Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Google and Content Farms

Google has been getting some press over the last two weeks for its attempt to purge "search engine spam" from its search results. Santa Clara Prof. Eric Goldman posted some related links and thoughts here. Part of Google's purge is aimed at online stores that use less than savory methods to get their products to appear ahead of their competitors' products in Google search results. Another part of its purge is aimed at "content farms": sites like eHow that pay (often unqualified) contributors around $10 or $15 a pop to write short, quick articles that will turn up in Google search results. (We mentioned these before when talking about the new search engine blekko.)

For people using Google for legal research (usually to get background before using specialized legal research sites and databases), Google's purge should not make much of a different, since the top results in searches for legal research usually lead to sites (government websites, law firm websites, and wikipedia) that may offer incomplete or out-of-date information, but don't often offer information that is simply wrong, the way content farms can. But if you are a lawyer or law student and do happen upon something like eHow's "How to Research Federal Law" and consider it reliable, we just hope that you're not affiliated with Hofstra.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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