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July 16, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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C.R.E.A.M. – Bing Is A Piece Of Shit

Bing is shit. Amusingly shit. Spectacularly shit. Anyone ever caught unaware at a library computer, or fooled by some innocent-looking version of Internet Explorer, will know this. The Microsoft-owned search engine humiliates the very concept of design: every stuttered response is a cluster-fuck of besides-the-point and why-the-hell-would-I-want-that. Whereas industry-dominant Google is considered the cornerstone of the modern internet, Bing consistently fetches unhelpful drivel.

It’s incomprehensible. Microsoft have a lot of money, and we know that hundreds of millions of people use Bing each day. Why can’t Microsoft find a fix? Their problem is the way that search engines work. Search engines follow your every move, so that they can figure out what responses help people and which don’t. Some people loathe this corporate scrutiny, but there is no denying that this has led to much better search engines. It’s also led to Microsoft’s problem: to run a search engine well, you need a lot of data, but that requires loads of users in the first place. That makes it almost impossible for new search engines to get started.

This is why Bing is broken. They’ve suffered from ‘network externalities’–an effect where people only want to use something if other people use it too. People will only use it Bing if it is better, but it can only become better if more people use it. They’ve failed to reach the point where they have the data to do their job.

Microsoft are all too aware of their problems, and have reacted desperately–though sometimes hilariously. They force Bing as the default search on their new computers, hoping that some users will not know to switch. That proving insufficient, they also opted for a more embarrassing tactic. Last year, Google made some minor changes to their search engine. Whenever someone searched ‘hiybbprqag’, it returned a link to “The Wiltern seating chart and tickets to the Wiltern”. This was an inane response, but soon, Bing had started also returning the Wiltern seating chart. Bing was actively copying Google.

Google’s experiment was hilarious, and it is not hard to empathize with the engineers, but let’s suppress our sympathy and consider Microsoft’s tactic more rationally. What’s wrong with Bing copying Google? If it does so, and makes other improvements, won’t that lead to a better search engine? Google is not going to stop innovating, even if Microsoft is copying it; it’s not going to pack up and leave. Microsoft’s copying is unfair, but it’s hard to see how it hurts the public.

By leeching off its competition, Bing hopes to become great. Maybe that will happen. For now, please Victoria University Library, you need to get rid of it. Bing is crap.

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