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Setting the record straight

I was unable to attend the Farsight conference yesterday but watched events unfold online and wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts and make sure everyone is clear about a few things.

It was interesting to watch the level of protest and feigned outrage from Google. One wonders what brought them to a place where they would level these kinds of accusations.

Before we explore that, let me clear up a few things once and for all.

We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop. We have some of the best minds in the world at work on search quality and relevance, and for a competitor to accuse any one of these people of such activity is just insulting.

We do look at anonymous click stream data as one of more than a thousand inputs into our ranking algorithm. We learn from our customers as they traverse the web, a common practice in helping to improve a wide array of online services. We have been clear about this for a couple of years (see Directions on Microsoft report, June 15, 2009).

Google engaged in a “honeypot” attack to trick Bing. In simple terms, Google’s “experiment” was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as “click fraud.” That’s right, the same type of attack employed by spammers on the web to trick consumers and produce bogus search results.  What does all this cloak and dagger click fraud prove? Nothing anyone in the industry doesn’t already know. As we have said before and again in this post, we use click stream optionally provided by consumers in an anonymous fashion as one of 1,000 signals to try and determine whether a site might make sense to be in our index.

Now let’s move the conversation to what might really be going on behind the scenes.

Bing was launched nearly two years ago to break new ground and help move the search industry in new directions. We have brought a number of things to market that we are very proud of -- our daily home page photos, infinite scroll in image search, great travel and shopping experiences, a new and more useful visual approach to search, and partnerships with key leaders like Facebook and Twitter. If you are keeping tabs, you will notice Google has “copied” a few of these. Whether they have done it well we leave to customers. But more importantly, we take no issue and are glad we could help move the industry to adopt some good ideas.

At the same time, we have been making steady, quiet progress on core search relevance. In October 2010 we released a series of big, noticeable improvements to Bing’s relevance. So big and noticeable that we are told Google took notice and began to worry. Then a short time later, here come the honeypot attacks. Is the timing purely coincidence? Are industry discussions about search quality to be ignored? Is this simply a response to the fact that some people in the industry are beginning to ask whether Bing is as good or in some cases better than Google on core web relevance?

Clearly that’s a question that will continue in heated debate as long as there is a search industry. Here at Bing we will continue to focus on our customers, and try to provide some great innovation for consumers and the industry.

Yusuf Mehdi, Senior Vice President, Online Services Division



  • Bing, "Powered by Google". It does have a nice ring to it.

  • Mr.Wheeler, Yes, I copied John's answers, but that is only 1 of the 1000 people I usually copy from, and remember, he copied ALL his answers from a textbook!! (by studying day & night - but I dont have time to do all that) I am the underdog, so I use all the tools available at my disposal to come up with the answers - as we all should.

    Everyone copies, I have been since 2005, so It was interesting to watch the level of protest and feigned outrage from John. One wonders what brought him to a place where he would level these kinds of accusations.

    Clearly that’s a question that will continue in heated debate as long as there is Exams

  • "Bing, "Powered by Google". It does have a nice ring to it." > haha zing!

    I have tons of respect for Microsoft as one of the great companies in American history. BUT it is so annoying that you guys never give competitors any props. The iPhone was stupid, Google Apps is stupid, Android is stupid, we're suffering from search overload, we don't know how to talk on our phones, Windows 7 is a better OS for tablets than iOS ... I'm not sure you guys could be wrong more often if you tried.

    Microsoft has lost any sense of intellectual honesty. You were copying results - just own up to it. Google has the best search engine - nobody debates that but your overpriced television commercials. Copying them is understandable. You got busted and now you're acting like the spoiled little rich kid who got caught cheating by his teacher but it's somehow the teachers fault. Copying makes sense, spinning it doesn't. Competing is one thing, crying about getting called for a foul is another.

  • - Doesn't it bother you that Google can "trick" your results?

    - Don't you find it strange that you use "1000 signals" and yet the Google result is the one that Bing uses?

    - Do you really think Google employees worry about Bing for more than a nanosecond each day when your division, the Online Services Division, flushes half a billion dollars down the toilet every year?

    - Did you know that Google's experiment was to catch you red-handed doing what you've been doing for months (working hard on core relevance eh?) rather than to trick your results once off?

    - Do you know what click fraud actually is? Or did some poor minion have to tell you because you're non-technical?

  • When you're using click stream data from Google as a search signal, that's effectively copying from Google. You didn't do it directly or intentionally. But their results showed up in your results. At the end of the day, that's copying.

    Will you blacklist click stream data from Google (and all other search engines)?

  • I believe you guys at Bing. I don't see why you would copy anyone in this field. Keep up the good work Microsoft.

  • Microsoft, just admit to it. Google is better, you know that, so you copied them.

    Then again, you don't like admitting competitors are better now do you? You like using them though! So, tell me, does FreeBSD still power your servers or are you confident your own OS is stable and secure enough yet?

  • jamesmanes: there's a simple reason why they'd copy - Google is better.

  • lol, so many trolls in this blog comments. Do you even understand how complex it is to develop a search engine and how much code lines does it take to develop and manage it ? If Bing would copy all of that, that is the only way, they can copy results from Google.

    Google copied instant scrolling, background image, side bar, etc...just to name a few and these are the features which are clearly visible that they copied it. But no, fanboys can't admit that :). But if Google says without any proof that Bing is copying, they start shouting...probably they are too nervous :)

    I have used both extensively and I hardly find same results for both the search engines. Such an immature statement from a company like Google sounds so weird, they are just turning evil, lol...

  • the query that Google is crying about is something for which there is apparently no other signal available and thats why the result was similar to what Google was showing... anyone with above zero IQ couldve understood this... oh wait... ask is also showing as the top result for query "google"... dammit... now they are copying too... :@

  • Yet another manager comes up with another lame excuse, earlier there was a Bing "Powered by Google" Team post about this 1000 signal nonsense where stealing results from Google is just a small part and now this Mehdi guy confirms it, just admit it, you were stealing data and displaying it DIRECTLY to your users, Google probably wouldn't have done this honeybot if you were using their data internally to enhance your results, you just stupidly displayed this results directly to users. Seriously Mehdi, can you be any more stupid??

  • Hey Bravooooooo Mehdi, Now it makes sense why you display other's search results on your Bing "Powered by Google" engine.

    "We have been clear about this for a couple of years (see Directions on Microsoft report, June 15, 2009)."

    I have gone through this, there is absolutely nothing about querying Google and displaying their results directly on your user's results pages, are we missing anything here?

    I still don't why you talk about Google copying other technologies when the subject here is clear, Google was concerned about lame Bing displaying Google results, and you talk here about click fraud and what not, it will only show that you guys have no proper explanation on this issue.

    Do you really think people who read this stupid post as stupid as you guys are?

  • Looks like this code was directly integrated into Bing!

    It even does the 1000 signal scrape code!

  • Who let the trolls out?

  • You know i did realize lately that the results  from bing were similar to google. What i found with  bing before  the change was that their results were more relevant than google's but  failed to correct  incorrectly  spelt words. I wish they would just fix that portion. Either way there is nothing wrong with what bing is doing, although I would have wanted that to be stated more clearly