Oh Microsoft, just when we were starting to believe in this thing called Bing, you go messing with the search results.
Case in point: a search on Bing for the phrase, “Why is Windows so expensive?” returned this as the top link….
“Why are Macs so expensive.”
That’s right. You’re not hallucinating. That was the top response on Bing to a question about the price of Windows.
But it’s not just the top link. The rest of the links on the first search page don’t get much better. There is one link about the price of vinyl windows (actual windows that you look out), one on why Windows hosting providers are so expensive, and one about fish. The five other links on page one are about the expensive price of Macs. The Windows client OS is not even mentioned.
If Microsoft is going to resort to blocking and self-protection with their search engine, they could at least be subtle. This is about as subtle as a machine gun.
Type in the same phrase over at Google, and Google does its job: returns a long list of links about whether the Windows OS is expensive (though the link about vinyl windows was on Google too. Apparently, vinyl windows are all the rage).
There is evidence that Microsoft is aware of the Bing results shenanigans and has made adjustments. An article written two weeks ago on an Internet marketing site called out Bing for censoring search results. The article highlighted two phrases — “Why is Microsoft Word so expensive?” and “Is Microsoft Evil?” — that were bringing up censored results.
The first of the search results about the Microsoft Word question linked to a page about how expensive Manhattan is (Is Microsoft competing with Manhattan now?). The top responses to the “Is Microsoft Evil?” question were, get this, a link to a New York Times story about whether or not Google is considered evil, a link about proxy servers, and a link to a story about Microsoft being charitable. Wow.
But those results have magically changed. As of today (August 5) search results for these phrases actually seem uncensored. The random Manhattan link is still there, but it’s under three links about Microsoft Word. Not that the links are actually helpful, but open-ended questions are difficult in search engines. As for the “Is Microsoft Evil?” search, the Google story is now gone and all the current search results address the question at hand: “Is Microsoft Evil?”
Is Bing evil? Not yet. So far, I like its organized interface, but I’m finding its search results to be sloppy. Sloppy is one thing, but sloppy and censored? That’s when evil starts lurking. Keep it fair, Microsoft.
Monitor Bing yourself at this site that allows you to search on both Bing and Google simultaneously.
Update: In response to this story, a Microsoft spokesperson issued the following statement:
“The ranking of Bing’s results is done in an automated manner through algorithms, which can sometimes lead to unexpected results. Microsoft works to maintain the integrity of the results to ensure that they are not editorialized; results come from the algorithms, not from humans.
For example, if a site contains certain characters, words or phrases, that site may rank higher in a query for
those words or phrases. It demonstrates the dynamics of the Web and how engines like Bing must constantly be tuning in order to reflect the most relevant results for a given query.”
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