Google Asks 'Which Result Do You Prefer?'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google is turning to its massive user base to vote on the usefulness of the search engine's results. For certain queries, searchers are shown a polling widget that asks "Which result do you prefer?" Searchers are then directed to visit both pages before voting on a winner.

Other choices in the poll include "Both results are equally good" and "Neither result is good for my needs."

By voting for a particular website, searchers are not influencing the ranking of the page, according to a post on Google Inside Search:

Help Improve Google:

We want your thoughts on search results to help inform the changes that we make.

Search is constantly evolving. In a typical year, we experiment with tens of thousands of possible changes. These changes, whether minor or major, are tested extensively by professional search evaluators, who look at results and give us feedback, and "live traffic experiments" where we turn on a change for a portion of users. Testing helps us whittle down our list of changes to about 500 improvements per year.

Your responses complement our existing evaluation methods by enabling you to provide direct feedback. This feedback is particularly valuable because it comes straight from you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

By crowdsourcing aspects of user response data that was once limited to human search quality raters, Google is expanding its data arsenal to measure the efficacy of algorithm changes, which have recently increased in frequency and magnitude.

It's worth noting that while Google's searchers are voting on the quality of their search results, the team of contractors that Google has hired as "search quality raters" have been given instructions to "ignore the location of the page when rating its quality and to avoid thinking about how helpful the page/document might be for a search query," according to Search Engine Land.

Google's contractors are rating the quality of a page -- users are voting on the quality of their search results.

-- Written by John DeFeo in New York

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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