Some Thoughts on the Panda Myth

Panda, the filter Google run apparently around 6-8 weekly whose job is to sift the wheat from the chaff in their huge database, is sadly not a myth … but some at least of the “quality measures” it appears to use are … in my very humble opinion.

“Every site must be chock full or all original, meaningful articles that add or else the site is of no value”.

That is to assume that all the world’s knowledge, and all the world’s serice requirements, are supported by articles.

Well, in fairness, knowledge is better when supported by articles but if I need to know what a owrd means I will look at the brief summary in a dictionary rather than reading twenty peer-reviewed thesies on the topic … note the word ‘brief’. Actually, for most people, for most topics, that’s what we want, the easily digested summary with links to deeper knowledge should we chose to take them …. I do not want some external algorithm (and I have worked with algorithms for many years) to decide on my behalf that I will not be satisfied without receiving the whole truth … even if I’m not qualified to understand it.

In the case of services this is even more likely that Panda is making a mistake. When I was at university, way back in the 1970’s, I was studying what was then called Computer and Communications Engineering – but in term 1 we had to do maths to bring us all up to speed. I remember one very long, very detailed, very obtuse lecture in which a professor proudly spent a long time labouring the proof that 0=nothing and any number +1 is bigger than the original number. Now, I can see that for pure mathameticians this is a fundamental proof that is required before higher level theories can exist. For an engineer working in the electronics world (at the time) of +/-10% components it all seemed a bit much.

I now presume, however, that if you ask Google for an on-line calculator page it will only be content to show you ones that prove all of the underyling maths of each button in major, original, articles before giving you any answers … but wait, it doesn’t it gives you this a fabulous on-line calculator with NOTHING else around it except google ads!!

The calculator is just one example. In the real world we also do not operate in a Panda-improved way. The most complex thing you are ever likely to won is a computer .. most computers are chosen in electrical stores where they are differentiated by a label with 6 bullet points and a price …. no big articles here. Most are chose by price, colour, brand and … well, in my case, keyboard feel! When you get the computer home what do you fine, a separate box for the manuals, no, just a quick start guide a small document (your computer) and a large document (your computer’s warranty) … that’s it. We do not get, nor do we expect, large amounts of articles and supporting documentation … and we do not get them because people do not want to read them .. so why is Panda obsessed with giving us sites full of something which every piece of evidence says we do not want?!

I suspect that Google people are a bit like me … they love manuals, I use them as bedtime reading, nothing I like better than browsing a good thick manual and learning what’s behind the buttons .. but I am an engineer, I am a bit OCD about information  and I am considered a freak by many 😉

The second most complex thing you will ever own is likely to be your car … my cars manual is not a think document (it would be thinner if it wasn’t in 8 languages) and most of it is about the radio, sat nav and aircon. Another example where the thicker of the two manuals is the warranty!

I could go on …

I wont …