[FoRK] What Would Google Do (for me)? - Wal-Mart videos
mattj at newsblip.com
Fri Jan 6 15:59:30 PST 2006
I forgot a cardinal rule of digital life. When you need answers,
always ask yourself first: How could Google answer this for me?
Yesterday a story broke about walmart.com's video section linking
"Planet of the Apes" (PotA) to a set of biographies about African
Americans. No other related links, just those biographies. Suspicious?
So I started exploring, to see whether it was a fluke. I followed the
related links. I looked at other PotA videos. Was this data new? I
spent a long time at archive.org trying to get old walmart.com pages to
load. Simultaneously, Wal-Mart was dismantling the related links
system; all links were disappearing.
Not including a dinner break, I wasted four hours in this before
finally asking "What Would Google Do for me?" Clearly, the four black
bios were a well-defined category. How many other videos were linked
just to that category, like PotA was?
The proper Google query was to include the black bio titles, and
site:walmart.com. One of the bios was too recent, but after dropping
it, I got 100+ random titles that all had those black bios as their
"related links". It was a bug, not a racist prank. I noticed they all
seemed to be box sets. That seemed to be the only connection. With
different queries, on MSN I was able to show that the problem has
existed at least since last summer, and at least up until last week
(the freshest cached pages).
Now I see that about an hour ago, Wal-Mart announced the technical
results: there was a problem in categorizing many unrelated box sets
and twin packs with a tag created last January for a Martin Luther King
Anyway, I had to post my frustration with myself for not thinking of
the better search idea right away.
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