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Christ searching the internet is bad

It doesn't matter what search engine you use, all the results are just Bad now

I can search for table saw crosscut sled construction tips and there'll be a listicle with the number 2021 in the FIRST PAGE of results, copied from another site and with the year changed? And it's like that with anything you search? How is this useful?

Librarians, can you please resurrect human-curated web directories when you get a minute, thx <3

· · SubwayTooter · 17 · 49 · 77

A particular annoyance in search results: the "top ten (searchquery) (currentyear)" page which at first glance looks like a review and comparison of ten different (searchquery) (let's say table saws) and it's not until you're halfway down the page until you realise that the person who wrote this has never used these table saws, never seen these table saws, and has probably never used ANY table saw, they're just rewriting stuff they read on Wikipedia and Amazon reviews.

Now to a human with some passing familiarity with table saws, this is an obviously fake spammy article that someone's paid someone on Fiverr to knock together just to con the search engines out of some advertising money - but a human didn't decide where to place that crap in the search results, a computer program did, and computers don't know what table saws are.

You'll find these pages for any product. They're more prevalent than actual reviews.

Bring back DMOZ, that's what I bloody say.

Worse than what search engines are doing to the internet is what they're doing to our heads. A non-trivial number of people think that skimming the crap that floats to the top of search engine results pages is as good as asking someone who actually knows what they're talking about, and THEY WILL REPEAT THIS INFORMATION-SHAPED MATERIAL AS THOUGH IT WERE ACTUAL INFORMATION.

Lemme give you an example.

A few months back, after having searched for decent ios XMPP clients and come up empty, I asked on here if anyone had any recommendations. This has worked for me in the past; if you cast a wide net and say "boosts welcome" and ask actual people, sooner or later your question will be seen by someone who's familiar with the subject and has more experience of it than you do.

So, I asked, and within a couple of minutes a guy replied saying try (whatever the software was I can't remember)

The software he recommended was a program my friend had tried already and hadn't gotten far with it, so I replied to the guy asking what he liked about it and he replied back saying he'd never used it.

Yup, he'd just Googled it. Alright, that's annoying and unhelpful, write the guy off as a timewasting dipshit and move on, but *I expected him to know what he was talking about.* He presented himself in a context where it would be natural for me to assume he had some experience.

And now that I've had that experience, I find myself having to say not "Hey, can someone recommend an XMPP client for iphones," but "Hey, can someone recommend an XMPP client for iphones THAT YOU HAVE PERSONALLY USED," and that's a caveat that should not be necessary. That should be obvious.

We've grown so used to having information-like-material at our fingertips that we think we can become an authority at something in seconds, and all that's happened is people repeat nonsense.

If you don't know anything about a subject and someone asks you about it, the best thing to do is either say "I don't know" or keep your gob shut, because any opinion you present will be, in the *absolute* best-case scenario, worthless.

Computer programs (or, if you're a journalist, "algorithms") don't actually know anything about anything, they're just mouthy digital dickheads who'll serve up something they think looks like information. They don't even know what information IS.

(my credentials for talking about mouthy dickheads as though I'm an expert: I've run a web game for twelve years and teched pinball tournaments for five. I know every kind of dickhead there is. I'm a dickheadologist.)

@ifixcoinops

I know this is a shit non-solution but millionshort allows you to take out the largest websites (twitter, facebook, pinterest etc) from google search results and in doing so improves the experience marginally

millionshort.com/

@Alonealastalovedalongthe Removing no sites put "Top 10 best cross cut sled reviews of 2021 best for consumer" at 9th position, removing sites just bumped it higher up the rankings.

I think the problem here is both that twenty-odd big websites dominate internet traffic AND that Google is shit :P

@ifixcoinops

Yah definitely :(

I also used to try to put "forum" into searches to hopefully get forum post results since they tended to have more content but smaller forums seem to be an endangered species too

@ifixcoinops god, those were a thing at one point? society needs those badly

@snailerotica I've been on the internet long enough to remember when you HAD to get your site in DMOZ if you wanted good search engine rankings.

In my table saw example there'd be a guy who took care of the table saw info section and decided what webpages would make it in or not, and he actually owned a table saw and know how to use one.

@ifixcoinops I literally misread the very first sentence due to a missing comma and my mind went on a brief but fun adventure.

@ifixcoinops

I'd love it if there was a way to filter out search results that have Amazon affiliate links...

is it just me or are they really creeping up on DDG lately?

@ifixcoinops it's such a broad field of study, and yet somehow one which is self-similar at nearly every level...

@ifixcoinops

> If you don't know anything about a subject and someone asks you about it, the best thing to do is either say "I don't know" or keep your gob shut

"that would be an ecumenical matter."

@ifixcoinops My favorite experience along these lines was when I told someone that I was into harsh industrial noise music and he said "Oh, I know a band you might like. Ever hear of Evanescence?"

@sinvega Remember link mold? Sites that used to contain useful information until the domain expired and got bought up by someone else, and now it's just one page of five or six adsense links and the title "What you need, when you need it."

Those were an IMPROVEMENT over what we've got now. You could at least recognize them and click away instantly.

@ifixcoinops I blame wirecutter for this, they would spend thousands of hours testing every smart bulb or overhead luggage or whatever and people would hit the page and say, well I can’t trust this shit it was written like 9 months ago, and so they chose the laziest way to circumvent that by making tiny updates and slapping a new year on that title, and everyone else followed suit, and then the spammers followed suit

@ifixcoinops @sinvega 2021 mood: AOL and Yahoo! were good actually and Time Warner and Google (resp.) shouldn’t have killed them

@peemee @ifixcoinops unhelpful and pretty much doing what he said not to do. Ecosia is just Bing with a different front end.

@ifixcoinops This what happens when you have to create content for machines to evaluate. And Google has convinced the whole marketing industry it is necessary.

Think of all the “digital marketing” jobs that would be lost if we depended on human curation! /s

@ifixcoinops Your search engines have been optimized. You're welcome. Expect to be billed for the privilege.

@ifixcoinops human curated web directories? You mean the citations part of a Wikipedia page? :-P

@ifixcoinops
Yes, but Christ searching through your browser history is even worse ;)

@ifixcoinops this whole thread is a big mood. Even though I'm pretty good at searching it's still just super frustrating.

Related/unrelated several senior members of my current department were part of that early attempt to catalog the web and their reflections are about what you'd expect -- overwhelming

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