Would you want your search results to include vetted search listings so you know which sites are official?
That’s one of the questions that came up in my chat with James Grossman, the RightDot inventor who has received such a patent. If used by a search engine, results can then be vetted and validated so you know which sites are really legit.
As you might have guessed from the post’s title, I have some issues with the patent – the biggest ones being that it addresses a need that doesn’t exist, and that it will do more harm than good for both consumers and search engines. I even suggested to Grossman that Google might try to encourage Yahoo or MSN to use it, so Google can make even more gains in market share. There’s a danger in setting too much control over the natural search results. It would require an opt-in system, and smaller businesses and publishers might not do so, even when they have the most relevant content. Additionally, say I wrote a scathing book about a legend like Jackie Robinson or Mother Teresa and I wanted the book’s official site as a validated result since it would have a ton of relevant content related to the subject; who’s to say whether I should get that status? Does it even matter if it’s true? And what about Wikipedia articles, for that matter?
The patent covers other things as well, like being able to email a retailer or site owner right from the natural search listings without going to their site (again, not sure the need). There’s plenty more that I can’t cover in depth at the moment.
I encourage you to read the patent and come to your own conclusions; I plan to share more, perhaps in a column or perhaps informally on the blog. I welcome your take on this. Grossman told me everyone he talked to was a big fan of his patent; I guess I was the first. I’m curious to get your thoughts.