Search Quality > Politics

[I wrote this in January 2008 but never posted it. I think people might still want to read this, so I’m posting it now.]

In an election year, everybody gets a little more sensitive about politics, so I wanted a write a pre-emptive post in case anyone accuses Google of political bias in our search results sometime this year.

This is my personal opinion, but in my way of looking at the world, search quality > politics. That is, preserving the quality and accuracy of our search results is the best way we can help our users, while skewing our search algorithms to espouse a particular political party’s viewpoint would be anathema. This month I finish my eighth year at Google and begin my ninth (geez, I’m old), and in that entire time I can’t remember even the tiniest suggestion to bias Google’s search results toward any political party. The trust of our users is important, and in my opinion it would be an abuse of that trust to skew our search results toward any particular political view. I suspect that if you checked with old-timers at other search engines, they’d say similar things.

5 things you (probably) don’t know about me

(I was rooting around and found this leftover post from 2006 and figured I’d throw it out here.)

It looks like blog tag has come to the search bloggers. I’ve been tagged by so many people that I yield and surrender obscure facts about me.

  1. When I was growing up in Eastern Kentucky, there wasn’t always a lot to do. In high school, we once played Car Tag. In real tag, you chase people around until you can catch them. Car tag is played the same way. In order to win, you have to touch your car to the other person’s car. As I recall, I won at car tag. Please do not try this at home. Now we have things like the web to avoid boredom.
  2. My first computer was a Timex/Sinclair ZX81 that my Dad assembled from a kit. When we maxed out the 2K memory, he bought us a 16K expansion module. My second computer was a Commodore 64. I was a Commodore fan long after it was clear that IBM PCs would dominate that decade of computing.
  3. Growing up, my mother was an evangelical Christian and my father was a physics professor. As a result, I learned to have a healthy respect for people with different opinions and perspectives.
  4. In my freshman year of college, I was the eight-ball champion for my dorm. There was another guy who was better than me, but he had bad luck in the final game. On a good day at Google, I could sometimes beat Google Fellow Jeff Dean, who is a sharp guy with a pool cue. Now I haven’t played in years, so I probably suck big rocks at pool. Huh, Danny likes billiards too. Danny, we’re clearly just going to go a bowling/pool frenzy when you make it back to the valley. 🙂
  5. One of my cats, Emmy, likes nooks and crannies. Her favorite is curling up in a box or bag:
  6. Emmy in a grocery bag

Note: Back in 2006 I was going to tag a few people, e.g. Jim Allchin, but Allchin has left Microsoft and probably has better things to do now. That’s the hazards of doing blog posts ~3 years too late!