[Quote] Observations on Yahoo! Taiwan's Search Filter

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We hear a lot about issues on censorship on Global Voices Online and our Advocacy Project, and most of the cases come from Government policies or business self-censorship because of the Government policies. However, fierce business competition can sometimes result in censorship… or a kind of.

Famous Taiwan infotech blogger Briian recently protested against Yahoo Taiwan (Yahoo Kimo) filtering search results, calling Yahoo!Kimo “evil”.

In his post “Protest! Yahoo!Kimo's ‘Combined Search' monopolizes information! (抗議!Yahoo!奇摩「綜合搜尋」資訊壟斷)”, he pointed out that Yahoo Kimo's new search function, “Combined Search”, gives out web links, news, video clips, blogs results… only from Yahoo's own services.

首先,先看一下原本的Yahoo奇摩搜尋結果長怎樣,頁面最上面除了廣告跟新聞區塊,中間一大塊都是網頁的自然搜尋結果,最下面是知識+的內容。

First, let's take a look at the original look of search result page in Yahoo!Kimo. The upper part of the page is ads and news, the middle part is natural search result of web pages, and the bottom part is from Yahoo's Knowledge+.

下面這個Yahoo!奇摩新推的「綜合搜尋」的搜尋頁面:

And below is the search result using newly invented “Combined Search” from Yahoo!Kimo:

仔細看他的搜尋結果,新聞區塊全部只收錄有刊登在Yahoo奇摩新聞網站的新聞內容就算了(一直都是這樣),其他不受Yahoo青睞的媒體內容如果沒機會登上Yahoo!奇摩的新聞頻道,只能默默無名的在某個網路的黑洞裡呼吸新鮮空氣。

Look carefully at the result page. The news area contains news stories only from Yahoo!Kimo News (which seems like always), and other media outlets who are not favored by Yahoo and have no chance to get into Yahoo!Kimo News Channel would stay in some kind of unnoticeable Internet Blackhole.

最主要是「知識+」區塊下面的那個「部落格」搜尋結果列出來的全部都只有「Yahoo!奇摩部落格」跟「無名小站部落格」 中的內容,意思是使用Yahoo的人全部都沒法藉由這個「綜合搜尋」的功能找到「奇摩」跟「無名小站」以外的部落格文章,全世界的部落格都不是部落格,只 有寫在Yahoo所屬網站裡的才算是。

What's more important is the area of “Blog search result” under “Knowledge+” area, where all the results are from “Yahoo!Kimo Blog” and “Wretch Blog” (note: Wretch is the biggest blog service in Taiwan, also owned by Yahoo!Kimo). And that means people who search with this “Combined Search” cannot find anything other than blogs from “Kimo” and “Wretch”. Blogs all around the world are not count as blogs, while only blogs under Yahoo Services are counted as blogs.

The same situation happens when searching video clips with Yahoo!Kimo search. All videos showed in search result are from “Wretch Video”.

This hot post got 192 comments and soon was noticed by ZDNet Taiwan. ZDNet interviewed Briian on this issue and then he put whole 3 parts of Q&A on his new blogpost, which has 75 supporting comments when I write this report. I quote part of the Q&A below:

1) 你在重灌狂人上抗議雅虎奇摩綜合搜尋有資訊壟斷之虞,作為一個網路使用者與知名部落客,你期待看到雅虎奇摩會有怎樣的改變?

1) You protest Yahoo!Kimo Combined Search for its information monopoly on Reinstall Mad Man. As a web user and a famous blogger, what changes do you expect to see from Yahoo!Kimo?

以前我還以為美國Yahoo的「YST技術」是為了更快、更準確的找到更多東西,不過現在Yahoo!奇摩的作法看起來是 要讓使用者找到最少的 blog跟影片,無名影音裡面的影片有比YouTube多嗎?可以囊括全世界的影片嗎?當越來越多使用者發現他在Yahoo!奇摩找不到想要的東西之後, 大家轉往其他網站的速度會越快。

Previously I thought that Yahoo!USA's “YST” technology is to find information faster and more precisely, however, it seems like Yahoo!Kimo is trying to prevent their users to find more blogs and more video clips. Are there more clips in Wretch Video than Youtube? Can it cover the whole world's video? Once more and more users are aware of the fact that they can't find what he wants with Yahoo!Kimo, they will turn away quickly and decide to use other search engines.

2) 在我訪問過雅虎奇摩搜尋與工程部門主管後,他們告知我沒有作到全面性搜尋的理由,在於企業資源有限,因此是以先推出新功能為主要考量,並會再逐步增加搜尋 來源,他們並認為無名加上雅虎部落格已是台灣大多數的部落格,在搜尋結果上已能滿足大多數使用者的需求,你怎麼看他們的回應?

2) After my interview with directors of Yahoo!Kimo Search and Engineer department, they told me that the reason they don't search comprehensively is due to limited corporate resources, so they decide to present new functions first and then step by step increase search resources. They also believe that Wretch Blog and Yahoo Blog represent most blogs in Taiwan, so the search result can already meet the need of most users. What do you think about their feedback?

這問題就得問他們自己囉,大家覺得這會是「技術能力」或「最賺錢卻資源有限」的問題嗎?

如果無名+雅虎已經可以滿足大多數使用者的需求,那Blogger、Xuite、Pixnet、微軟Spaces跟Yam天空、癮科技裡面的內容大概都是不重要的資訊吧?更別說是中文以外的語言與最愛寫BLOG的日本跟美國、歐洲、中國…等各地的各式資訊。

This question should be directed to them. Do people think this is a problem because of “technology capability” or “limited resources… while being the most profitable company”?

If Wretch and Yahoo can satisfy most users, then I guess contents in Blogger, Xuite, Pixnet, Windows Live Spaces, Yam Sky, and Engadget are all trivial wrecks? Not to mention languages other than Chinese and information from the most bloggy Japan, US, Europe, China….

3) 有一個很有趣的現象我不曉得你會怎麼解讀,像是Google在美國擁有很高的市佔率,搜尋並超越雅虎多年,不過雅虎在台灣近乎壟斷市場,Google的使 用者仍以power-user為主,Google的開放策略似乎還無法吸引到台灣很多用戶的關注,尤其是20歲以下的用戶。對這些非power-user 來說,他們可能真的不關心雅虎有沒有壟斷的問題,你怎樣看這個現象?

3) Here's a very interesting phenomenon which I am curious about how you decode it: Google has very high market share in US, and its search has surpassed Yahoo for years. However, Yahoo seems to monopolize the market, while Google is still embraced only by power users. It seems that Google's open strategy does not attract many Taiwan users' attention, especially users under 20 years old. To these non power users, they perhaps don't care about the monopoly problem of Yahoo. What do you think about it?

Google的很多東西都比Yahoo!奇摩的好用,譬如說搜尋跟Gmail,但一般使用者並不知道有其他選擇。我可以在 台灣的電視、報紙、雜誌、廣播甚至是外面跑的公車上看到Yahoo!奇摩的廣告,但是看不到Google的任何廣告,雖然在台灣的愛用者很多,但 Google並不重視台灣市場。

Google很多產品在其他國家可能很受歡迎,可到台灣就幾乎很少人用,網站是給人用的,除了語言之外,還有很多文化、習慣與民族性或族群習性的差異,Google中國做了很多努力、併購了很多當地的網站,可是Google並不在乎台灣的使用者,全部就只有中文化而已。

Most of Google's services are much better than Yahoo!Kimo, such as search engine and Gmail, but normal users don't know they have other choices. I notice that Yahoo!Kimo's commercials and advertisements are everywhere on TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, or even buses riding on the streets in Taiwan, but I've never see any ads from Google. Although there are many Google lovers in Taiwan, but Google does not care about the Taiwan Market actually.

Google's huge amount of products might be very popular in other countries, but they are seldom used by Taiwanese. Websites are made for people to use, and there are a forest of differences around culture, habits, nationality or ethnicity, other than language waiting to be discovered. Google China has done a lot of efforts such as merging local websites, but Google just don't care about Taiwanese users while all Google Taiwan has done is having translated its services into Traditional Chinese.

What do you think? Do you consider it a kind of censorship? Do you find the same situation in your country? Please leave comment under after reading this report.

Other News : Yahoo 綜合搜尋 找不到 Google 部落格 / Users can't search for other BSP's pages or outside-of-Yahoo!TW-News on Yahoo! Kimo New Searching Service.