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Microsoft Entertainment Games Technology

Microsoft Uses Human Computing Game To Tune Bing 119

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wtb-better-rewards dept.
Al writes "Microsoft researchers have come up with a novel way to fine-tune the algorithms behind the company's new search engine, Bing: a game that harnesses human computing power to improve the results. Called Page Hunt, the game (which of course requires Silverlight to run) shows users a web page and asks them to figure out a search query that should produce the page within the first five results. The idea is to better understand user behavior and expectations and ultimately improve its search algorithms. Other human-computing projects have sought to digitize out-of-print text (reCAPTCHA) and image labeling (Google Image Labeler). Can Microsoft use a similar approach to gain the edge over its rival? Or does Google already have the edge with SearchWiki, which lets searchers re-rank its results?"
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Microsoft Uses Human Computing Game To Tune Bing

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  • by HasselhoffThePaladin (1191269) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:10PM (#28839811)
    So they're anchoring the algorithm in real-world data? Truly groundbreaking...
    • by MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:14PM (#28839895)

      i wouldnt call it a game so much as cleverly disguising crowd sourcing their work. its a really good idea actually.... excuse me, i need to go design a 'points system' where users, er... i mean players get points when they fix their own computer issues and put a basic trouble shooting guide in a flash docume-- er, game.

      • by dimeglio (456244)

        Without further refinement, they'll get results meaningful only to Silverlight users. This means that technical terms some of us use aren't going yield the results we'd expect from Google.

        • by setagllib (753300)

          Who knows, that may be what they want. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if Microsoft spun this into further marketing and misinformation, with the excuse that the people have spoken.

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:27PM (#28840115)

      Maybe they can use the real world data to fix this issue

      http://www.bing.com/search?q=why+is+microsoft+word+so+expensive&form=QBLH&qs=n [bing.com]
      http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=why+is+microsoft+word+so+expensive&aq=f&oq=&aqi=g1 [google.com]

      Flooded with blog articles about the same query now, and yes, it looks like there's probably a technological reason (or at least viable excuse) for it, but it still seems pretty shady to me.

    • by Tynin (634655) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:28PM (#28840153)
      Seems like this would be ripe for abuse. Get a group of people together like the /b/ group on 4chan, have them start labeling mundane links with porn terms, and porn links with mundane terms. I don't think it would work if only a few people did it, but if you had a large enough group I would think you could make a ton of the data they are gathering useless.
      • by jank1887 (815982)

        actually, how are they tuning porn searches? depending on your desired search results, the wrong query, or the system interpreting your query wrong could bring up some truly undesired stuff.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        4chan, or a bunch of Microsoft haters that would pretty much never use Bing anyway. I can't think of anywhere that a bunch of Microsoft haters hang out on the interwebs. It definitely wouldn't happen on slashdot.

      • Or if you happened to control a huge botnet, you could do the same thing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881)

        Indeed. Google only fine-tunes search results from more savvy users. It's a tad creepy, but they build a profile and know what you're interested in, and use that to send you the correct links.

        http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Pandora&btnG=Google+Search&meta=&aq=f&oq= [google.com]

        What's your top link? Mine is OpenPandora.org

        Bing spits out crap that I'm not at all interested in. Now I know why.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          In the case of refining searches that suit me, basically built around and extensive analysis of my nature, I too would feel far more comfortable with a local app that records and analyses my searches and sends more explicit still but anonymised search requests to an external search engine. Not necessarily because they can't be trusted, oh wait yeah, it is because those greedy buggers absolutely can't be trusted.

          As for M$ trying to build a search engine around a limited section of a selective group willin

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by freyyr890 (1019088)
        Congratulations. You just invented the bing bomb.
      • You assume that the results are incorporated automatically. I doubt that. I think there is a person on the other side tinkering with the algorithm so that it covers more of the search terms.

      • by Valdrax (32670)

        Get a group of people together like the /b/ group on 4chan, have them start labeling mundane links with porn terms, and porn links with mundane terms.

        how do i search web?

    • It's quite amusing seeing MS trying to catch Google's 11+ year-old engine, while Google is probably working flat out to get ahead of sig.ma and the like as web 3.0 takes off.

    • I really have to give them credit...the big blue monster has come a long way...

      First they weren't going to mess with cloud offerings, now they're banking their future on the cloud (Live Framework, Windows Azure, Mesh, Office Live, etc.). They use-to guard their code like a proprietary pitbull and shun opensource, now they have a site set-up for the sole purpose of facilitating distribution of open source code (codeplex.com). And the difference between the philosophy behind IE6 vs. IE8? Night and day.

      Say

  • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:10PM (#28839815)
    After the success of Page Hunt, Microsoft is developing a sequel called File Reports. Players earn points by filling out real business forms and increasing productivity!
  • That'll put a spoke in their wheel.
  • needs MS silverlight to run
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797)

      Well, I won't be installing Silverlight unless it becomes ubiquitous, but if I were Microsoft I'd be "eating my own dog food" (as they say) too. If they won't use it themselves, why would they expect you to? I'm sure their internal documents are Word.

      I wonder, though, if the site could have been done with plain old HTML/CSS. As I'm not installing silverlight I guess I won't find out.

      • by coryking (104614) *

        Well, I won't be installing Silverlight unless it becomes ubiquitous

        Is that because you are infected with the deadly Microsoft-Hater Disease that Linus warned about? Sounds like it!

        You really should be at home resting your brain back into a more sane state before posting here again.

        As I'm not installing silverlight I guess I won't find out.

        Sad. Seriously. You have the disease. Seek help.

        • by TheP4st (1164315)

          Is that because you are infected with the deadly Microsoft-Hater Disease that Linus warned about? Sounds like it!

          Strange, to me it sounds as if the poster is doing what little he can as an individual to prevent a proprietary format from dominating the web as Flash have done for too long.

          Sad. Seriously. You have contracted Microsoftitis. Seek help.

        • by mcgrew (92797)

          I don't hate Microsoft, I just don't like very many of their products, so I doubt Silverlight will be anything but a PITA to me.

        • Maybe he just respects open web standards, as per defined by the W3C. Which do not include Silverlight/Flash/Java/ActiveX mostrosities.
          http://xmlvm.sf.net FTW!
  • ...and wait eleven months to receive it. Oh Live Search Club, your spirit will haunt us forever.

    That said, Google Image Labeler has already proven the viability of this method of tagging and indexing. I think. Has anything really come of the GIL project?

  • Finally... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:16PM (#28839915)
    I have a valid excuse to surf porn.
  • It's a shame... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tenek (738297) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:16PM (#28839925)
    The game gets boring really quickly the first time you run out of "reasonable" search terms and just tack on some exact quote from the page. "His father dies during the travel" is probably not going to help them very much, but it *will* get you to a specific bio of Paul Gauguin.
    • It doesn't make much sense either- can't they just aggregate the data from the bing website to get practically the same thing?

  • Spammers... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nebaz (453974) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:17PM (#28839943)

    If users have the ability to tailor search results, won't page rank "fixers" (aka spammers) have an easier time? Or am I missing something?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sopssa (1498795) *

      There are already multiple ways for spammer to tailor search results. You know, the webpages itself, thats why it's search results. You need the algorithms to protect that, so you obviously need algorithms to protect what data is used from this "game" aswell. This is just to give additional information to the search results, but same rules apply.

  • by Snarkalicious (1589343) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:18PM (#28839945)
    This must be the beta. I don't see mention of a monthly charge, yet.
  • Doomed to fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:20PM (#28839985)

    ...the game (which of course requires Silverlight to run) shows users a webpage and asks them to figure out a search query that should produce the page within the first 5 results.

    Gee, that sounds SO much more fun than playing the Sims! Not. reCAPTCHA works only because the user wants to get to what's after it, and doesn't require another downloaded plugin or frequent interaction. Guys, learn one of the great rules in IT: Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should. If you want to investigate user behavior, do what everybody else in the industry has done -- install malware onto the user's machines and track their habits. :\

    • Re:Doomed to fail (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday July 27, 2009 @01:02PM (#28840771) Journal

      Guys, learn one of the great rules in IT: Just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should.

      But as long as it has some users, its good info for MS. I wont be using it, and you probably wont be either, but there probably are people who like to try it out of interest. Maybe even now and then just to see random websites or whatever fun it gives them. Anoher great rule of IT: You can just leave it in the background and it doesn't affect your main business in any way. Microsoft and Bing are large enough to do quite random stuff and it will still have its users. And it goes along with Bing's strategy aswell -- Shoot there, shoot here, try out things and be innovative. So far its working great for them (hell, thats what google does too)

    • Dude, they already do the last bit. I even heard they have filtering ca!#%$#$%#^$&%#
      -----------NO CARRIER-----------
  • Sounds riveting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ickleberry (864871)

    shows users a webpage and asks them to figure out a search query that should produce the page within the first 5 results

    How much am I being paid? I suppose it is recession after all..

  • I've been taking a look at it and the thing that seems to stand out the most is that it's labeled Live Search. It hasn't adopted the Bing color scheme either. Did these guys not get the memo or something?
  • Gee, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:27PM (#28840117)

    I sure hope no one tells 4chan about this.

  • Will tune to gamers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:34PM (#28840289) Journal
    In theory, even if the venture is successul, what you will get is a search engine that understands gamers well. Is that going to improve your market share?
    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      In theory, even if the venture is successul, what you will get is a search engine that understands gamers well. Is that going to improve your market share?

      Why not? Even if it understands just gamers better, its another win in that market. Its not like this is their only source of information. Both Google and Bing have thousands of factors to count in to deliver search results -- this is just another one in the basket.

      • by EXTomar (78739)
        Because when soccer mom jumps into Bing! and searches for "halloween costume halo" they are going to be confronted with pages and pages and pages of Master Chief instead of a prop for their 5 year old. I'm not saying there isn't something to what you wrote that tuning it to something is better than nothing but if they go too far tuning it for one fringe audience, it turns Bing! into the thing Microsoft's comericals try to show us is bad: Internet meme babble.
  • fail? (Score:2, Funny)

    by postmortem (906676)
    In other words, Microsoft service does not have solution. Microsoft asks users to provide results for themselves...
  • Come up with a search to find the pages shown within 5 seconds?

    I'd settle for "lesbian kissing" not turning up 30,000 pages of BJ pictures.

  • Err... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Monday July 27, 2009 @12:39PM (#28840395) Homepage

    All this made me realise is how terrible Bing's search is. I mean... some of the queries failed to return the correct site, and I was literally "spelling it out" (full name of the page complete with some of the exact sentences/phrases on it).

    If anything, this just makes Bing seem like a lost cause - it made the 'game' seem unfair (the engine was failing, not me) and completely pointless

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DavidR1991 (1047748)

      I hate it when some moron takes it upon themselves to mod down legitimate complaints. Seriously - this was not some substance-less "LOL ITZ BAD" comment: all I noticed from this "game" was how terrible the query -> result relationship worked.

  • This would be easy to write as a regular web page, but NO they have to try and shove silverlight out in the wild yet again. Two missions accomplished in one shot. What will it take to make Silverlight go away? And yes, I am no fan of flash either.
  • Instead of asking users to label webpages, which would understandably bore them to death, they are asking them to come up with search queries that would have presented the page as a result! Genial! And we get to be introduced to Silverlight in the process! Sign me up.
    • by jpmorgan (517966) on Monday July 27, 2009 @01:06PM (#28840843) Homepage
      It's actually quite interesting that they're asking for search terms rather than simply labels. Search engines are the a form of machine learning, and a lot of ML research goes into improving them. So it's interesting to consider what Microsoft is asking, in the context of ML. For example, Google has a game where users play by tagging images. Obviously, they're using some sort of supervised classification algorithm under the hood. But with Bing they're not asking for 'tags,' which would imply a supervised classification system, but search queries which return the page. Now that suggests that Bing is actually built on a bayesian model, which is very different from Google's markov steady state (page rank) model.
  • This was my job about three years ago. I would sit at home while a client dished out web queries, and I identified which sites were good results (they were nearly always spam). I would need to judge each web page in about three seconds. This speed was figured so that I could keep up my required quota, while still taking many, many 6.5 minute breaks (this being the longest amount of time before the client automatically logged out). This job drove me crazy. After looking at thousands and thousands of spam-pag
  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday July 27, 2009 @01:02PM (#28840781) Homepage
    I've got better things to do with my time than to do MS' job for them while having to install Silverlight at the same time.

    Though without Silverlight, it may have been fun to come up with search queries for innocent things that involve gay animal sex, clown shoes and old people's inability to control their bowels.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday July 27, 2009 @01:29PM (#28841259) Homepage

    This "game" is about as much fun to play as those "fun with subtraction" pages in the fourth grade arithmetic book. It's bewildering, pointless, and laborious. And as nearly as I can tell there are no prizes. It's too clever by half.

    A straightforward feedback link asking whether an ordinary Bing search got you the results you wanted would surely be more effective. Better yet would be an option to submit failed Bing searches to a human being who would attempt to find the answer and email it to you.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Monday July 27, 2009 @01:32PM (#28841295)

    Or does Google already have the edge with SearchWiki, which lets searchers re-rank its results.

    Anybody who has used SearchWiki to re-rank Google results, hold you hand up. Up high. Keep 'em up. Anyone? I didn't think so.

    • I only used it once to try it out, and I'm sure everyone else who has used it did the same thing as me. Which of course it to make your own website number one :P

      But really, what is the point of doing that when you're the only person that will ever see it?
  • The director of this department is Alex Trebeck.

    When they happen on an AVI or WAV the score is doubled.

    The final round consists of a handwritten query and a wager of how many hits the target query will actually manifest.

    It is all so exciting. Exciting enough on which to base a TV show!

    -----------------

    Drive Fast. Take chances.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday July 27, 2009 @02:36PM (#28842299) Journal

    That last thing I need is "real people" screwing up the tags on a site. I recently got a new PC for home theater, and installed absolutely as little as possible on it (not even firefox - heresy, I know). I used the default search the first couple of times - forgetting that it wasn't google - and was amazed at how poorly the results came back. Even specific text known to be on the page (down to filenames I was trying to find for installing necessary codecs) wouldn't bring up the pages I needed. I can only assume that with (primarily) non-technical people typing in search keywords for pages it will just get worse.

    You might say that a decade and a half of old search engine technology has trained me to make computer-based queries, but damnit it works, and I don't look forward to the unwashed masses breaking it.

    • by pclminion (145572)

      You might say that a decade and a half of old search engine technology has trained me to make computer-based queries, but damnit it works, and I don't look forward to the unwashed masses breaking it.

      The unwashed masses are the ones who write the web pages. The web pages which Google's PageRank uses to figure out the relationships and rankings. Perhaps Bing can be manipulated in such and such a way, but so can Google. We all know the stories of manipulation of Google results by link spamming, Google Bombin

      • Oh, I'm not worried about spam pages - they're pretty easy to identify from the summary blurb in the search engines. I already ignore them almost completely. I realize that Bing is targeting idiots, I just hope that the demographic creep doesn't spread to good search sites. Bing sucks, by my experience, so it's not like it sucking worse - in a vacuum - will affect me. Of course, I thought that Yahoo existed so the people who were clueless could be identified by the rest of us (I will never hire anyone who

  • It looks like another case of MS completely missing the point... you're presented with a webpage, ex: the home page of www.exampleoftravelpage.com and asked to make it end up in the top five search results, so I search on "exampleoftravelpage.com" and other words that are actually on the front page, maybe like "Home" "current deals" etc.

    I get the page to come up #1 in the Bing search, but what have I proven? Only that I know a bunch of the words on the home page. Pretty much exactly the opposite of h
  • As if we want Silverlight... Gross! At least I have to hand it to Microsoft.... instead of just ignoring Linux users, or insulting them with "click here for the plugin" and being handed some useless .exe, you get this now:

    "Install Silverlight. Experience this in Silverlight Install the free Plug-in. Microsoft Silverlight may not be supported on your computer's hardware or operating system. If you are using a Linux, FreeBSD or SolarisOS operating system, please press the Click to Install button to get th

  • There are so many words that translate roughly to 'penis', that a concerted effort on the part of gay pron enthusiasts could do some serious damage to the research results of such a project. Not that I would ever condone such an effort, or encourage someone of considerable means to provide free dew, doritos, parking and a wireless hotspot in a major metropolitain area in support of it. That'd be unethical.
  • Search for +steve +chair on Bing ...

    First result: Steve's Chair Caning Service;Full service antique chair caning [steveemma.com]

    Options include:

    # HAND CANE
    # RUSH SEATING
    # SPLINT WORK
    # HONG KONG GRASS
    # FANCY PATTERNS
    # PRESS CANE
    # DANISH CORD

    Curiously, the copyright notice on Steve's page is:

    "© BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON"
  • Google's already implemented this for their image search: http://images.google.com/imagelabeler/ [google.com] Except no one can fuck up the tags because you're connected with another player and you have to guess the same tag. Bing = epic fail, I swear on my life, hope to die if I ever use it. :D
  • . . .supposed to be fun?

  • I came. I saw. I found five things. I went to Google. I found five things sorted by everyone else in the whole damn world to the top of a nearly useless commercial-cum-blogosphere popularity contest. Puhleeze. Make a librarian that understands cognitive differences. Let a thousand flowers bloom, to quote somebody. (Red Buttons?)
  • Google don't need suck kind of game, actually they're paying people (13euros/hour) to ameliorate their search results. I've done that in the past and even if it's quite hard to get in, it's easy and better paid than many jobs.

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