Register Refutations…

04/12/2003

A week or so ago I wrote a little post called Oh Self-Correcting Blogosphere. It was about an article at The Register in which Andrew Orlowski managed to mix a few half-facts with some general paranoia to assemble the spectre of a censorious and manipulative cabal of either webloggers or Google managers.

Orlowski’s gone off on another one this week – and this one’s considerably more ludicrous than the one before. This time – in the article Google washes Whiter – he’s protesting that his previous article has been hidden from people who search for the word “Googlewash” on the search engine:

“Google has made its own statement on the ‘Googlewash': by making The Register story that coined the phrase disappear from its search results. Not all the search results, mark you, but a very specific one. When you search for the word “Googlewash” (as at 9pm Pacific Time last night) around a hundred results are returned by default. Our story, which is where the word was coined, isn’t among them. We found it, eventually, but it was very difficult.”

The stunning problem with his hypothesis (which was – if you remember – that his article has been censored by Google) is that if you click on the very first link offered then you are immediately directed straight to the article in question. All that’s happened is that – for some presumably totally obvious reason – Metafilter’s article about Googlewashing gets higher prominence. Whether that’s because Metafilter has a higher page-rank and gets linked to more often generally or whether it’s because people linked to this particular discussion with more apposite keywords (like ‘Googlewash’ for example)- well I don’t know. What I do know is that if Google were trying to hide Orlowski’s ‘revelations’, then they’ve made a ludicrously bad hash of it. And if he were looking for censorship, perhaps he should be looking comparatively, since anyone with half a brain can find his article more easily through Google than via altavista or overture or alltheweb.