Monday, June 29, 2009

Really, Google News?

Recommendations are based on what you have searched for and clicked on in the past, and they will improve over time as you use Google News.

Really, Google News? They will improve over time? Are we talking in geological terms, or something on more of a human scale, because I'm really not seeing the improvement...
On my customized Google News page there's a section featuring links to stories recommended specifically for me.
These stories are based on my Google News activities, such as the stories I click on in the other sections (US, Sci/Tech, etc.) and on the searches I make within Google News.
This is why I find it so puzzling that since Thursday it has exclusively recommended stories related to the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, as I have never once clicked on a link about or done a search on those topics.
I think part of the problem is that the recommendation process is weighted to favor entertainment news, and, of course, the majority of stories in that category are going to be about those particular topics until something equally newsworthy (for some value of "worthy") occurs, as my recommended stories are almost always entertainment news, despite the fact that 90% of the time (at least) I'm clicking on Sci/Tech stories.
Even when I've managed to get the recommended stories more in line with my interests - which involves a lot of clicking on Sci/Tech stories - clicking on one entertainment story will reset the results to all entertainment recommendations.
What really bothers me about the whole thing, though, is that the problem with Google's recommendation engine is that there's no way to actively refine it in the way that you can with, for example, Amazon's recommendation engine. There's no way to tell Google News that I'm not interested in anything involving American Idol, or the Hills, or Paris Hilton, other than by steadfastly avoiding clicking on anything even remotely linked to those topics, and even that is no guarantee, and all of your efforts can be destroyed by an errant mis-click or by clicking on something that you actually are interested in that has even the slightest connection to those topics.
It seems like it would be fairly simple to implement some kind of "I'm not interested" check box, or, at the very least, a rating system for stories that would let you indicate how interested or uninterested you are in stories of that type.
Just a thought/rant.

Megan Fox and the Rose Kid update:
Looks like the kid didn't get his chance to meet up with Ms. Fox: Disaster

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