Once upon a time, you could earn my loyalty, for up to 24 hours at a time

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/09/11 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2010/09/11/10060633.aspx

It started several years ago.

Google was hitting serious dominance in web search.

Microsoft was somehere between whether they were calling it MSN Search or Live Search. I guess it depended on the page at that point.

As a Microsoft employee, I was getting a fair amount of grief from some of the true believers about how I wasn't using Microsoft's search very consistently.

I was getting sick of it, frankly.

I decided to make a plan.

The plan was simple:

  1. Every day, the first web search of the day would be via a "Search-off" page that queried both Google and Live, side by side;
  2. I would compare the results between the two to decide which I thought was best;
  3. Whoever won this contest had won my loyalty for the rest of the day and would b my one and only search engine.

My loyalty? It had to be earned.

Every. Single. Damn. Day.

I wasn't using a Microsoft search-off page to help Microsoft with search results, because I felt like how I was searching was unusual enough that I would never want anything optimized for what I was doing unless they found a lot of people doing through their regular mechanisms. I just did it all on my own.

I'm not going to lie; for a long time, Google won most days.

Except for searching in blogs, where they both kind of sucked -- just in different ways, so sometimes one would win, sometimes the other.

But my 24-hour loyalty stayed true to every search after that, no matter what the type.

Google was still winning the most often, overall.

Then, Bing came out.

Google was still winning more than Bing, but it was more like a 70/30 and then eventually 60/40 split (prior to Bing, in Live Search, it was more like 95/5 or worse!).

For some reason, Google continued to get worse and worse with my blog, which is admittedly an uncommon scenario where my searches was for things I knew were there and all I needed was a link to it. I never would have thought the sheer number of links snd cross-links and category links and cross-connections and especially the main page links that were constantly scrolling would make Google look so lame, but somehow that is what happened.

I was on the verge of coming up with a new plan:

Eventually, I stopped using the Google directions stuff since their schedules seemed to be based on the official bus schedules, and onebusaway.org could give me actual times based on bus locations (an absolute necessity in a city where both Sound Transit and KC Metro seemed allergic to following the schedule, more often than not. And although I recognized the difficulty of the problem, the fact that Google decided to make deals to use the easy and less accurate way to do the job left a bad taste in my mouth.

I was constantly annoyed at having to fix my preferences when Google lost track of who I was, particularly on the "guessing words in the search box as I type" feature, which I always wanted OFF.

Then I was annoyed more when Google stopped letting mer use my own browser's "memory" of things typed in the search box - it was like a petulant child, telling me "if you won't let me make suggestions, then I won't let you have your history."

And then last week, the Fit hit the Shan.

In the ramp-up for Google's new "Instant" search, they started playing Javascript games on their home page.

Not "delay" scripts that waited until you got to the page and did nothing for a bit. You know, scripts that seemed optimize to NOT delay the page.

But annoying, show geometric shapes and color/de-color things that started working right away. And slowing down the page right away.

These little slices of distraction weren't about improving my experience or helping me. At all.

And suddenly I could not turn off the "guess words in the Search box" crap; it was always there and where I used to be able to turn it off I could now only choose whether to turn Instant Search on or off.

Remember I was still annoyed at the Google Books problems, on top of all that.

Finally, I gave up.

I gave up on Google.

i jumped the shark.

And now I am only going to use Bing, going forward.

Not because I am a Microsoft employee; in the eyes of some of the die-hrd fans, my utter refusal to show loyalty or help them improve was offensive.

And not because I think it is necessarily better for everyone -- I feel like my usage and search patterns are unusual enough that maybe no one else does anything like it.

And not because I think tons of people will follow; the rest of the world has a longer memory and more loyalty for their preferred search page and there may b no other person anywhere who would move in the timeframe i did, because most won't look that hard.

But because:

all convinced me with Bing getting better for me and Google getting worse on a regular basis, I knew I had to stop using Google before it started escalating the dissatisfaction and choosing to punch me in the stomach every time I searched.

Everyone here can do what they want, and if you prefer Google I'm not going to judge.

I mean, obviously they are building all this for somebody. So just because it has made itself into a turd for me doesn't mean it's not creme brulée for you.

But I'm done now.

I Bing.

Otaku on 11 Sep 2010 8:13 AM:

Nice one! I was exactly the same way - not as diligent as you were with the day-to-day loyalty thing, but more like "run searches on Google until I can't find what I'm looking for, then switch to Bing. Run searches on Bing until I can't find what I'm looking for, then switch to Google." I was in Google most of the time. But yeah, fellow employees can make you few a lot of Catholic guilt about using Google. I guess if you worked at Pepsi and drank Coke in the lunch room it would be the same kind of thing...

I still find Google to be much, much better when searching for code and programming topics (and I do a lot of searches on that stuff) and I do like Google Books and Newsgroup forum searches. But Bing holds its own almost in every other way. It's Travel, Translator and Maps services are some of its best features.

Skip on 11 Sep 2010 12:42 PM:

Well, for me, I do approximately 100% of my searches from the browser toolbar, and for that I have google and bing setup, with bing as the default.   And I just stay with whatever's currently suggested until I do a search that I get poor results on, at which point I usually switch providers first, to see if the other provider finds what I'm looking for without narrowing results.   So the net result is that I probably only switch providers every couple of days.   And since IE 8 usually dies a horrible death or hangs endlessly if the process is around much longer than that, bing gets most of my searches.

Anecdotally the searches that usually tend to cause me to switch are when I'm looking for a specific page on a specific site, and I do a search in the form of 'keyword site:www.sitename.com'.   Bing used to be really, really lousy at those searches, but it's gotten a lot better.

But since I never see the google home page there's nothing there to bother me.  I did go to the page once to see what everyone was complaining about, though.

r on 11 Sep 2010 4:52 PM:

I switched to Bing after Google's results started becoming more and more incoherent (and of course after Bing was launched, which was after Google started to lose the plot). Bing's results weren't much less incoherent, but I'd rather get my mediocre search results from a less pretentious company.

Bing has only improved since.

BarfieldMV on 12 Sep 2010 12:59 AM:

I'm still using google since a lot of good results still turn up when I'm looking for them. However its pretty important to note the the save searches show up the same results so I know that something I searched for or stumbled upop still exists in the first few result pages.

Since bing returns a completely different set of results I can be pretty sure that the same results are not on the first few pages.

Anyway, Bing is getting better and better (or less bad) and google is loosing its edge. Hurray for the future.

Cheong on 12 Sep 2010 6:53 PM:

Google return better match on programming related topics +1.

And agreed that Google had been loosing it's edge. For example, I really don't think the BxxSxxxxx website deserve that high ranking in the searches, because if I can't search in Google, their search result usually only returns lots of people asking that question in forums with no reply.

While it could be good for some people to know that others are hitting the same wall, I don't really think so. They ought do have an option in preference that allow me to filter known search engine results, as I've never ever find them useful.

P.S.: It's funny to see that Google search returns result from other search engines, even like Baidu or other less famous lyrics search sites. Yet I've never seen any Bing result on the higher rank pages unless explicit ask it to via host:bing.com.

Random User 423680 on 13 Sep 2010 9:47 AM:

Regarding the OCR-type issues, it occurs to me that groups that take a "reCAPTCHA" approach are generally going to end up with keyboard-typeable approximations of the text, instead of Unicode-style encodings. Maybe that's what they're after, but if not...

Pete on 14 Sep 2010 6:42 AM:

I do a lot of work with standards bodies in the high speed datacom industry and have to google because I can't get bing to return results from PDFs.  Check out the results for SFF-8436 (a document describing the QSFP+ interface).  Google has what I'm looking for as the first result, but bing doesn't come anywhere close!  I do like bing maps more than google though.  The streetview data is much much better where it's available.

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2011/03/29 Both Google *and* Bing fail to support accessibility, dammit!

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