University students don't question Google

Students trust Google rankings

University students may be encouraged to be critical but they don't seem to question Google's ranking system, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

The experiment involved 22 undergraduate students (with various majors) from Cornell University, USA. It found that overall, the students had an inherent trust in Google's ability to rank results by their true relevance to the query.

"When participants selected a link from Google's result pages, their decisions were strongly biased towards links higher in position, even if that content was less relevant to the search query," states the report.

"Despite the popularity of search engines, most users are not aware of how they work and know little about the implications of their algorithms," said study author Bing Pan.

The report authors suggest this has serious long-term implications.

"Combining users' proclivity to trust ranked results with Google's algorithm increases the chances that those 'already rich' by virtue of nepotism get 'filthy rich' by virtue of robotic searchers. Smaller, less affluent, alternative sites are doubly punished by ranking algorithms and lethargic searchers," the report concludes.

The authors suggest that more effort could be made by search engine developers to provide users with information on how the algorithms function, and that this, in turn, could help to raise user awareness.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dahna McConnachie

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?