Is Google the WADA of the web?

I love The New Yorker magazine. But I don’t always have time to read it every week. In last week’s issue I just found a good piece by James Surowiecki on Google. In it he writes:

Google’s efforts to keep its rankings honest have not always been popular. Some people who run Web sites that depend on the traffic that Google sends their way have accused the company of being capricious and unjust. There have even been calls from critics for it to be regulated as a public utility. But attacks on Google are shortsighted. Google is treating index spammers the way Olympic officials treat athletes who use steroids. Think of the Web as a track meet. When the other runners are juiced, it’s hard to keep up with them unless you are, too. Likewise, when people start cloaking or link-farming, those who wish to remain competitive have to consider doing so themselves. This winds up hurting everyone; if Web users think Google isn’t a clean game, eventually they’ll stop playing.

This is a pretty good analogy: Google is to spammers what Olympic officials are to dopers. Google draws lines for webmasters and WADA draws lines for athletes, both trying to make things more fair. But the analogy breaks down when you consider the structure of the organizations. WADA is an international agency with broad representation and a clearly defined public mission. Google is a for-profit American company. They’re a good company, with good ethics, but it’s like asking NBC TV do all the drug testing for the Olympics. It’s not out-and-out wrong, but neither does it seem quite right.

One Response to “Is Google the WADA of the web?”

  1. Not Hardly Says:

    Hopefully, Google management ethics and existing truth in advertising statutes will be enough to Google clean, with no further regulation necessary.

    In other news, Glasgow is very nice this time of year.

    Best,

    Dave Doolin
    doolin (a) ce berkeley edu–>

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