Sebastian's Pamphlets

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Getting Help and Answers from Google

For webmasters and publishers not having Googlers on their IM buddy list or in their email address book, Google has opened a communication channel for the masses. Google's Webmaster Blog is open for webmaster comments, and Googlers answer crawling and indexing related questions in Google's Webmaster Help Central. Due to the disadvantages of snowboarding participation of Googlers in the forum slowed down a bit lately, but things are going to evolve to the better as I've recognized.

As great as all these honest efforts to communicate with webmasters are, large user groups come with disadvantages like trolling and more noise than signal. So I've tried to find ways to make Google's Webmaster Forums more useful. Since the Google Groups platform doesn't offer RSS feeds for search results, I tried to track particular topics and authors as well with Google's blog search. This experiment turned out to miserable failure.

Tracking discussions via web search is way to slow because time to index reaches a couple days, not minutes or hours like with blog search or news search. The RSS feeds provided contain all the noise and trolling I don't want to see, they don't even come with useful author tags, so I needed a simple and stupid procedure to filter RSS feeds with Google Reader. I thought I'd use Yahoo pipes to create the filters, and this worked just fine as long as I viewed the RSS output as source code or formated by Yahoo. Seems today is my miserable failure day: Google Reader told me my famous piped feeds contain zero items, no title, nor all the neat stuff I've seen seconds ago in the feed's source. Aaaahhhrrrrgggg ... I'm going back to track threads (missing lots of valuable post due to senseless thread titles or topic changes within threads) and profiles, for example Adam Lasnik (Google's Search Evangelist), John Mueller (Softplus), Jonathan Simon (Google), Maile Ohye (Google), Thu Tu (Google), Vanessa Fox (Google) and a few others.

Disclaimer: Asked why I'm on sort of a Google bashing trip with my recent blog posts I was quite astonished. I think Google is awesome, not perfect but still awesome. Seems my intention (constructive criticism) got obscured by my sometimes weird sense of humor and my preference for snaky irony and exaggeration to bring a point home.

Update July/05/2007: Google has fixed the broken RSS feeds.

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