search result prioritization

<hidden> anonymous
Created: 3 years and 3 months ago • Updated: 3 years and 3 months ago
I notice that if I search "chemtrail science" The first twenty or so hits are debunking sites, demonstrating poor or no science and I wonder why you aren't more even handed? "vaccination science" the first five are debunking the concerns we have about vaccines. I think in controversial matters it would be good to alternately list pro and con... A lot of people just open the top hit you give them. But you already knew that. Makes me wonder about you people...

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Thank you all for the many comments, questions and suggestions. Particular thanks go to user x.15a2 for constantly monitoring, replying and helping so many users here. To continue these discussions, please head over to the DuckDuckGo subreddit.

DDG's algorithm (as I understand it from just eyeball-reverse-engineering) doesn't actually know what you're looking for. It instead makes guesses based on what your words are and how frequently they are found in the document it's comparing. At the same time, DuckDuckGo doesn't know what the document is saying either (whether it's pro or anti-vaccine), nor even necessarily what it's about. Thus, it's very difficult to get evenly interspersed results.

Search engines like Google however do know (or can guess and sort of know) what you want and what a page is about. Remember, they have lots of money and lots of mathematicians working for them. Plus, they bubble, so if they know you're pro-vaccine to begin with, they'll serve you a lot of pro-vaccine stuff. If they know you're anti-vaccine, they'll serve you a lot of anti-vaccine stuff.

Whether DuckDuckGo should mess with it's algorithms to create interspersed results on chem-trails or vaccines is a matter of principals: Fairness and equality over showing the dominate opinion. This is often a problem in the media where, in some cases, two "scientists" debate vaccines, global warming, smoking or other similar topics. Even though 98% of the scientific community believe (and have proven) that it is one way, both sides are given equal air-time. This creates the false view that there is still a debate which many have blamed for our slow action on climate change, smoking and other matters.

As a search engine, DDG is expected to objectively return the most dominate opinion. Say I'm trying to figure out how to install MySQL on my Windows laptop (this actually happened to me I'm sorry to say) and 90% of websites said you could do it one way. But there are those 10% of websites that give you a link to a virus and say that this "installer" will solve all your problems. In this case, showing the dominate view will find me the correct information (and perhaps protect me from a virus; you never know).

Of course this can also be bad. What if vaccines do in fact cause autism? (This has been debunked, by the way, and the science behind the debunk is quite sound.) The search engine follows heard-mentality, thus enforcing a dominate opinion and making it even more dominate.

I'm going to leave a judgement on this to the staff. I just don't want to make a choice...

posted by MyUser 3 years and 3 months ago Link