WordCamp NYC is August 2-3

This is a badge to indicate that I’m attending WordCamp NYC next month:

If you’re in the New York area and have any interest in WordPress, you should come. It will be fun.

This is a test.

Google plus is unreachable

I just went to a Google Plus page1 and saw this message:

The app is currently unreachable.

Someone in Google’s search quality team should tell their Plus team about how terrible soft 404s can be.

Don’t be evil.

  1. I sometimes have to use Google plus for work. 

URL Length Limit

Usually, when Google scrapes a content website to provide its content to users in search results ahead of the actual search results, they’re looking for premium editorial content. Sometimes I also see Google scraping structured data, especially when it’s marked up carefully. But here’s something I don’t recall ever having seen:

In this case, I searched for [url length limit] to get information on best practices, and Google scraped part of an answer to a question on Stack Overflow.

Here’s the question: What is the maximum length of a URL in different browsers?. The winning answer was ignored. The answer that Google scraped was the sixth most popular answer, out of 11, and directly referred to the second most popular answer.

This seems like a mistake to me. I’ve occasionally had terrible experiences with Stack Exchange in the past and, while I do consider that a great resource, would not consider any site in the network a good candidate for white-listed inclusion in an answer scraping program.

Calories in a Krispy Kreme donut

Google tries to scrape content websites and deliver their content to users directly in search results, and then sell advertisements against the content, which is evil. Fortunately for users of the web, Google still isn’t very good at this. Here’s a SERP where they failed miserably:

I searched for “calories in a krispy kreme donut” and, instead of answering my question, Google gave me the following information:

To burn 190 calories, you could do any of the following:

  • 53 mins walking.
  • 22 mins jogging.
  • 16 mins swimming.
  • 29 mins cycling.

Seth Roberts

Seth Roberts died on Saturday. This is very sad news for me. Dr. Roberts was a huge inspiration and I’ll miss his iconoclasm, his ideas and his independent thought.

Another Google scraping fail

Are you concerned about disease prevention – but not any specific disease that you can name? Perhaps you’ve searched in google for something like [disease prevention] and seen this:

Text of Google’s answer card:

These images are in the public domain and are thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy, we request that the content provider be credited …

More text:

  • Disease Prevention
  • Exercise & Activity
  • First Aid
  • Home and Family …

They include links to the CDC and to Medicinenet, but it’s hard to imagine searchers clicking on them after seeing such lousy information.

This strikes me as another case of Google doing an extremely bad job at providing direct answers to users in search result pages, as a result of being far too aggressive at scraping content websites. In this case, searchers would have been far better served by a simple list of ten blue links.