Henk Van Ess has started off a new blog, Search Bistro, with a scoop he claims to have found: Google’s evaluation labs. Henk says that one of his students at the University of Amsterdam was a participant in the Google Rater Hub, which pays people to rate the accuracy of Google search results in order to improve results and reduce spam. Henk links to a job posting looking for a “Quality Rater” for Google, mentioning the job tasks as “”help with work on a search quality evaluation” and “Candidates will evaluate search results and rate their relevance”. Henk claims that the site is at eval.google.com (which is 404 if you aren’t in the program) and has posted a Flash movie of it in action.
Now, while the story seems legit, a lot of red flags pop up. The story was immediately posted at Slashdot by the blogger (and posted in the third person) and Henk has been emailing it to various bloggers, myself included. His “tone” is suspicious as well, with a lot of self-congratulatory excitement over being Slashdotted. Of course, if I got Slashdotted on my very first blog post, I’d probably be a giddy schoolgirl as well. Besides, even if its a new blog, Henk isn’t exactly an unknown property, having been a newspaper and website editor, and a sometimes contributer to Search Engine Guide.
Also, its not like its an unbelievable story. Yahoo had paid “Surfers” (the actual job title) to do the same thing in the past, and most multi-billion dollar companies engage in some sort of quality assurance and focus grouping. My “odd feeling” probably has more to do with indigestion than intuition.
The real question is: Who in the hell wouldn’t want this job? Search, give a thumbs or down, repeat until you get a check. Where can I sign up?
UPDATE: Google Blogoscoped confirms the reports. However, Philipp notes that the screenshots are outdated, and the raters have no influence on PageRank (their results are only used for internal purposes).