August 12, 2008

MyBlogLog/FriendFeed Integration Fouling Up Google Vanity Searches

Practically every blogger performs regular "vanity searches" to see if they were mentioned on the Web. Some use Technorati, others, Google Blog Search, or Twitter Search. And Google has made it very easy to get alerted via e-mail if your name has been mentioned out in the blogosphere. But recent efforts by MyBlogLog's "New With Me" feature, integrated with FriendFeed, have resulted in an overflow of useless updates, whether you're searching for yourself, or anybody else active on both sites, adding a flood of noise to what used to be actionable search results.

My pre-saved Google Blog Search watches the Web for me.

In February, MyBlogLog made a big move into the lifestreaming space, by doing more than tabulating fans of your content and tagging your blog with keywords, but letting you see your friends' activity around the Web, including their participation on Twitter,, Digg and other social sites.

In May, no doubt in response to users' requests, MyBlogLog added the ability to show FriendFeed comments and likes in their lifestream, adding the popular social aggregator as a supported service.

That sounded good on the surface. Now, by going to my MyBlogLog page, I can see activity from my "friends" on FriendFeed, as well as the other previously-supported services.

My Google Blog Search Alerts Stopped Being Useful

But then, Google Blog Search started indexing MyBlogLog's updates as equal to actual individual blog entries. This meant I started to get results in vanity searches, and those sent by e-mail for things as mundane as "Louis Gray commented" or "Louis Gray listened to a track". And it wasn't just my activity, but others. Every few hours, I would get e-mail reporting, "Spullara commented", or "Corvida shared an item", for example. If they were commenting on my items or sharing my items on FriendFeed, MyBlogLog heard about it, and told Google, who then told me.

MyBlogLog Delivers FriendFeed Activity to Google Blog Search.

Clearly, this isn't the end of the world. But it's messy, and it's taken what used to be a fairly rock-solid service, in Google Blog Search and Alerts and made it a lot less useable. While I have no doubts that I'm overweighted with this problem, thanks to being more active and visible on FriendFeed, others I tested showed the same issues, including the aforementioned Corvida, Chris Pirillo, Duncan Riley, and Sarah Perez, for example.

Some people have openly expressed concern about how services are auto-populating and aggregating outside activity, creating an echo effect. This is one of the clearest examples of unintended consequences. So what should happen? Should Google Blog Search remove MyBlogLog results, or should MyBlogLog remove FriendFeed entries? Which service should make the first move if any move is needed?