Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bing vs. Google, The Showdown

So I've been seeing these ads lately for Bing.com. If you haven't seen these ads they're about how search overload -getting tons of search results that are only peripherally related to your search- is ruining us and this new Bing, the decision engine is here to save us. As you may expect, they are every bit as relatable as a punch in the face.

So it's easy to dismiss Bing. I'll admit I don't have high hopes for this thing, but I can't stop at that. If I stopped here I'd be just like every other lame opinion blog delivering half the story. No, that's not what this blog is about. This blog is about video games, Vladimir Putin shirtless, and large black men screaming obscenities at children. So I made up my mind to test out Bing and more importantly, I would make a side-by-side comparison with Google. Here goes.

Getting Started
I may have slept through most of seventh grade science, but I stayed awake just long enough to know you're supposed to begin any experiment by stating your expectations going in. So let me start by saying I've never had much trouble with Google, and I don't think a lot of other people have either. Yes any search will likely net you 200,000 irrelevant matches, but the top ten, twenty, or even five hundred are usually worthwhile.

Honestly, I expect Bing to be nothing new. The idea is to stop irrelevant search results, so it's probably going to be exactly like Google, only cutting off about 90% of the results. Let's find out.

Test 1
In the commercial the first victim of search overload is a young woman who tells her friend she needs a new place to eat breakfast, only to have her friend shoot back "The Breakfast Club!" So that seems as good a place to start as any. I went to both Google and Bing and typed in "where can I find a good place to eat breakfast?"

Google
Results: 33,200,000
Google's number one result was "Yahoo! Answers - Where's a good place to eat breakfast?" This is a question and answer page where a man from San Jose, California asks where to go instead of Denny's or IHOP and is given a list of pancake restaurants in San Jose. Okay, not so useful if you're not from San Jose. Second was a best place to eat breakfast top ten list, then the next few were the best places to eat breakfast in Bristol, Johnston City, New Orleans, and a town in Oregon called Eugene. I decided to see how long it took me to find "The Breakfast Club" but gave up on page 11. I did, however, pass by "Help - 1 Year Old Won't Eat Breakfast or Lunch!?" and "Eat a good breakfast to start a good day - Science Update." So there's some irrelevant results.

Bing
Results: 12,500,000
Okay, the list of results definitely got slimmed down, by 20,700,000 to be exact. Let's see if that left us with more relevant information. The number one result is "Hong Kong - Where to Eat?" followed by a list of restaurants in various cities, just like the Google results. I did get an irrelevant entry - "Tips on Eating a Quick and Healthy Lunch" - on page one. Page three has "5 Ways to Easily Improve Your Breakfast."

Test 2
I don't believe I can really call this one for either side. I put in a lot of words that could have easily been picked out and given me irrelevant nonsense. The fact that I got mostly breakfast restaurants says a lot for our search engine technology, even if it was all useless to me since none of it was in my town. Still, this was my fault. I was too vague. Let's go simple. I decided to type in "dinosaurs." We'll pretend it's for a project or something.

Google
Results: 16,300,000
After a handful of awesome pictures of dinosaurs roaring I got the Wikipedia page on Dinosaurs as my first result, followed by "Zoom Dinosaurs" at a website called "Enchanted Learning." It gave me a bunch more pages on dinosaurs, some videos, and a list of related search topics. I got my first irrelevant result -qwantz.com's Dinosaur Comics (irrelevant, but awesome, by the way)- on page two.

Bing
Results: 8,850,000
Believe it or not the first two results were exactly the same on Bing. From there it was mostly the same results, but in a different order. It also gave me an irrelevant result on page one: the Wikipedia page on the Dinosaurs TV show. I got my second irrelevant result on page 5, but to be fair that's only because I consider anything from Conservapedia to be irrelevant.

Test 3
It looks like Google won that round, waiting until page two to go irrelevant. Also, that list of related search suggestions -which I found only on Google, not Bing- could possibly be a real help to my imaginary science fair project. I don't want to make this too long, so let's end on something pretty much everyone is going to search for. My search entry into Google and Bing: "hot asian lesbians."

Google
Results: 2,720,000
I got porn right off the start and right on Google with two thumbnail pictures of cute asian girls kissing, actually still shots from a clip on Video Google. This is followed by a website called YouPorn, which I am going to go ahead and assume is the porno version of YouTube. (Fun related fact: Firefox's spell check does apparently not recognize YouTube as a word. Suck it, YouTube!) This is followed immediately by porn on Youtube. Seriously, YouPorn, you made a version of YouTube that has porn? Hey, maybe next you can make your own version of the XBox 360, only have it play video games!

Bing
Results: 203,000,000
Bing gave me pretty much the same results as Google, only without pushing Video Google on me first. It started me off with YouPorn, then gave me YouTube a few entries down. Pretty much standard. Oddly enough, even though I got way less results on Bing then I got on Google for every other search, I actually ended up getting way, way, WAY more results from Bing on this search. Given that I made sure to turn off Google's SafeSearch feature prior to making this search, I can not explain these results and am forced to assume that Bing simply digs asians.

Conclusion
Bing is a search engine. No, really, it is. It's not really any better or worse than Google, though it does lack a few features that Google has. As for being a "decision engine" that will help to defeat "search overload," I came across a fairly equal amount of irrelevant results on both engines so yeah, that's BS. Furthermore, does it even matter? Even if you suffer from crippling ADD I still sincerely doubt the few irrelevant results I got would be anything more than...no, they wouldn't even be a minor inconvenience. They're pure, undiluted, meaningless.

Still, I know there are people out there who are going to like Bing simply because it's not Google. Google started out awesome, it was simply the best search engine, but now it's gotten bloated, full of itself. It's time to take on the man! Time to switch to--oh, wait. Bing is owned and operated by Microsoft. Nevermind. The revolution is off.

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