[off-topic] Self-referential search results

I don’t normally do ‘off-topic’ posts – in fact this is the first – but I just re-read the earlier post ‘Nice attitude‘ and clicked on the link ‘device to stop young people congregating‘ in the post, which links to an Orange search page which initially referred a visitor to this site.

Notice anything? The same link, to the Orange search page you’re viewing, is top of the search results. That is, Orange’s search engine has listed one of its own results pages in its results. It’s as if Google had ‘Foo – Google Search’ as the top result when you searched for ‘Foo’. Presumably whoever designed Orange’s search engine (Overture?) never expected anyone to link directly to any search done using it, and so didn’t build in any method of trapping self-referencing hyperlinks? It’s a good job they don’t have an ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button or you’d just keep viewing exactly the same search page every time you clicked on it.

OK, it’s not an especially interesting phenomenon, but it does suggest that Orange’s search engine (which I can’t imagine actually gets that much use – I might be wrong) has certain idiosyncracies. It may be that Orange has set it up to make sure that results involving the Orange.co.uk domain are weighted as more relevant in all searches (so if someone is searching for ‘mobile phone provider’, Orange would come top – though in fact Vodafone comes top!) but that seems to leave them open to some potentially deleterious vulnerabilites. For example, if I repeated link the words ‘rubbish phone company’ to ‘http://search.orange.co.uk/all?brand=ouk&tab=home&q=rubbish+phone+company&x=0&y=0’ then Orange’s own search page, with ‘Orange.co.uk’ clearly displayed in the result, may end up coming top.

Anyway, enough off-topicness!

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