In an informal meeting at the Infonortics Search Engines Conference last week, representatives of several major U.S. and European Web search engine companies discussed how they could work together to discourage spammers and, perhaps, set standards for search protocols and Web page submissions. The meeting, called by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch (http://searchenginewatch.com) was spurred by Sullivan's drive to simplify Web searching by creating a common set of commands for searching information, as well as for submitting Web pages to the various companies.
Participants in the discussion were particularly taken with the idea of jointly discouraging spammers, a subject that concerns them all. One participant noted that 10 to 15 per cent of his computing resources were taken up by the superfluous and misleading spam.
Sullivan has established a page at Search Engine Watch that outlines proposals for search standards. Discussion revealed, however, that some unexpected barriers exist to implementing them. For instance, the Danish word for duck is "and." Anyone searching a Danish site can't use "AND" as an operator, therefore. All participants agreed to continue the discussions informally, particularly to seek means to discourage spamming. Cybernauts can only applaud efforts toward standardization and improvement of Web content quality. For more information on the proposed standards project, see http://searchenginewatch.Internet.com/standards/index.html.
The conference itself provided extraordinary coverage of current and soon-to-be-released information technologies. Trends toward automatic categorization and visualization were notable, as were soon-to-appear tools for analyzing information and integrating searching into most desktop applications. This is good news for information professionals, who will find new roles as writers of categorization rules as well as more time to analyze and report on search results.
More extensive reports of the Infonortics conference will appear soon in upcoming issues of Information Today and Searcher magazine, as well as on this NewsBreaks and Conference Reports site.