So now Yahoo! is the Bad Guy?

August 29, 2007

Most people (especially the ones that live inside the online sphere) perceive Google as the big-threatening-monster since it holds so many areas in the online world, but apparently Yahoo! is no better…

I’m talking about Yahoo! and its cooperating with the China government. This is the story of two Chinese journalists that got arrested (for 10 years in prison!!!) thanks to fact that Yahoo! handed over some information about their online writing to China authorities.
The two had filed a suit against Yahoo! in April but now Miss Y claims that “the case has no merit“.

Hope I won’t get arrested for saying this, but what the %$#@?
Who made Miss Y or any other search engine “the big brother” and how come no one had told me about it?

This reminds me of a very sweet movie I have seen not too long ago, called “red road”, in which the main actor works as a CCTV operator. She does a great job, protecting people by watching the streets using long distance cameras, but just as well, when the opportunity comes – she exploits it for her own interests.

I admit. I don’t think Yahoo! gets anything but bad reputation from its cooperation with the Chinese government, but still.
The web should be a neutral ground for people to walk on.
Otherwise they might limp or simply freeze, lock ourself at home, far away from the internet.

For additional related reading go to:
Internet Censorship in the People’s Republic of China
Google Censoring in China
Microsoft Takes down Chinese Blogger

Exclude this Exclusive Interview with Yahoo!…

February 3, 2007

Don’t want to hurt no one nor do I think myself as an expert in interviews, just felt the so-called exclusive interview with Larry Cornett of Yahoo! had so much words in it and yet  said nothing.
With all the respect, I think interviews that don’t say too much shouldn’t be fully quoted,
especially when the subject of the interview is “user experience”.
I really like “Search Engine Land”. I think they do a great job, but still, as far as I see it,
quoting this interview was absolutely dispensable.
Next time, please think of your readers and their “user-experience”and deliver some summary, something like this 
small collection of the Interview’s major highlights:

Yahoo! Approach
“We try to strike a balance between user experience and the needs of business as well as our advertising population. ”

Search Interface Changes
Are done both on the run and after great work.

Perceived Relevancy
“perceived relevance is actually the most important thing because, at the end of the day, that’s what the users are looking at and that’s what they walk away with. In terms of: Was my search relevant? Did I find what I was looking for?”

Top Sponsored Ads
Are much more emphasized by Yahoo! ( relative to Google and Live Search) and as far as Yahoo! claims, it answers the users-needs.
“Very often what they see in that sponsored section actually is a good fit for the type of query they are doing, especially if you look at a commercial query. ”
ho, yea, and another thing – Yahoo! is constantly testing this stuff, including eye tracking research, in order to understand the user experience.
Yahoo!: Is there a lower CTR in repeat visits? mmm… no comment.

Yahoo! Shortcuts on Vertical Results
Are working good: “You are absolutely right that those are very effective…A lot of that is based on the best end result, what the user is trying to find, and the more we can give them that information the better.”

Yahoo! monitors CTRs
for determining whether or not vertical results and top sponsored ads will appear for certain types of queries
… “We’re interested in tracking usage and so looking at the CTR, because we don’t want to be showing things that are not actually getting usage, so we do continually monitor the CTR and the Shortcuts.”

Yahoo! Uniqueness
“there is definitely a social aspect to Yahoo Search…”
see for example – Yahoo Answers.

User’s Experience and Launch Points
Yahoo! tries “to understand how those users (= users that launch from a tool bar versus a portal versus the search page – R) might be different and their expectations might be different. So we’re constantly looking at that whole ecosystem because Yahoo is a very large network…”

Understanding Context Effect
“We are definitely doing research within that area to understand the affect of the context and I don’t really have anything I can share at this point but I would say that there’s probably a lot of very interesting information to be derived from looking at that.”
In a way this can help Yahoo! with better targeting the advertising messaging.

Does Yahoo! follow Google’s Interface?
No. As the other search engines, Yahoo! follows nothing but it’s search research conclusions, aiming “to do what’s best for our users.”

Yahoo! and Users Needs
“We’re not just a search company, not just a mail company, not just a portal company; we serve a lot of needs…
There is often many, many purposes, so that’s something we definitely we have to take into consideration. And I think that’s one reason of many that we’re looking at social search. We know that our users are doing a lot of things in our network and it’s really effective if we’re aware of that.”

Yahoo search is just One Aspect of the Users Activities?
“We want to support whatever the user’s task is…we tend to want to keep people in our network and introduce them to other properties and experiences. ”

Yahoo!’s Future Challenge
“I think the biggest challenge is really disambiguating intent. Really trying to understand what does the user want when they enter a few words into the search box. ”

Yahoo! on Enquiro’s Eye Tracking Report
“There is a lot of great information there. And I think there is a lot that is in sync with some of our findings as well.”

Interview’s highlights – 616
Into – 113

Total words: 729

Total interview words (SEL original version): 3,569