Google to Crowdsource Recommendations?

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In the past few weeks, Google has introduced a recommendation bar to Google Plus, and Facebook has introduced their own recommendation bar as well. The Facebook recommendation bar appears like it will only show up when you’re on Facebook at this point, but the Google Recommendation Bar will appear when you hover over a “g +1” button on a site that you’re visiting, and will show you recommendations from that site.

A Google patent application that came out last week showed a different variation of a recommendation bar, and a screenshot from the patent filing shows what could have been, or might be sometime in the future. Here’s a glimpse:

In addition to providing recommendations, the interface from this patent filing will also let you vote up and vote down content from the site and from other sites as well. The patent filing is:

Web-Wide Content Quality Crowd Sourcing
Invented by Leon G. Palm, Doug Coker, Colby D. Ranger, Daniel J. Berlin, Helen V. Hunt, Ethan C. Ambabo, and John D. Westbrook
US Patent Application 20120197979
Published August 2, 2012
Filed: January 23, 2012


Method, computer-readable media, and systems for centralizing votes submitted for content items hosted on multiple distinct and uncoordinated content sources, and ranking the content items against one another across the multiple distinct and uncoordinated content sources based on the centralized votes are disclosed.

Recommendations of content items hosted by an original content source can be provided to users on the content interfaces of other content sources and additional votes for the recommended content items can be collected through the voting controls accompanying the recommend content items on the content interfaces of these other content sources.

We’re told in the patent filing that the kinds of content that could be used with such a recommendation system could include a wide range of content types including blog posts, images, music files, articles, news items, advertisements for items on sale, from sources such as websites, blogs, online discussion boards, gaming communities, market place type sites, and other forums.

The voting/recommendation interface is something that a site owner could possibly insert via some java script code, though the patent filing provides a lot of different possible implementations for providing this kind of crowdsourced recommendation system. It also provides a lot of variations in how it could potentially be set up, such as allowing for votes to be anonymized in some cases, or show who voted for what in others.

Google has already decided to start showing recommendations on sites when someone hovers over a G +1 button. Will they provide the crowdsourced version of recommendations described in this new patent filing? Is it something that site owners will install on their sites? Is it something that will be abused by the visitors to a site, or is it something that people will find fun, interesting, and helpful?

Is this Google’s answer to the demise of Digg?

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16 thoughts on “Google to Crowdsource Recommendations?”

  1. Pingback: Google to Crowdsource Recommendations? -
  2. Google is really loving this “social style” voting system for “enhancing” their search results, and this recommendation bar is simply another step in that direction.

    If this is something that webmasters coul monetize I could see them installing it on their sites…if not, then most likely the majority of webmasters will consider it to be little more than a traffic leak.

    I’m going to try and find out.

    Thanks Bill,


  3. I like the idea of a voting system with the recommendation bar; it’s sort-of reminiscent of YouTube. My only concern is that wherever there is a voting bar based on a simple ‘like’ or ‘dislike’, there are always trolls involved, which could provide people with an unjust and misleading view of their website.

  4. I feel too embedded in the industry to appreciate something like this — but I’m curious if to your average user this will end up being pretty cool. Sometimes I try my very hardest to block out my work and surf like an average user; puts a nice perspective on things

  5. I do think these recommendations will influence the content that gets clicked on by those visiting the recommendations screen, manipulation of these recommendations will obviously become a temptation for many.

  6. I think Google wins in the design department. Ever since Bing announced their Facebook integration into their search I always figured it would be a matter of time before Google did it.

  7. Interesting to see the new recommendations from Google. Google is following a newer plus one approach here and allowing the users to see more recommendations. Waiting to see when it gets launched.

  8. People will always find away to abuse the system for personal gain. Its up to google and facebook to monitor it and find aways to stop those who do. Like what pinterest did with the amazon affiliate links on the pictures.

  9. The addition of a recommendation bar and the voting system is a wonderful addition to all these social websites. The voting system will definitely help other people to better understand the quality of the information without reading all of it. One thing that concerns me is that some people hit the dislike button without having an issue with the content This might affect the number of people that go through that particular information.

  10. On one hand, I think this could be a fantastic idea if done right. In an ideal world, pages/websites that really are related to the current page would be recommended. But on the other hand, the world isn’t ideal and I’m sure people will find a way to abuse the system and take advantage of it.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Google has in store for us!

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