June 16th, 2006


Sometimes Google isn't quite so clever...

Out of curiosity, does anyone know of an official "suggestion box" for Google News? I've sometimes found useful places to comment on their tools, but a cursory scan didn't turn up anything useful in this case.

I've been running Google Desktop lately -- my curiosity was eventually piqued enough to try it, and I've found it a moderately useful toy. But the Google News feed in it is a tad irritating. The premise seems to be that it discerns what kinds of stories you are interested in, and gives you more stories like that. But that isn't really what it does: instead, it usually winds up feeding you more of *the same story*.

For instance, I just read a story about Bill Gates' departure from Microsoft. As soon as that finished, Google News uploaded seven more versions of exactly the same story, from different news sources. This wouldn't be quite so bad except that it's all a flat news feed -- so those shove out seven different stories that might be more interesting. (Since they are *not* precisely the same story I just read.) Indeed, if you *do* follow one of those retread stories, it gets even more aggressive, until you wind up with a startlingly homogenous newsfeed for the day.

The idea of automatically adjusting the feed to what you read is sensible, and I want to see them succeed at this. But man -- it desperately needs tuning. It should be trying to find stories that are in a similar conceptual space, but it really ought to be expressly avoiding stories that are too much like what you've already read...
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