By Harry McCracken | Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm
I’ve been watching the odd debate between Google and Bing executives over Bing’s alleged copying of Google search results wih an uneasy fascination. There’s an interesting question here about legitimate and illegitimate uses of clickstream monitoring to shape search results. But both sides have adopted pissy, confrontational tones that haven’t done much to clarify matters. (All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher thinks the whole affair may be a preview of the Larry Page era at Google.)
But Google engineer Matt Cutts has a new post up which I like: His points seem reasonable and he engages in no sniping or whining. I agree with him that Bing honcho Yusef Mehdi’s “We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop.” is, at best, confusing given that (A) Bing does seem to have replicated the nonsense results that Google planted as part of its sting operation; and (B) Bing representatives also seems to have defended watching IE users’ clicks on Google and mixing results based on their actions there into the gumbo of Bing’s algorithm.
At the moment, I think that Google has the edge in this tussle, mostly because it’s explained its stance more coherently and (somewhat) more politely. (Of course, reasonable people may disagree.)
If Microsoft’s stance is that it hasn’t been copying Google results (period, full stop), the best thing it could do would be to explain why that isn’t the case–in language as measured and dignified as Cutts’s. Tell us, Bingfolk: Why haven’t your actions amounted to cloning links from a competitor’s search results?