Bing Replaces Wikileaks.org with Wikileaks.ch as Top Search Term, Fooling People?
By on December 4th, 2010

I just got to have a conversation with Danny Sullivan, a search engine guru, when he tweeted that Google still shows Wikileaks.org as the top result when you search for "wikileaks" whereas Bing displays "wikileaks.ch" one of the new website for Wikileaks.

Bing Wikileaks Search

The moment I saw that tweet, I knew something was fishy. In the conversation that followed I tried to do some research and somehow everything about Bing right now smells scam to me. Here are some pointers:

  • First of all, organically it is possible to replace an established domain with another when you do a 301 redirect, however, this takes time and 24 hours is a really unrealistic time right now to replace a top level domain listing. Nevertheless, Bing displayed Wikileaks.ch even when Wikileaks.org was down and there were no permanent redirects.
  • Secondly, for a domain to come up in search results it needs enormous amounts of backlinks which wikileaks.ch does not have yet. Of course that could have been offset with condition #1 above, but that never happened.
  • Thirdly, Bing still displays wikileaks.org results in their results which is second to the .ch domain, however their site search results show that .ch domain has a replacement for that listing.
  • Fourthly, No other organic search engines I tried including Google displays the wikileaks.ch as the top result.

So all in all, all Microsoft search related properties went ahead and replaced Wikileaks.org domain with Wikileaks.ch non-organically in a non-sponsored listing. This is against the ethical standards of search engines and also goes on to show than Microsoft can change their listings to display a domain of their choice "organically" without intimating users.

Bing WikiLeaks Index

I have based my research on several things including the fact that Bing itself only indexes two pages of Wikileaks.ch as seen in the screenshot among other things.

If this is not a farce what is it? Should we trust a search engine which displays a result on top with just two pages in its index? Is Bing trying to fool us about it’s sponsored listings being a organic listing? Well, I hope people behind Bing provide you and me with answers on this.

You should know that this is neither politically or otherwise motivated, this is based on pure judgment of my knowledge about how search engines work and show results.

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Author: Keith Dsouza Google Profile for Keith Dsouza
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  • http://tech.shantanugoel.com/ Shantanu

    Nice analysis. I was wondering the same thing. Most of the people around the world are thinking that Bing is so much superior to Google that it automatically deduced the .ch site to be the primary site now and made it the first result while all this is just manual tampering with the results..

  • http://www.worldpeacevision.co.cc/ Aniket

    why fooling? Bing is smart. wikileaks.org is no more but wikileaks.ch is a copy of it. The job of search engine is to deliver right information. I think google must also consider this. Bing took fast action. Who knows its paid or not but its a correct thing to do in my view.

    • http://keithdsouza.com Keith Dsouza

      Aniket – Well a search engine’s responsibility is to deliver right information, however, it has to do so ethically. Everyone is looking for news on Wikileaks and everyone is concerned about what is happening, however, the way Bing did it is not only fishy but requires some sort of investigation too.

      Search Engines are not human beings, yet they deliver information we require, they should not make any allowances to manually replace information a human deems is right.

      • Andrew

        A short note explaining the redirect would be better than claiming your SE is smarter than the rival’s, but when the top search result for a trending topic suddenly goes offline there is little value to the users in returning that result.

        What this shows to me is that Google doesn’t keep current, and Bing plays with the results.

        Time to switch to something else, preferably p2p.

      • http://about.me/xaotica kimberley

        i’m unclear about why a human correcting an error in a tool intended for humans is unethical. especially considering that people submit requests to correct errors in search engines all the time. your post implies that a microsoft employee instigated the change, but it’s equally possible that they were flooded with emails requesting the change.

  • http://amateurgeeks.com/feed sumanth

    Great research…hope bing people will answer it soon..

  • Victor

    what is wrong, if they have taken efforts to offer latest results?
    Bing has done a nice thing.

  • http://www.instantfundas.com Kaushik

    Bing did the absolute right thing. Wikileaks is not just any website – it’s the biggest happening thing in the world, and when all govt and non-govt agencies (f*ck Paypal, EveryDNS, Amazon) are hell bent on removing Wikileaks from the Internet, I’m glad Bing is supporting the organization by quickly replacing the old domain with the new one so that people continue to find the website through the search engine.

 
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