June 30, 2003


Evil Google discriminates against the stupid:

It was a Left-wing political activist from Texas, Daniel Brandt, who started it, noting that his website a database of news clippings and facts he had been creating since the 1960s on a list of 100,000 public figures was coming up only sporadically on Google searches.

The effect, says Brandt, is a vicious cycle: with a low PageRank, your site may not be crawled and therefore will not appear in Google's index. The result: no links from other sites and a perpetually low PageRank.

"In other words," he says, "the rich get richer, and the poor hardly count at all. If you don't get on Google and people don't know about you, there's no point in maintaining a website.

"This is not uniquely democratic, but uniquely tyrannical. It's corporate America's dream machine, where big business can crush the little guy."

So start your own Google, Daniel. Make it search for sites nobody wants to read!

Posted by Tim Blair at June 30, 2003 05:22 AM

What a nutball lol. Google News thinks "Green Left Weekly" is a newspaper. If they can get on there, anyone can.

Posted by: Yobbo at June 30, 2003 at 07:44 AM

Gawd, this Daniel is a dingbat.

(And the Herald Sun is a bit late on this story, but Hammond once wrote a nice piece about me so I forgive him! Here's the Salon story from a year ago: http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2002/08/29/google_watch/?x And the Scientology web spam nonsense started well before Google rose to the top of the search engines. In fact, Google's ranking of a site's relevance is exactly what destroyed the CoS's attempt to spam search engines with meaningless pro-CoS pages, which were automatically generated as part of the CoS/Earthlink ISP for Hubbard-heads: they had to put up a bogus home page -- "My favorite L. Ron Hubbard quote," etc. -- and agreed to only use the supplied browser, which blocked any and all sites critical of Scientology, along with most major newspaper sites.)

This dingbat guy doesn't seem to understand the basic concept of Google: Frequently updated sites linked by a wide variety of other sites are considered more relevant than, say, a dummy's 1995 home page nobody ever read or linked. (This is why Google's system is so friendly to bloggers.) Also, sites are ranked by the number of searching people who find a certain site relevant to their search, which makes it fairly easy to comprehend why a company's site would be considered a good search result for those looking for that company's site. Finally, this dingbat's site is basically a database of cross-referenced names with a never-changing front page. Google's software hates this kind of stuff, because there are many thousands of useless pages filled with names or words or whatever, much like early Web scumbags would hide the word "sex" in white font at the bottom of their useless page, in hopes Yahoo would show this site to horny web monkeys.

In spite of all this, this dingbat's site is the second result when you search for it: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=NameBase . Search for his name and the top result is his anti-Google site: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&safe=off&q=%22Daniel+Brandt%22 , even though there's a somewhat popular techno/ambient musician by the same name.

Finally, it's not altogether accurate to describe this guy as a "Left-wing political activist." That's how you'd describe Ralph Nader or Atrios. This Daniel Brandt is a weirdo tin-hat conspiracy nut. (See http://www.namebase.org/reviews.html .)

Posted by: Ken Layne at June 30, 2003 at 07:54 AM

Having just perused this ass-clown's Godawful stain of a site I can understand his bitterness.

It's like an internet museum of 1960's conspiracy theory nonsense. And I'm still seeing yellow and lime green spots from the graphics.

Also, here's a Salon profile on him from last year, which gives you an idea of what his ideal search engine would look like:

In Brandt's ideal world, if you searched for "United Airlines," you would see untied.com -- a site critical of United -- before you see United's page. And if you searched for Rumsfeld, you'd see NameBase's dossier on him before the Defense Department's site on the "The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld."

Brandt would prefer that google look more at the content of a page than the links to it. As a matter of personal philosophy, he thinks that judging a site based on links is unfair. "It's democratic in the same way that capitalism is democratic," Brandt says. "You could have the cure for cancer on the Web and not find it in Google because 'important' sites don't link to it."

Posted by: Bill Herbert at June 30, 2003 at 08:03 AM

God, what a horrid site that NameBase thing is.

The graphics made me think that I had been magically transported back to 1995.

Cute content, though. Why does this nut have so many frigging hours on his hands?

Posted by: Ryne McClaren at June 30, 2003 at 09:49 AM

Is Google God?


Maybe he should write about "sex, God, jobs and, oh my word, professional wrestling" to get a better hit rate.

Posted by: Ray Eckhart at June 30, 2003 at 10:10 AM

Although some aspects of Google can be frustrating. With the recent migration of bloggers from blogspot a Google search will still direct you first to the old site and some blogs (like troppo armadillo) seem to have gone missing altogether on Google and only provide old links. This site is now at least appearing on the search again but ranks below the old blogspot one.

Posted by: Thersites at June 30, 2003 at 10:42 AM

I didn't realize Australia was so backward.

NameBase is a name index of the best investigative literature of the last generation. Ninety-five percent of the material indexed is not available in digital form apart from NameBase, and probably never will be. Only idiots who think history is unimportant would consider it unimportant for Google, or any other search engine, to cover our content.

If one believes that the assassinations of the 1960s were the work of lone nuts, then I guess that makes me a conspiracy theorist. But NameBase is much broader than that. And I'm more of a leftist than Ralph Nader, by the way, if joining SDS and refusing induction into the army during the Vietnam era, plus 30 years of anti-CIA activism, qualify me as a leftist.

There is too much noise on the web, and this blog, whatever it is, proves my point. Now let's see if Google laps up your stuff, as I fully expect that they will.

Posted by: Daniel Brandt at June 30, 2003 at 11:59 AM

Yeah, there's too much noise on the web. Google should have someone decide which websites should get higher rankings, instead of this nonsense of basing the rankings on how popular the web sites are with the general public. Lousy commoners! They should read what we want them to read!

Posted by: scott h. at June 30, 2003 at 12:43 PM

I would say that Google democratizes the web, if anything. When I started blogging a while ago I assumed that absolutley nobody was reading my blogs. I thought that you had to pay for listing, or have heaps of links going to your site.

But then when a friend told me about how one of my blogs came up in an ego search she did on Google, I realised that it just sweeps through the web automatically. (I know this is really old news. But I'm practically a Luddite.) Maybe this has changed lately, I don't know. But it was certainly a useful, free leg up into the Blogosphere.

Anyway, even if this guy's argument is correct, he still has Google to thank for his increased visibility on the web. That is, it was bitching about the search engine that got him the story in the Herald Sun and links on sites like this one. It's probably given him more hits than he's ever had!


Posted by: Matt at June 30, 2003 at 12:57 PM

Ha! Another fool lured into believing "Australia is backward"!

This is the sort of cover that allowed us to kill all those Kennedys.

Posted by: tim at June 30, 2003 at 12:57 PM


The facts:

Your site doesn't register high in google.
Google is based on popularity.
Good sites are popular, shitty sites are not.

The conclusion: Your site is shitty. If people wanted nutbar conspiracy rot shoved down their throat, they'd link to you. They don't. Accept this truth instead of moaning about google.

Posted by: Bob at June 30, 2003 at 01:01 PM


Posted by: BOB at June 30, 2003 at 01:33 PM

There is too much noise on the web, and this blog, whatever it is, proves my point. Now let's see if Google laps up your stuff, as I fully expect that they will.

I wonder if Mr. Brandt found this post via Google? It would be the perfect punchline.

Posted by: Ryne McClaren at June 30, 2003 at 01:48 PM

Daniel, dude, update your web design for god's sake -- those fluorescent colors hurt peoples' eyes. And it might help search engines find you if you had some keywords in your meta tags. Get HTML for Dummies, they'll tell you how to do it.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 30, 2003 at 02:15 PM

Lighten up, Brandt. Without guys like Tim Blair to pillory you and your 8-track politics, no one would ever hear or read of your sorry ass.

I think some gratitude is in order.

Posted by: Bill Herbert at June 30, 2003 at 02:30 PM

Andrea, Google doesn't consider keywords in meta tags in their algorithm. And when you have dozens of CGI compiled-C programs running simultaneously 24/7, with Java applets, and automatic GIF generation for multi-dimensional scaling, and have to monitor amateur bots all the time to block them when they hit you ten times per second -- when you can do all of this and keep your site up for eight years, then you can tell me how to make my colors pretty.

Bill and Scotth and Bob, look at www.alexa.com and compare site traffic stats for spleenville.com, google-watch.org, and namebase.org. Each of my org sites gets far more traffic than the entire spleenville.com domain combined. I'm talking about an order of magnitude more traffic. You have to distinguish between site popularity and Google's version of link popularity. I also start out with higher PageRank on each site than anything seen at spleenville.com. That's not the problem. The problem is that Google's PageRank is page-specific, and the PR on my namebase.org has to filter down to the 60,000 pages that are in Google. It doesn't go very far. The other problem is that Google normally only indexes half of my site because they don't keep crawling.

Ryne, I found this page from referrers in my log. I must say, 24 referrers isn't very impressive. Several times a week, most weeks, I get hundreds of referrers from various places. But it was a slow day so here I am.

You folks really don't know what you're talking about; I expect you'll do quite well as a blog.

Posted by: Daniel Brandt at June 30, 2003 at 03:45 PM

That Salon quote is great. Not only do I have to ask why Google should base pagerank on content, but how would it? We tried counting up the keywords already, it didn't work at all. Is he suggesting they have some sort of fuzzy-logic context and subject matter aware algorithm? I'd love to see the number of servers it would take to do that to three billion pages fairly frequently.

Hell, you can already see what the results would be: just try their translation service sometime.

Google works great. It ain't flawless, but I can find anything I want and anytime from nearly anywhere.

Posted by: Matt Moore at June 30, 2003 at 04:00 PM

By the way, the quote in Salon is pure spin. When Farhad Manjoo interviewed me by telephone last August, I never mentioned United Airlines or Rumsfeld. He made that stuff up. I complained to his editor.

Mr. Manjoo was shocked that anyone could be critical of Google when he called me last August. So he went along with the conventional wisdom and did a hatchet job on me. It only takes a bogus sentence or two, mixed in with legitimate quotes, to completely recast the spin. Most of the interview was about my complaints regarding Google's privacy policies, while most of his article was about how "Mr. Anti-Google" doesn't like his rankings. It's yellow journalism, but since Salon is almost bankrupt, the problem may take care of itself eventually.

You may have noticed that the very same Mr. Manjoo had another Google piece last week. His tune has changed, as now he's talking about the "Google backlash." Even Mr. Manjoo is able to figure things out, given enough time. I hope you folks do as well.

Posted by: Daniel Brandt at June 30, 2003 at 04:11 PM

Hey Daniel, this is going to come as a great shock to you, but... some people don't give a shit about "hit counts" or how many people visit them.

Anyway, I was just trying to help. You know, why don't get rid of your way kewl java applets and all the other 1997-era gewgaws. We're halfway through 2003 already; get with the 21st century. Or -- I dunno, you could (and this is just a suggestion, you don't have to if you don't want to) get a life.

And there are other search engine sites besides Google, which is compiled by a bunch of pigeons anyway. Say, maybe that's your problem. Maybe you need to offer Google some birdseed.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 30, 2003 at 04:24 PM

Hey, Daniel, I'm curious, what could Google do to work better? You seem to imply that your top pagerank should apply to every URL in your domain, but I don't think that would make things any more "democratic".

I've been seeing a lot of articles recently on why pagerank is bad, but I haven't seen a lot of solutions.

Posted by: Matt Moore at June 30, 2003 at 05:37 PM


Probably everyone that is interested in what your site has to offer already knows about it. The lunatic fringe left is rather small and hopefully shrinking.

Didn't the SDS want to put a bullet in the brain of everyone that disagreed with them? Or was that the SNCC?

Posted by: ZsaZsa at June 30, 2003 at 07:39 PM

"I didn't realize Australia was so backward."

Jeez. Thanks for opening with such polite and likable comments.

"NameBase is a name index of the best investigative literature of the last generation. Ninety-five percent of the material indexed is not available in digital form apart from NameBase, and probably never will be."

The best investigative literature probably never will be available? Christ it must have been popular then.

"If one believes that the assassinations of the 1960s were the work of lone nuts, then I guess that makes me a conspiracy theorist."

And a weirdo..... I suppose you think Bacon wrote Shakespeare too? Or that the Loch Ness monster is real.... when the CIA isn't hiding it?

Posted by: wilbur at July 1, 2003 at 01:02 AM

Hi Daniel!

See you at the next meeting of the Loyal Oliver Stone Exegesis and Rationalization Society!

Posted by: E.A. at July 1, 2003 at 04:30 AM

"I must say, 24 referrers isn't very impressive."

The referrals are coming directly from links posted in the comments. Tim did not link to your site in his main post, so I don't find "24" to be at all surprising.

"Several times a week, most weeks, I get hundreds of referrers from various places."

Only hundreds? I guess being in Salon really doesn't get you much these days. At least we'll all be able to hurrah when they come to repo their office furniture.

Posted by: Ryne McClaren at July 1, 2003 at 10:52 AM

I think the pigeons got Daniel. Lesson: don't mess with Google! Mwahahahaha!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 1, 2003 at 04:05 PM