Sunday, May 6

Is Relevance Relevant?

Elizabeth van Couvering, a PhD student at the London School of Economics recently published a paper: Is Relevance Relevant? Market, Science, and War: Discourses of Search Engine Quality. From her abstract:
The evidence presented here suggests that resources in search engine development are overwhelmingly allocated on the basis of market factors or scientific/technological concerns. Fairness and representativeness, core elements of the journalists' definition of quality media content, are not key determiners of search engine quality in the minds of search engine producers. Rather, alternative standards of quality, such as customer satisfaction and relevance, mean that tactics to silence or promote certain websites or site owners (such as blacklisting, whitelisting, and index "cleaning") are seen as unproblematic.

There is good discussion of her article on John Battelle's post on the topic, including follow-up with Matt Cutts from Google and from Elizabeth herself.

Oshoma Momoh, formerly a GM of MSN Search, also commented on the article on his blog.

Ms. Couvering also previously published, Web Behavior: Search Engines in Context.

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