[Foundation-l] In defence of Google

Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Fri Jan 19 17:49:41 UTC 2007

Anthony schreef:
> On 1/18/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hoi,
>> Recently there has been a lot of traffic about search engines. The tone
>> of these discussions have been hostile towards Google. I want to remind
>> you all that it is because of the value Google attaches to our content
>> that we became the number 10 or whatever in the Alexa rankings.
> So Google is to blame for that?  You say it as though it is
> necessarily a good thing.
I do not "blame" Google for that, I cherish Google for what it did for us.
>> When
>> Google were to drop the value it attaches to Wikipedia in favour of for
>> instance Citizendium, it will become clear how important Google is for
>> the dissemination of our Free content.
> When STDs and pregnancy can be prevented by an inexpensive, safe and
> effective once a day pill, those people distributing free condoms will
> be out of business.
> If Citizendium becomes the next great thing as a fork, then
> Citizendium will be disseminating "your" Free content.  If not, then
> there's little reason to believe Google would drop Wikipedia, just
> move it down to number two.
When Citizendium becomes "the next great thing", we will have ourselves 
to blame for it. I believe in the way /we /do our thing. I do not 
believe that Citizendium will be successful. At the same time, I give 
them the benefit of the doubt. I do not understand your reference to 
STDs. I want to learn more about this as I have an interest in those.. 
When Wikipedia and Citizendium have more or less the same data, there is 
no point in having both with the same relevance, just moving it down to 
number two does therefore not make sense.
>> When Citizendium finally gets its
>> act together, and does a better job that we do, it will make sense to
>> Google to change its preference. We should not sit on our laurels but
>> innovate. Frankly we can use some competition.
>> The point that I am making is NOT that we might not consider dabbling in
>> search technology. When we are to do this, we will find a well written
>> proposal in Meta to consider. My point is that Google did a world of
>> good to the Open Content movement. It is relevant that we acknowledge
>> this. They are not like Microsoft who gives us a low ratings because of
>> us competing with their product. Google did good, Google does good.
> A large portion of Wikipedia contributors found the site through
> Google.  Of course, a large portion of them also use the Windows
> operating system.  I have as hard of a time imagining a Wikipedia
> without Microsoft as I do one without Google.  In either case some
> other company would have to take up the slack.
> Google and Microsoft are for-profit corporations.  Their purpose for
> existence is to make a profit.  The wonderful thing about capitalism
> is that a corporation can do a lot of good for the world while
> pursuing the goal of making money.  But there's really no reason to
> acknowledge this.
There is every reason to acknowledge when you benefit from the business 
practices of a friendly organisation. The absolute minimum that this 
realisation does is to allow you to acknowledge what it is that makes us 
a success. When we are smart it means we maintain friendly relations 
with those organisations that enable our success. Google fits that bill. 
Microsoft does not appreciate Wikipedia for what it does and as a 
consequence suffers in its appreciation. I do not touch Microsoft's 
search engine with a barge pole because of their bias. It is also 
something that enables the argument why Microsoft is "evil".
> I'd love to see Google torn down and replaced with an open source
> collaborative search engine run democratically by the world.  I'd love
> to have access to a search engine as good as Google, with a truly open
> API (i.e. sans http://code.google.com/apis/soapsearch/api_terms.html),
> and with all the results being released under an open content license.
>  Is Wikimedia the one to do that?  It's arguable whether it'd be
> within the scope of the Foundation's mission.  And in any case, I
> haven't seen a reasonable proposal of how to do it.  So I guess when
> it comes to that point, we're both in agreement.  And yeah.  Google
> did good.  Google does good.  But Google did bad, too.  Google does
> bad, too.  And Microsoft also did/does good/bad.
> Anthony
If you want to improve on what Google does, please do. It does not make 
sense to decry your wish for an alternative where there is none. Google 
has been a boon to us. In my value system it is good to acknowledge 
this. I do not begrudge them being one of the most successful companies 
at this moment in time. Do better than Google and you may make a 
difference, but I am sure that Google is a moving target.


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