The Don't-Pay-For-Placement Search Engine
Fake News written by on Wednesday, October 8, 2003
With a motto of "I'm Not Feeling Lucky -- Just Give Me The Damn Results", a new search engine has been launched that features a "virtually cheat-proof" page ranking system.
"It's so simple I can't believe nobody else has thought of it," explained Eric Phenatic, lead programmer for the new system. "Our system looks for any website that has paid money to have a prominent listing on another search engine. These sites are immediately flagged as 'marketing tripe' and will not appear anywhere within our site except maybe on page 52,534."
The new engine was born about three months ago when Phenatic checked his email one day and found 9,123 spam messages. Vowing to put an end to this nonsense, he then went to his favorite search engine and tried to search for "anti-spam filter", only to discover that the first 739 results were all sleazy sites hocking dubious mortgage refinancing services and you-know-what enlargement products.
"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" he wrote in a Usenet post, only to see his mailbox flooded with even more spam a few seconds later.
Today, Phenatic and his team of other mad-as-hell Linux programmers launched an alpha version of their new system. "We're not sure what to call it," he said. "It appears that every domain name of six letters or less has already been taken, and every meaningful phrase of less than five words has already been trademarked. Until we think of something, we're code-naming it 'Shovel' -- the search engine that shovels all the crap away so you don't have to."
Shovel works by employing two spiders -- one to crawl the Web at large, and one to only crawl other search engines. "Our philsophy is simple -- do the exact opposite of MSN, Yahoo, and other engines where money is more important than content."
In addition to its patent-pending "don't-pay-for-placement" page ranking algorithm, the new system also employs an innovative "<body> odor" ranking scheme.
"We all know that 95% of everything is crap. But our code can smell the HTML code and immediately detect and eliminate the crap," Phenatic boasted.
First, each prospective site is run through an HTML validator. While the system is somewhat lenient (nobody is perfect, and a misplaced forward slash is not the end of the world), those sites that fail spectacularly are immediately rejected. "Crappy code is a clear sign of crappy content," Phenatic said.
Next, the site is tested with a grammar and spelling checker. "A lot of spam sites consist of little more than a list of hidden keywords, which are obviously not written in complete sentences and will quickly fail the grammar test," Phenatic explained. "We've also tweaked the grammar checker to flag 'marketese'. A sentence like, 'We plan to aggressively incentivize our enhanced image perception to leverage postmodern market-driven paradigms' will immediately be tagged as 'non-English' and the page will be unranked accordingly."
Finally, the system will compare the page with other pages that have already been rejected. "Spammers like to post stuff at one domain that is really just a front for a totally different domain -- but we can see right through that. Our search engine will not list any sites that redirect to other sites which redirect to other sites which provide links which redirect to other sites which are all owned by a front company operating out of a P.O. box in Bermuda. It's not going to happen."
Once version 1.0 of the new search engine is fully launched later this year, Phenatic hopes to extend his ideas to junk e-mail. "Instead of blacklisting and Bayesian filters, what we really need is a good spelling and grammar checking system for incoming email. Nigerian scams, private-part-enlargement ads, and get-rich-quick promotions all share one thing in common: exceptionally poor spelling and grammar.
Mrs. Mariam Abacha, wife of the late Nigerian head of state, Gen. Sanni Abacha, desperately seeking an American business partner to help smuggle billions of dollars from Nigeria, was unavailable for comment at press time.