Monday, May 18, 2009

Wikibooks First!

I got a great email today from Cbrown1023. He did a Google search and a result from Wikibooks appeared first, even before any results from Wikipedia! What's funny is that it's not on a topic that I would consider to be a particular strength of our collection. Part of me hopes this page is not being heavily linked to as an example of the worst parts of Wikibooks, but when you see the page in question you might have that thought too. Another reminder of how much more work we need in order to make a great library of free books!

My next point of interest is to wonder why Cbrown1023 was searching for information about nuclear war? Do the WP people know something us WB folks don't?


  1. That's great news! The module itself is a very good (concise!) summary, which is probably why people find it useful. I can see how that'd be the resource of choice for someone studying for their grade 11 history exam or something - certainly in that case, Wikibooks offers something that doesn't. Even though the article is far more complete, there is something to be said for quickly rhyming off key points. There is certainly a place for that in a textbook (perhaps we should encourage that more) whereas there isn't much room for that in Wikipedia - it'd be unencyclopedic.

  2. I think you and Mike Lifeguard (one of the most powerful link-blockers on Wikimedia projects) are deluding yourselves if you think that content-usefulness is the key to this momentary SEO "victory". Very few sites are linking to the Wikibooks page in question:

    It's just the quirks of Google. Google falls in love with various aspects of different pages all the time. I have a feeling your page got the juice on this one because the keywords were each a part of the section headings on the page.

    On my site,, I'm often seeing a page come up #1 (ahead of Wikipedia) on a number of searches. For my site, I attribute that to two things:

    (1) I use Google AdSense on my site -- don't you think Google wants browsers clicking on their ads?

    (2) I use Semantic Mediawiki on my site -- I think Google engineers are hot for it.

    Search Google for 'Liz Cohen performance artist'. Where's Wikipedia? Where's my site?

    Search Google for 'shit on your neighbor'. Where's Wikipedia? Where's my site?

    I understand why you're happy with this progress that you feel like you're making. But, I'm just warning you (from experience), it will be fleeting. Google moves the goalposts every few weeks.

  3. What's most important is that by any metric, using any search parameters, Wikibooks topped the results at one point. It's nice to see our small site appearing at the top of any list for any reason, and I'm not going to be dismayed that this small victory is only a temporary one. I did mention in my post that I didn't think this page was of high enough quality to warrant such a good result, and I know for a fact that some of our better books and pages do appear regularly near the top of several searches.

    Doing a search for "Shit on your neighbor" may return your site above Wikipedia by a small margin, but search for the same game by it's real name, "Sheepshead", returns Wikipedia's result by a mile. And it's ranked so much higher for a much more populous search: a search for "Sheepshead" returns 200,000 more results then a search for "Shit on your neighbor". A search for just "Liz Cohen" likewise returns far more results, and features Wikipedia far more prominently, then a search for "Liz Cohen performance artist". As the Wikibooks Modern History book page shows, even low quality pages can end up at the top of the rankings for particular narrow searches.

    Also, Mike is a "powerful link blocker" because he's done a lot of good work on Wikimedia projects and the community respects his judgment. This is because he's demonstrated good judgment so frequently in the past. The quality of the work that you do has a direct correlation to the respect and authority that the community gives you.

  4. Fallacy: "Shit On Your Neighbor" is the same game as "Sheepshead".

    They're not the same game -- not by a long shot.

    Typical Wikipediot reaction, though -- assuming that Wikipedia is always right, and that the Wikipedia critic is always wrong.

  5. Ah, there it is. For a moment I was worried that I wouldn't be called any childish names today.

    what's funny is that the number one search result for "Shit on your neighbor" (which isn't, by the way, MyWikiBiz), states that it is a variant of Sheepshead. A quick search for "Sheepshead Shit on your neighbor" reveals a number of other sites that collaborate this relationship too. In fact, there are only two pages that I can find using that or any other search parameters that deny that relationship: Your comment on this very blog (yes, it's already being indexed) and the discussion on Wikipedia Review where your name is featured pretty prominently. It's my experience that the "everybody is wrong but me" sentiment is usually an inversion of the truth.