Friday, June 29, 2007

Search-term Polarity

Via Farber's "Interesting People" list: Lauren Weinstein has a nice discussion of a well-known bug or feature of Google's ranking method - namely, if you search for "Jew" the top-ranked page is, well, sort of uncomplimentary to us Members of the Tribe. Google's analysis is that "Jew" is used more in an "anti-Semitic context".

Lauren's comments here are interesting, and raise some nice questions. If my search term indicates I'm an anti-Semite, should I get a page that's ranked highly by other anti-Semites, or one that's ranked highly by the (hopefully) larger general community? What if my search term indicates I'm a creationist? a disbeliever in global warming? arguably there's a continuum between Google-bombing (ie, manipulation of search results by a small group) and just exploiting linguistic regularities of a subcommunity to give better search results.