Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Google Base and getting the crap out

Bindu Reddy has the post on the Google Blog announcing the launch of Google Base.

Widely hyped as a possible Craigslist and eBay killer, Google Base looks to me a lot more like a slightly more structured version of a wiki. You can add nearly any content you want defined by nearly any fields you want.

There isn't all that much content yet but, as content is added, the trick will be keeping spam and crap out. I expect Google Base to be treated like a free version of Google AdWords by many. I doubt it will take long for people to upload your usual assortment of credit card offers, domain name services, get-rich-quick schemes, and exciting new ways to increase the size of your willy to elephantine proportions.

So, how will they help people find the relevant stuff and filter out the crap? At this point, it isn't clear. We'll have to wait and watch.

See also my previous post, "Getting the crap out of user-generated content".

See also good comments on Google Base by Nathan Weinberg, John Battelle, Tara Calishain, Gary Price, Danny Sullivan, and TechDirt.

Update: Google Base does appear to be using a few techniques to reduce crap, including automated detection of naughty or spammy words, community reporting of bad items, and, when searching, suggestions of categories and tag terms to refine the search and improve relevance.

It will be interesting to watch and see how well these techniques scale over time.

Update: Wow, it sure is easy to upload crap to Google Base. It takes RSS feeds of 1k items at a time.

I think we're going to see some heavy abuse of this, especially if Google starts including Google Base search results in Google web search (like they do for Google News and Froogle search results). That would create quite the profit motive.

Here's one crazy idea for abusing the system. Someone should try uploading all of's RSS feeds but inserting an associate tag into the URL. Same thing is probably possible with eBay and many other places that offer referral kickbacks. Woo hoo, go wild, script kiddies.

Update: A week later, John Leyden at The Register reports "Google Base awash with smut".

Update: Three weeks later, Nathan Weinberg reports that "product listings on Google Base have become almost entirely filled with [affiliate] redirect URLs to Amazon." Woo hoo, looks like the script kiddies went wild.


mb said...

Looks like there's already crap in Google Base. Like this recipe for "Crap On A Stick":

1 lb crap
boiling water

Bring water to a boil. Add Crap to water. Stir for 9 hours and 43 minutes. Drain. Add crap to stick. Serves 2

Greg Linden said...

: )