Archive for the ‘UK’ category


The IBM Selectric version of Univers revived

12.03.2023

This is one of the more fascinating type design stories I’ve come across in ages. Jens Kutilek has revived a very unlikely typeface: the IBM Selectric version of Univers in 11 pt.
 

 

A lot of us will have seen things set on a Selectric in the 1970s, especially in New Zealand. I’ve even seen professional advertisements set on a Selectric here. And because of all that exposure, it was pretty obvious to those of us with an interest in type that all the glyphs were designed to set widths regardless of family, and the only one that looked vaguely right was the Selectric version of Times.

Jens goes into a lot more detail but, sure enough, my hunch (from the 1980s and 1990s) was right: Times was indeed the starting-point, and the engineers refused to budge even when Adrian Frutiger worked out average widths and presented them.

It’s why this version of Univers, or Selectric UN, was so compromised.

What I didn’t know was that Frutiger was indeed hired for the gig, to adapt his designs to the machine. I had always believed, because of the compromised design, that IBM did it themselves or contracted it to a specialist, but not the man himself.

There’s plenty of maths involved, but the sort I actually would enjoy (having done one job many years ago to have numerous type families meet the New Zealand Standard for signage, and having to purposefully botch the original, superior kerning pairs in order to achieve it).

I think I kept our IBM golfballs, which carried the type designs on them, and hopefully one day they’ll resurface as they’re a great, nostalgic souvenir of these times.

What is really bizarre reading Jens’s recollection of his digital revival is that it’s set in Selectric UN 11 Medium (an excerpt is shown above). Here is type that was set on to paper, now re-created faithfully, with all of its compromises, for the screen. He’s done an amazing job and it was like reading a schoolbook from the 1970s (but with far more interesting subject-matter). Those Selectric types might not have been the best around, but the typographic world is richer for having them revived.
 
The hits per post here have fallen off a cliff. I imagine we can blame Google. Seven hundred was a typical average, but now I’m looking at dozens. I thought they’d be happy with my obsession over Bing being so crappy during 2022, but then, if they’re following Bing and not innovating, maybe they weren’t. Or that post about their advertising business being a negligence lawsuit waiting to happen (which, incidentally, was one of the most hit pieces over the last few months) might not have gone down well—it was a month after that when the incoming hits to this blog dropped like a stone. Maybe that confirms the veracity of my post.

I’m not terribly surprised. And before you think, ‘Why would Google care?’, ‘Would they bother targeting you?’ or ‘You are so paranoid,’ remember that Google suspended Vivaldi’s advertising account after its CEO criticized them, and in the days of Google Plus, they censored posts that I made that were critical of them. Are they after me? No, but you can bet there are algorithms that work to minimize or censor sites that expose Google’s misbehaviour, regardless of who makes the allegations, just as posts were censored on Google Plus.


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Autocade is about to turn 15

03.03.2023


Above: The 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia, the most recent entry to Autocade.
 
Next week, Autocade will turn 15. I don’t expect big editorials extolling its history, mainly because the site has not changed much in principle or appearance since it was first conceived in 2008.

We did a single video under the Autocade name, which my friend Stuart Cowley filmed, edited and directed. But as we both have full-time jobs, it never took off into a series of web videos.

There could be a surprise development from Autocade that’s actually Amanda’s brainchild, but I’ll have to work out how much time is involved. It looks like the next major addition to the Autocade world will happen in its second 15 years. It won’t be an online magazine—I once registered a domain related to Autocade and stuck a Wordpress installation on it, but nothing came of it, and I gave up the name. Besides, there are plenty of entries already in the online automotive space, and I’m not interested in being a latecomer.

The original site is getting close to 31 million page views, which I am very happy about—not bad for a hobby, spare time site that so many have found some utility from. Thank you, everyone, for your visits and your interest—and big thanks to Nigel Dunn, Keith Adams, Peter Jobes, and my anonymous (at his request) friend for your huge contributions.

Extra thanks to Graham Clayton for being our number-one commenter (when we had Disqus forms running). I’ll be back with a “traffic report” during March, and maybe a hint of what we’re up to for Autocade in 2023.


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Nostalgic thoughts: what sparked my interest in fashion magazines, and Nike’s 10 rules for business

01.03.2023


 
I have told this story many times: I became interested in fashion magazines with a 1989 issue of Studio Collections. In fact, it was its fifth anniversary issue. I really liked the typesetting, photography and print quality. I was probably one of the few people disappointed when they went to desktop publishing and the typesetting quality deteriorated in the 1990s.

No such problem at Brogue (well, British Vogue) in 1991, which was still put together the old way. Coincidentally, my first issue of this venerable title was also an anniversary one, namely its 75th. Linda, Christy and Cindy were known to everyone, even young straight boys like me (actually, especially young straight boys like me). Here the visuals and the article quality were influential, and I had grown up reading largely British car magazines, such as Car and Autocar (though I began with Temple Press’s Motor in 1978). The British way of writing resonated with me and it was familiar territory.

My journey in this world, therefore, began eight years before I started Lucire, and the ideas had brewed for some time.

Yesterday we uploaded three articles from 1998 and they were quite terrible. I might have known what the benchmark was from the late 1980s and early 1990s, but we sure didn’t hit it in our writing a year after we started. I like to hope that we have since got there.
 
 

 
Someone shared Phil Knight’s 10 steps in business for Nike, when it was a fledgling enterprise back in the 1970s. I had seen this a long time ago, in the late 1980s, and even used to share it with my students in 1999–2000. I hadn’t seen it since.

They are aggressive and macho, which probably ties quite well in with Nike and its early days (John McEnroe was more than a suitable ambassador). They probably lend themselves quite well to sportswear. But a few of these are universal in business.

I like (7): ‘Your job isn’t done until the job is done,’ and the third of the eight ‘Dangers’: ‘Energy takers vs. energy givers’. Bureaucracy, naturally, heads that list of dangers, and rightly so.

You should ‘Assume nothing’ (5).

I don’t know if they still follow these tenets, but some definitely remain relevant.


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Why we’ve dropped Disqus, and the shenanigans of the online ad world

02.02.2023

When I first signed up to Disqus, there was the option to have no ads. But with Lucire we allowed them, because I figured, why not?

Disqus’s rules were pretty clear: you’d earn money on the ads shown, and once you got to US$100, they’d pay out.

The trouble is those ads made so little money it took ages to reach the threshold.

Last year, when looking at the revenue figures, I was surprised things had reset and we had only earned a few dollars. Where did the US$100 go? There was no record of a payout.

I began enquiring and it took them a while to respond. They said they would pay (what would have happened if I never asked?) but what hit our account was NZ$100.

In other words, 35 per cent short.

I guess they’re counting on people not chasing up NZ$35, and I’m wondering if it’s a worthwhile use of my time. Or maybe it’s better I write this blog post to warn others about Disqus.

Disqus either short-paid us by 35 per cent or they have no clue how currencies work. Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on their company.

Unsurprisingly, I began taking Disqus off our sites, which was what I had always planned to do once we got to US$100. Off it went from Lucire for starters, though on Autocade it had been quite useful. I had signed up early enough to have the no-ads option, so I left it, especially as we had great commenters like Graham Clayton from Australia, who has a wealth of knowledge about cars himself.

This week, we noticed the no-ads option had disappeared and the bottom of Autocade’s pages had turned into an ugly mess, at least on the desktop version. We already had our own ad in the footer, so we didn’t need multiple ones cheapening the site.

Not only did Disqus pay us short by 35 per cent last year, I discovered their ads don’t even pay. Yes, Disqus was included in our ads.txt. But here’s a site that gets 1,000,000 page views every quarter (roughly) and we had earned zip. Zero. Nada.
 

 

Once I understand how to update a Mediawiki database, we’ll have Mediawiki comments instead, and I’ve exported what we had from Disqus.

It’s been a bad run, but there you go.

Media.net also said they would drop publishers from certain countries, without naming them. That was fine by me since they also had odd discrepancies between what I knew to be the traffic and what they recorded. At one point, the Media.net ad code was hard-coded on Autocade’s pages, and still they were recording a minuscule amount of traffic.

With time zone differences (their person was in India) we never solved it.

Maybe an inordinate amount of people use ad blockers?

We had till February 28 to remove their code but I took it off as well—no point dragging out yet another non-paying service.

It really feels like yet another area where Google has wrecked the advertising ecosystem for legitimate publishers. Oh for the days when there was more quality control over where ads appeared.
 
Ten years ago, we were hacked. That is a story in itself, which I documented at the time, along with Google’s failings. What also struck me was that the hack used what appeared to be Google Adsense code:
 

 

I had come across fake ads taking you to malware sites before, even with legitimate ad networks. (I still remember seeing a fake ad for a job-seeking website that wound up on our sites in April 2008.) But for some reason in 2013 it still seemed strange, since I didn’t deal with Google and some legit ad networks were still hanging on.

However, I noted on April 7, 2013, when researching what had happened, that it was entirely possible. And Google makes money no matter what.

I wrote: ‘The publisher’s site gets blacklisted and it takes days for that to be lifted, so the earnings go down. Who gains? The hackers and Google.’

The quotations I included in the 2013 post are sobering, with other publishers negatively affected by Google’s systems and inaction.

This week, almost 10 years later, I came across this.
 

 

Google, still useless after all these years. But hey, as long as they’re making money, right? Because the rest of us sure as heck aren’t, at least not through anything they touch. Their core business is a negligence lawsuit just waiting to happen.


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Now Google is worsening on a site: search: framesets from the early 2000s are in the top 10

26.01.2023

This was never supposed to become a search engine blog, but like the Facebook “malware scanner” (or was that scammer?) and Google lying about its Ads Preferences Manager, I was forced to investigate when no one in the media (or, for that matter, the wider internet) did.

And over the years, those posts really helped people and exposed some wrongdoings.

Hence the latest obsession, about Bing, because no one seems to have noticed how Microsoft’s search engine is behaving as though someone at Redmond is unplugging servers left, right and centre.

Someone on Reddit suggested I try Kagi, which is a paid search engine—but from what I can tell, it’s a meta-search (the person who told me about it confirmed this, as did an earlier review).

I’ve seen meta-searches for decades, and admittedly Kagi is the prettiest of them all, but because it’s pulling from Bing and Google, it suffers from the limitations of both, especially the former.

We already have seen how Bing basically favours antiquity over currency, at least where Lucire is concerned, so Kagi’s results contain, in their top 10, pages that have not been updated (or linked) since the mid-2000s. When the Google-sourced results are factored in, it looks a bit better (since there are pages from the 2010s and 2020s), but they still aren’t the most relevant (since it seems Google has been faltering somewhat on site: searches, too).

Here’s a screen shot from Kagi. Results 1, 6 and 7 are current; result 3 is from the early 2010s; results 2, 4, 5 and 8 are framesets from the 2000s; result 9 is from 2014 and hasn’t been linked since then; the remainder are stories which can still be found through spidering but date from between 2011 and 2016.
 

 

Since it’s a meta-search, I decided to peer into Google and its top 10 do not look good, either. As I don’t tend to use Google, and the recent tests were about grabbing the number of search results, or analysing their currency, I hadn’t drilled down on a site:lucire.com search for a while.

Let’s see how they look today.
 


 
Surprisingly bad. Results 1 and 2 are current; results 3, 4 and 5 are framesets from the early 2000s that have not been linked since then; result 6 is from 2005 and has not been linked since then; result 7 is a 2011 story; result 8 is a 2022 story; result 9 is a 2016 story; and result 10 is a 2011 story.

In other words, the Google top 10 has changed probably due to their algorithm, but I wouldn’t call these relevant to what searchers seek. I could understand the old about.shtml staying in the top 10 despite its antiquity, but some of these top-level pages are really old. Framesets? Seriously?

Result 11 is repeated, which is also odd, while results 14 and 15 are tag pages from the Wordpress part of the site. The 15th is for Whangarei, not exactly the fashion centre of the world.

Google’s fall could explain why these blog posts have suffered traffic-wise as they are seriously irrelevant; there’s no connection to the pages’ popularity, either. It’s really beginning to feel like the Wayback Machine there, too.

Mojeek still makes more sense, since the search there requires a term, i.e. site:lucire.com lucire, so naturally it gives you pages containing the word Lucire more.
 

 

Result 1 is our home page (makes infinite sense!); result 2 a current top-level contents’ page; result 5 is the main page from Lucire TV; while the rest are stories that have the word Lucire contained in them more than what is typical for our site.

It looks like the US search engines are faltering while Mojeek is getting better. What an interesting development. I didn’t have worsening Google search on my 2023 bingo card.
 
Incidentally, for this website, Google still places my mayoral election pages from 2013 in its top 10; while Mojeek links the home page, the blog, a mixture of posts from 2009, 2020, 2021 and 2022, a transcript of a 2008 speech, and a tag page from 2010. Bing has pages from 2003 and 2012, but also some current top-level pages and, amazingly, three blog posts that are likely to be relevant (two of them critical about Bing from 2022 and 2023, and a 2021 post about Vodafone). In other words, Google has done the worst, in my opinion. Bing only has 10 pages so it has the smallest index but what it showed was surprisingly good! That leaves Mojeek, again, as delivering the best balance of relevance and index size.


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How the search engines fare on a site: search here

16.01.2023

Time to do some analysis on the age of the search results for this site through the search engines. I’m curious about the drop in hits. ‘Contents’ pages’ also include static pages and, in Bing’s case, PDFs. (PS.: For clarification, a contents’ page would include a Wordpress tag page, or a page for a set month containing all that month’s posts.)
 
Mojeek
Contents’ pages: ★★★★★★★★★
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006 ★★
2007 ★
2008 ★★
2009 ★★★★★★
2010 ★
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020 ★★
2021 ★★★★★★★★★★★
2022 ★★★★★★★★★★★★★
2023
 
Interesting spread, and no problems indexing PHP pages (after 2010). Some repeat results, with Mojeek having both www.jackyan.com and jackyan.com versions of the same pages. I’m surprised at the gap between 2010 and 2020, though they do appear after the 50 mark.
 
Google
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023
 
Now that was a surprise. Only the static, HTML pages, with a lot of ex-Blogger indices (which were also HTML). Talk about being a Wayback Machine. No individual blog posts at all and a lot of really old stuff that isn’t even linked any more. I expected Yandex to do something like this, not Google.
 
Bing
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
2023 ★
 
Still bizarre. Bing claimed it had six results and delivered 10 on the first page. One blog post from 2023 makes it in here—it’s one attacking Bing and calling it near death. (Of the ones after the 3rd, it’s done marginally better, though it’s still hundreds off the norm.) During the course of the day, the 50-something results Bing had for site:jackyan.com has fallen to 10. Talk about decaying.

Interestingly, Bing gives 50 or so results on mobile—something I discovered this morning after compiling the above and before I pressed ‘Publish’ in Wordpress.
 
Yandex
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006 ★★★★★★★★★★★★★
2007 ★★★★★★★★★
2008 ★★★
2009 ★★★★★★
2010 ★★★★
2011 ★★
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019 ★★
2020 ★
2021
2022
2023
 
Some repeated results and definitely in favour of static HTML pages (pre-2010) over dynamic ones.
 
Baidu
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010 ★
2011 ★
2012
2013
2014 ★
2015
2016
2017 ★★★★
2018 ★★
2019 ★
2020 ★★★★★★★★★
2021 ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
2022 ★★★★★★
2023
 
Baidu gives the wrong date for a lot of results, and there was a repeated result, too. But a pretty good site search and far closer to what I expected I would see, since it’s the post-2010 blog posts that I thought were more significant. There were a few in 2006 that got me some international mainstream media coverage and appearances on Aljazeera English’s Listening Post in those early days, but the most read blog entries were from 2016.
 
Yep
Contents’ pages ★★★★
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014 ★★
2015
2016
2017 ★
2018
2019
2020 ★★
2021
2022 ★
2023
 
Not bad for a newbie in beta, spidering both static and dynamic (PHP) pages. Better than Bing’s mix for the 10 each delivers.

Gigablast delivers none.

I can’t say for sure what caused the traffic drop based on the above, since I haven’t documented one of these searches before. So I’ve nothing to compare it to, though my vague memory is that Google would have had some of my actual posts among the top 50. A lot of the pages it does have there aren’t that highly trafficked. Could we blame Google?

Sadly, I don’t have enough data to know for sure, but on the face of it, Google’s top 50 are anomalous, while Bing continues to demonstrate that it’s largely useless.
 
PS.: Just tried site:bing.com. Bing’s results were terrible, including some real estate searches for homes in France, lots of repeated results. Mojeek and Google delivered better results for site:bing.com than Bing did.


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A format so old, it’s new and radical

16.01.2023


Above: I spy Natasha Lyonne and a Plymouth Barracuda. So the car is part of her screen identity? So it should be, it’s television. I might have to watch this.
 
Two very fascinating responses come up in Wired’s interview with director Rian Johnson on the Netflix release of his film Glass Onion.

I’m not going to refer to it with the bit after the colon in the Netflix release because it doesn’t make any sense. If you’re that stupid to require its presence, you won’t be able to follow the film anyway. (Johnson was annoyed that it was added as well. I can see why.) The second Peter Ustinov-led Poirot film in 1982 wasn’t called Evil under the Sun: a Death on the Nile Mystery. Studios obviously thought we were smarter 40 years ago.

Anyway, the first quotation, on social media trolls, where Johnson believes they have to be shut down, not ignored. Between Wired’s senior editor Angela Watercutter and Johnson:

Wired: It does feel like a shift. Ewan McGregor issued a statement pretty quick saying that this doesn’t represent the fandom. And like you said at WIRED25, 99 percent of the fandom isn’t trolls.

Johnson: Well, and also, that 1 percent tries to do this shell game where they say, “Anyone who doesn’t like the movie is a racist.” That’s a bad faith argument. It’s so clear. We’re not talking about whether you like something or whether you don’t, we’re talking about whether you’re toxic and abusive online and whether you’re an odious sexist racist.

Just something to keep in mind if you still use Facebook or Twitter, where these sorts of discussions erupt.

Second one, and why I began blogging about the interview: Johnson is working on a TV series called Poker Face for Peacock, with weekly release and stand-alone stories.

Oh, so each episode is a standalone?
It was a hugely conscious choice, and it was something that I had no idea was gonna seem so radical to all the people we were pitching it to. [Laughs] The streaming serialized narrative has just become the gravity of a thousand suns to the point where everyone’s collective memory has been erased. That was not the mode of storytelling that kept people watching television for the vast history of TV. So it was not only a choice, it was a choice we really had to kind of fight for. It was tough finding a champion in Peacock that was willing to take a bet on it.

All my favourite series follow this format and I was deeply surprised that it’s been gone so long that it seems radical in the early 2020s.

It’s actually why I tend not to watch much television these days, because all those shows are history.

Who wants multi-episode story arcs? I want an hour of escapism and next week I want another hour and I honestly do not care if character A picks up traits or clues about their father’s brother’s roommate’s missing excalibur each week and its relevance to their superpowers. If the characters are reasonably fleshed out, then I’ll enjoy the standalone stories on their merits, thanks. Maybe give me a little bit of the underlying mystery in the first and last episodes of the season. Or maybe not, I just don’t care.

These are the sorts of things I have boxed sets of: The Persuaders, Return of the Saint, The Professionals, The Saint, The New Avengers, Mission: Impossible, UFO, Department S, The Sweeney, Dempsey and Makepeace, Hustle, Alarm für Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei. By the 2000s, I did think it was odd that Hustle was being compared to The Persuaders and how it parodied the formula. What parody? The shows are not that alike. Now I think the writer must have been getting at the standalone nature of its episodes (though there were some that connected through various seasons). It was that unusual by the 2000s for Hustle’s structure to be considered parodic.

As many of you know, I have Life on Mars but only because by then that was the closest thing to the formula, even if Sam Tyler is trying to figure out what’s happened to him in the background each week. I also have recordings of The Paradise Club, and prefer season 2 to season 1 because of its standalone episodes. I have fond memories of the US shows such as Knight Rider, Automan and CHiPs but never went as far as getting the DVDs.

Johnson is roughly the same age as me—he’s a year younger—so he’ll have grown up with the same influences. His statement that this was how people watched TV for the majority of its history is bang on. Just on that alone, I might find out what Poker Face is about. Maybe we Xers will start getting things we’d like to watch after decades of reality TV and a decade of realty TV, neither of which interests me.


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What saying yes to SEO “guest posts” looks like

05.01.2023




 
Here are a few screenshots from a magazine I loved, but sadly, it seems they’ve responded to those SEO emails, and grabbed the US$50 per post.

I don’t blame them, since Google has destroyed the online advertising ecosystem, and they have to make ends meet somehow.

I was in contact with them some years ago, and they’re really good people.

The top articles on their home page are theirs, and they remain excellent in quality, but scroll down and there are articles that are obviously SEO pieces. What’s the bet that Al Woods and Alexa Wang, with the same initials, are the same person? As a result, I made the sad decision to remove them from Lucire’s link directory.

My feeling is that you accept these SEO gigs at your own risk, and those risks include getting demoted by the search engines as I’m sure they have figured out when you’re part of trying to game the system. They also make the site look like a content mill, despite the great original journalism that’s front and centre, and more visible there.

Our sites are our shop windows, so it’s in our interests to remain visible in the search engines. But everyone has different priorities. And I may be wrong: maybe these pieces haven’t affected that site at all. I’d just rather not risk it.


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January 2023 gallery

01.01.2023

Here are January 2023’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 


 

Notes
Rosa Clará image, added as I was archiving files from the third quarter of 2021.

The Claudia Schiffer Rolling Stone cover came to mind recently—I believe it was commended in 1991 by the Society of Publication Designers, which I was a member of.

I looked at a few more risqué, but mainstream, covers to see what is appropriate, since the Lucire issue 46 cover was one of our more revealing though most glamorous ones in years. Vanity Fair and Women’s Health were useful US cases.

Lucire 46 cover for our 25th anniversary: hotographed by Lindsay Adler, styled by Cannon, make-up by Joanne Gair, and hair by Linh Nguyen. Gown by the Danes; earrings by Erickson Beamon at Showroom Seven; and modelled by Rachel Hilbert.


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Testing the search engines: Bing likes antiquity; most favour HTML over PHP

21.09.2022

Bing is spidering new pages, as long as they’re very, very old.

Last week, we added a handful of Lucire pages from 1998 and 1999. An explanation is given here. And I’ve spotted at least two of those among Bing’s results when I do a site:lucire.com search.

As a couple of newer pages have also shown up, I doubt there’s any issue with the template; and the home page now also appears, too. But, by and large, Bing is Microsoft’s own Wayback Machine, and most of the Lucire results are from the 1990s and early 2000s.

It got me thinking: do the other search engines do this, too? For years, Google grandfathered older pages and they came up earlier. (Meanwhile, searches for my own name still have this site, and the company site, down, having lost first and second when we switched from HTTP to HTTPS in March. Contrary to expert opinion, you don’t recover, at least not quickly.)

As Lucire includes the date of the article in the URL, this should be an easy investigation. We’ll only do the first 50 results as that’s all Bing’s capable of. I’ll try not to include any repeat results out of fairness. ‘Contents’ pages’ include the home page, the Lucire TV and Lucire print shopping pages, and tag and category pages.
 
Bing
Contents’ pages ★★★
1997
1998
1999 ★★★★
2000 ★
2001 ★★★★★★★★
2002 ★★
2003 ★★★
2004 ★★★★
2005 ★★
2006
2007 ★★★
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018 ★
2019 ★
2020
2021
2022
 
Google
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002 ★★
2003
2004 ★★
2005
2006
2007 ★
2008
2009
2010 ★
2011 ★★★
2012 ★
2013 ★★
2014 ★★★
2015 ★
2016 ★★
2017 ★
2018 ★★★
2019 ★★★
2020 ★★★★★★★
2021 ★
2022 ★★★★
 
Mojeek
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004 ★
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009 ★
2010 ★★
2011 ★★
2012 ★★★
2013 ★★★★
2014 ★★★
2015 ★★★★★
2016 ★★★★★★★
2017 ★★★★★★
2018 ★★★
2019 ★★★★
2020 ★★★
2021
2022
 
Baidu
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018 ★
2019 ★
2020
2021 ★★★
2022 ★
 
Yandex
Contents’ pages ★★★★★
1997
1998
1999 ★★★★★
2000 ★★★★★★
2001 ★★★
2002 ★★★
2003 ★★★
2004 ★
2005
2006
2007 ★★★★
2008 ★★
2009 ★★
2010 ★★★★
2011 ★★★
2012 ★★
2013 ★
2014 ★★
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020 ★★★
2021 ★
2022
 

To me, that was fascinating. My instincts weren’t wrong with Bing: it’s old and it favours the old (two of the restored articles were indexed). From the first 50 results, 18 results were repeats—that’s 36 per cent. I’m of the mind that Bing is so shot that it can only index old pages that don’t take up much space. New ones have a lot more data to them, generally.

Google does a good job with the top-level and second-level contents’ pages, though there were a few strange tag indices. But the distribution is what you’d expect: people would search for more recent stories. I know we had some popular stories from 2002 that still get hit a lot.

Mojeek has a similar distribution, though it should be noted that you can’t do a blanket site: search. There must be a keyword, and in this case it’s Lucire. The 2016 pages form the mode, which I don’t have a huge problem with; it’s better than the 2001 pages, which Bing has over everything else.

Baidu’s one is crazy as individual stories are seldom spat out in the first five pages, the search engine preferring tag indices, though half a dozen later story pages do make it into its top 50.

Finally, Yandex leans toward older pages, too, including our most popular 2002 piece. It’s the 2000 stories it has the most of among the top 50, and there’s a strange empty period between 2015 and 2019. But at least there is a fairer distribution than Bing can muster.

The other query that I had was whether these search engines were biasing their results toward HTML pages, rather than PHP ones. If that’s the case, then it could explain Bing’s preference for the old stuff (Lucire didn’t have PHP pages till 2008; prior to that it was all laboriously hand-coded, albeit within templates.)
 
Bing
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★ PHP
 
Google
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★★★★ PHP
 
Mojeek
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ PHP
 
Baidu
★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ PHP
 
Yandex
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ HTML
★★★★★★ PHP
 

I think we can safely say there’s a preference for HTML over PHP. Mojeek brings up a lot of HTML pages after the top 50, even though this sample shows the split isn’t as severe.

Our PHP pages are less significant though: they contain news stories, and these are often ones other media covered, too. But I would have thought some of the more popular stories would have made the cut, and here it’s Mojeek’s distribution that looks superior to the others’. It seems like it’s actually analysing the page content’s text, which is what you want a search engine to do.

Baidu’s PHP-heaviness is down to all the tag indices—rendering it not particularly helpful as a search engine.

On these two tests, Mojeek and Google rank best, and Yandex comes in third. Baidu and Bing are a distant fourth and fifth.


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