Some question Google's 'rookie mistakes' with SearchWiki

Tool for customizing on search results lacks opt-out option and raises privacy concerns

Google's new search customization tool, SearchWiki, has quickly generated criticism for its lack of an opt-out options and perceived privacy threats.

Google unveiled SearchWiki last week, saying that it would allow users signed into Google to change the ranking of personal search results. The tool also lets users delete or add comments to searches.

The comments are shared with other users and signed with a person's username, Google said. Re-ranked search results are only seen by the signed-in user and do not affect other people's results. Google contends that the tool makes searches more useful as users can benefit from community edits of search results.

Some bloggers quickly criticized the tool, while others have posted a script to disable it, thus returning search results to their original format.

TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington, for example lamented that the new feature allowed pornography spam to show up in the search results for the TechCrunch blog. "Cheers were heard across the Internet earlier [Saturday] when Google's new SearchWiki search interface inexplicably vanished," he blogged. "Perhaps, just maybe, it was gone for good. Or at least when it returned it would have an opt out feature."

The interface soon returned, however, prompting him to criticize the interface for allowing comments like the spam that "scar Google's once pristine search results page."

He linked to a script for users who "were unfortunate to accept it in the first place" to disable Search Wiki.

Google did not immediately respond to a Computerworld request for comment on the criticism of SearchWiki.

Dave Weinberger, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said that Google committed two rookie mistakes in the development of SearchWiki. "First, opting us in is obnoxious enough, but not giving us a way to opt out is unsupportable.," he added. "Where's the big 'No thanks' button?" Second, he added, the results page shows users the nicknames of others users who have voted a page up.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags google searchwiki

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?