[Disclaimer: Google has treated me very well over the last several years; I am decidedly 'pro-Google.' I'm also almost entirely 'anti-Microsoft.' However, this article is not about those things. I just want to admit my bias up front.]
Bing says: 'Nuh uh. That is not the case. Oh, and also: Google makes billions promoting spam." OK, that's helpful.
Later, in effort to address the bad PR resultant from the buzz around the issue, Bing responded making the claim that 'user data' is responsible for the common search results. The idea is that Bing promotes results that people are actually clicking on, and that the Bing Toolbar is doing some magicks to improve their search rankings. They say the reason that the gibberish queries show up in their results is just because Google engineers actually clicked the resultant links... and then the magick happened. A number of different factors are taken into account by the Bing Toolbar to influence how clicked links should affect Bing's search results, and apparently several of them only seem like they're just being copied directly from Google.
That's fine, but if the gibberish search terms aren't present in the urls Google randomly selected for their tests -- and they're not -- the only way Bing would have any knowledge of the queries is if the Bing Toolbar is recording not only the click, but the Google search queries used to find that link in the first place.
Bottom line: if Bing is populating their search database by indexing the results page a user got from doing a Google search, those results did in fact come "directly from Google" like Google claims. Whether or not there's anything wrong with collecting 'user data' about what information users search for (and find) on competing search engines is another issue entirely, but Google's claim here absolutely holds true.
Bing is using Google's search results to affect the results they return when users search Bing. And they need to come out and say it rather than denying it and then trying to change the subject to Google's spam-promotion business model.
Either the results came from Google or they didn't. (They did.)
That particular issue, however, is being completely overlooked by people who are now getting caught up in the 'OK, so what?' argument.
This blog post (from a Microsoft employee) essentially says: "Google stole a bunch of features that Bing had; that's no different than Bing stealing Google's results. Since they're both stealing, it's ok." I say there's a big difference between copying UI features and copying actual content, especially when the only reason anyone uses your service is to access that content. It's not the same thing at all.
At this point it's pretty clear to me that because of the missing-the-point pro-Microsoft 'analysis' bloggers are doing, people now think the following things: "this is some big Google VS Microsoft issue," "Microsoft is just being attacked by Google for a PR stunt," "Google is just a big meanie."
Perhaps some (or all) of those things are true; even so, at the end of the day, the issue we're arguing is Google's claim that some of Bing's results are coming "directly from Google." That claim has been very effectively proven to be true. Yet Bing maintains that it's not -- and then talks about "making billions off of spam" to try to distract from the issue at hand.
If Bing wants to make the case that collecting 'user data' from all of a user's activity, including the searching they do on competing search engines (and the results the searches returned) is what they want to do and are doing, then I'd be fine with that. But instead they're just saying it's not happening. And that Google is a spam whore. Google may be a spam whore, but everything they've said in the last few days regarding this issue is demonstrably true. Bing, on the other hand, has opted for Jedi hand-waves.
I'll take an honest whore over an intellectually dishonest liar any day.
So you've got your blog all set up, you've been publishing for a while, and all of a sudden you learn that people have been "hotlinking" to your images. This outrages you, so you set up an .htaccess rule to replace any "hotlinked" images with a graphic that says "Stealing Images Makes You A Jerk!"
That ought to teach those jerks for stealing your images... right? Sure it will, but I've got a question for you: Do you have an RSS feed?
Oh, you do?
Well, you've also just prevented all those "jerks" who subscribe to your feed from "stealing" your images too. Wait, you want them to be able to see your images? Of course you do.
The trick is to set up your .htaccess file to allow certain websites to be able to display your images, while blocking everyone else. You'd do it by making your .htaccess file look something like this:
What that does is look to see if your image is being loaded from some other website. If it is it then checks to see if that website is one of the "approved" ones. If the site in question is in the list, the image is displayed normally -- but if it's not, your "Do Not Steal" graphic gets displayed instead.
That list is all of the online RSS aggregators I know of. If you want to add your friend's site to your approved list, just copy one of the lines up there, substituting in the proper domain name. Don't include the "www," because that little "(.*)?" will match that if it's there.
If you use a reader that's not in that list, let me know so I can update the list here.
If you look closely at that Wordpress blog, almost all of the posts have my email address associated with them. Crazy.
It turns out that they're aggregating a variety of different celebrity-based RSS feeds and have some sort of bug in whatever software they're using to do so, because they did have my post about Charlford's ultrasound in there, but nearly every post after that is attributed to me as well.
People, if you're gonna steal other people's content, make sure you're doing it properly :)
Now that I know they're just automatically putting up anything I send down the 'celebrity' pipe, I must say that I'm quite tempted to use this power for evil...