter - once the suspicion forms, once trust is lost, there's simply no getting it back.

Essentially, I'm comfortable using Google for trivial searches of no import; for anything actually important, I can't afford to take the chance.  And so, hello, Bing.

In Internet Security terminology, this situation is called "Denial of Service via Resource Poisoning".  I don't know whether Google thought they could poison the resource, directing traffic away from  It's very hard to see how they could not have intended exactly this.  What they don't seem to realize is that they've poisoned their own resource.

So go ahead and keep being evil, Google.  You'll do it with one less user whose searches you'll no longer be able to sell.

A homework assignment for anyone so interested: compare what turns up for the search term "Gun Control".


KurtP said...


You mean Liberals would change things like rankings and history just to advance their agenda?

I can't believe it!

Anonymous said...

The joke, back when Bing debuted, was that the name itself stood for "But It's Not Google." They had a slow start, but, like you, I'm glad that they're around.

- scotaku

genedunn said...

BP: I thought Google uses a more "crowd source" type algorithm to compute search rankings. In your examples, I think Wikipedia shows up high because everyone who searches for that specific term chooses wikipedia as the link to visit. More people choose it, the higher it gets. Likewise, I am sure most people who search for "Global Warming" do not do so to go to skeptic web sites, explaining why WattsUp doesn't show up in the top 10. If you add "skeptic" on to your query, I think you would get better results.
Of course, I am not saying this is OK (honestly, I haven't designed a web search engine, so I have no idea what option is best), and I don't know how Bing ranks its hits. I'm just saying I doubt it was intentional politics by Google. Remember, this is the same engine that took a ton of flak over the Michelle Obama picture that was the top hit for a while (it has since declined since there are more pictures of her and the Streisand effect has subsided).

Chad said...

Interesting. On Google, the search for "gun control" shows the NRA on page one, with a higher rank than the Brady Campaign. On Bing, I don't see a link to the NRA anywhere in the first ten pages.

bluesun said...

In light of this how do you feel of Blogger vs Wordpress?

Ruth said...

I still use Google, Bing pissed me off pretty much from the getgo when I discovered adware/spyware isntalled on my computer from them way back when.

On the other hand I don't just use the first page or two of results either, I regularly work my way back through the pages, finding all sorts of tidbits.

Borepatch said...

genedunn, the crowdsource algorithm is supposed to measure incoming links. Wattsupwiththat gets huge numbers of these. Huge. As I said, I simply don't believe the results - I don't think they're credible, based on my own knowledge.

Now add in their ability to manually change rankings, and my suspicion meter is pegged.

Bluesun, it is a pain to move. Plus, it's hard to see how Blogger would poison what I write here. If it ever looks like someone is tweaking this (unlikely), I'd move in a heartbeat.

soulful sepulcher said...

Try or for a couple of new search engines that combine several, not stuck on Google...

The Czar of Muscovy said...

I like to use Bing for a different reason: simplicity. For whatever reason, Google hangs on my and crashes quite a bit, particularly in the image search area. Bing has yet to crash for me.

Still like Google for its maps, though. Streetview is slicker than snot when verifying an address or what an actual intersection looks like.

Daddy Hawk said...

Top 10 Gun Control results on Bing:
1) Wikipedia article - Gun Control
2) Brady Campaign -
3) wikipedia article - gun violence and gun control in Texas
4) wikipedia article - gun politics
5) - gun laws in Texas
6) - gun control
7) - Rick Perry's position on gun control (modified Weaver with an LCP I think)
8) - gun control
9) - gun control and second amendment
10) - gun control

Google Top 10 Results:
1) Wikipedia article - Gun Control
2) Wikipedia article - gun politics
3) - gun control
4) NRA
5) - gun control and second amendment
6) - gun control
8) - 40 reasons for gun control
10) - news and video on gun control

Not sure I trust either one now.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Have been using Bing as my search engine for a while now.
Also use Dogpile just because thats what most give you...

bluesun said...


I don't know about the pain to move bit. As I said I set up a wordpress account and after messing around with it for a couple hours got something that looks pretty good, mostly like my blogger blog. The only big thing holding me back besides momentum is your security comment. Probly not going to switch unless google forces its new blogger format down my throat, but I have the option.

Ken said...

I use DuckDuckGo, for a number of reasons.

Angus McThag said...

Way back when I switched a blogger I was reading said something to the effect of it was easier to trust MS's search engine because everyone will be watching them like a hawk.

Six said...

I switched to Bing a while back. I'm an acknowledged luddite so I can't talk about the tech why but google pissed me off a long time ago and I just don't do business with such as they.

TJP said...

The really cool thing about Bing is that it's super-fast because the chances that the six other people on Earth that use it are searching at the same time as you are very slim.

SiGraybeard said...

I switched from Google quite a while ago, long enough that I don't even remember. It was primarily due to them "being evil".

I tested them both on a handful of pages I knew about that wouldn't be really high traffic sites. Bing was better, but I'll admit that probably doesn't mean much. It probably just means that the people who make a living selling businesses on how to get on the first page on Google haven't spent as much time on Bing.

Anonymous said...

Oh ye of little memory in the last Presidential election they buried any negative stories about the one or simply did not list them. Then they bowed to Chinese. government pressure to remove sites they did not like.
However when your company motto is do no evil you know they are.