There are always lawsuits against big targets, and initially the suit filed by KinderStart against Google, in which the parenting site/vertical search engine complained that it’s ranking has been intentionally lowered, felt like a nuisance and nothing more. But sometimes interesting things come out of these complaints.
I was reading last Friday’s Cnet coverage, for instance, and a Google lawyer was explaining Google’s ranking. OK, well, I know enough about that to notice when things are being spun, and the spin was clearly on. Because it suited the defense, the lawyer decided to argue that Google’s index was subjective – ie, that Google made editorial decisions about each site’s quality.
Now, that strikes me as a bit askew from public perception, and from what Google encourages us to think, in general, about how it ranks. Here’s how Cnet covered it:
David Kramer, a Wilson Sonsini attorney also representing Google, said the search giant’s PageRank system is subjective, using a combination of reviews into whether a Web site is adhering to its guidelines and is worth a user’s time to view.
“Google is constantly evaluating Web sites for standards and quality, which is entirely subjective,” Kramer said.
The judge probed Kramer on the topic of whether Google engages in misleading behavior, and whether it uses objective criteria to evaluate sites–rather than solely relying on subjective reasoning.
“What if, say, Google says it uses facts one through 10 to evaluate a site, but actually uses number 11 to decide its rank. Isn’t that misleading?” the judge asked.
Kramer, however, said Google readers understand that the site’s ranking system is subjective and based on Google’s opinion about whether a site is worth viewing.
Google’s opinion? Really? Huh. That’s a new one. More on this as I grok it.