[extropy-chat] Google Sets

Brent Neal brentn at freeshell.org
Thu Jul 8 19:20:27 UTC 2004

 (7/8/04 11:28) Mike Lorrey <mlorrey at yahoo.com> wrote:

>No, but google editors have significant input on high value content (or
>lack of it). The fact that the FSP has seven times more linked content
>in the google database than ExI but non-existent google sets indicates
>that some factor outside of statistics is involved, especially
>considering the very heavy traffic that FSP content actually receives
>(the FSP Yabb forum with 2872 registered members currently, receives
>hits ranging from 100k-500k per month over the last year, and currently
>ranges from 8k-21k hits per day)

1) 7 times an infinitesimally small number is still infinitesimally small number.
2) Traffic is not what Google cares about. If you get 100k hits a month from people involved with your organization, then you are still a null value to Google's PageRank algorithm. 
3) Considering that Google Sets is beta (hence the "labs.google.com" address),  it is not unreasonable to assume that the algorithm they use to find co-occurences in their database is somewhat primitive and perhaps subtly broken. Occam's Razor suggests that this is a more reasonable explanation that a conspiracy.

>Considering that the Democratic Party here in NH has declared war on
>the FSP already (they are quite desperate if they see us as a threat at
>this point), to the point that one regional vice-chair is quoted saying
>"The FSP must be destroyed at any cost." It logically follows,
>statistically speaking, that it is likely 1/3 or more of Google editors
>are registered Democrats.

While it certainly would be flattering for the FSP if there were a conspiracy, I would seriously doubt that the California Democrats care.  Just as an academic exercise, after your last response to my email, I asked a highly biased and unscientific sample of NC "Progressive" Democrats if they knew what the Free State Project was.  Thus far, zero out of roughly 25 people have responded in the affirmative. Certainly, the NC Democratic party couldn't care less what has gotten your Democratic regional vice-chair's panties in a twist. (They're much more concerned about the fact that the Kucinich/Dean folks are hell-bent and determined to "reshape" the NC party.)

I assume you have been involved with the Libertarian party, which tends to have fairly good cooperation between the state organizations. I can assure you that the Democratic party has very little of that in general. Your NH Democratic vice-chair may know a few equivalently-levelled folks in nearby states, but to assume that he or she can call out a national jihad, bringing shadowy and murky forces to bear on your organization is, frankly, just a little silly.

Finally, though Google plays its cards fairly close to the chest in this regard, I'm pretty confident that a "Google editor" is a non-existent thing. Google's whole raison d'etre was to find algorithmic ways to classify relevance. Hiring folks to edit the algorithm's results would not be congruent with what we've seen of Google's strategy. They are more likely to hire people to tweak the algorithms or to develop new ones, as has been amply demonstrated by their past responses to perceived or real deficiencies in PageRank. Further, I can't see any smart businessman devoting that kind of manpower to what is at this point a skunkworks project.


Brent Neal
Geek of all Trades

"Specialization is for insects" -- Robert A. Heinlein

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