Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Focus on the User: The real winners and losers of Don't Be Evil

Engineers from Twitter and Facebook got together to hack out a bookmarklet called “Don’t Be Evil”. You can grab it from a site called Focus on the User. These engineers are being pretty direct with their choice of names.

The goal of the bookmarklet is to show that Google could have done Search+ differently. Twitter and Facebook say that Search+ is not fair. They say Google are using their search market share to bully their way into social.

If you read this blog then I’m sure you’re already familiar with the bookmarket but, just in case, here’s the video.

As it happens, Focus on the User also shares the code to the bookmarklet and this reveals there are a simple whitelist of social networks which “qualify”.

When Google rolled out Search+ they only qualified Google+ for special promotion. Twitter and Facebook complained. I do think the Don’t Be Evil bookmarklet has been a big PR win for Twitter and Facebook but, for me, it opens a can of worms. If you want Google to include other social networks in Search+ then which other social networks should be included and who decides this?

The Don’t Be Evil bookmarklet “favours” the following networks. These are the winners.

  • Crunchbase
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Foursquare
  • FriendFeed
  • GitHub
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Google+
  • Quora
  • Stackoverflow
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

That’s a pretty good list and some other Google properties in there as well.

There are some sites that are missing, though, and I accept “missing” is subjective. Here are the losers:
  • Bebo
  • Cyworld
  • Delicious
  • Foursquare
  • Fotoblog
  • GetGlue
  • LiveJournal
  • Orkut
  • Plurk
  • Renren
  • Xing
  • Posterous

There will be some technical reasons why some of these sites weren't easily included. There will certainly be some geographical reasons too – Xing, for example, is far bigger than LinkedIn in places like Germany but were these American engineers to know that? The fact there are reasons why some sites weren't included in "Don't Be Evil" only serves Google's point, I think, rather than Twitter and Facebook.

If Twitter and Facebook wanted into Search+’s new promotional areas – an understandable wish – then they also need to tackle suggesting ways by which Google could make these decisions.

I don’t think it’s arrogant of Twitter and Facebook to expect to be in Search plus Your World’s special zones but there are other social networks out there. If Search+ isn’t exclusively for Google properties then it’ll be a huge challenge to work out who else qualifies. Would social networks expect Google to publish requirements for Search+ inclusion?

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