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Searching the internet for authenticity: Cutting Through the Noise

·3 mins
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Clément Sauvage
Clément Sauvage
I like to make softwares

The degradation of search results #

One situation every Software developer has lived, is scrolling through the results of Google in the hope the specific issue you just encountered has been posted by someone, and they documented the solution/got answers on how to solve this issue.

What we are looking for is someone that has been in our situation, asked about the issue, with an extensive context and an analysis of what might be happening, and answers provided by the author or by someone who generously offered his time to enlighten the community.

I usually found the answers to my questions on stack overflow, which is a notorious website for developers now. But more and more, I began to find myself encountering these websites that seemed to have the exact same content than Stack Overflow. People on Hacker News encountered the same issue, and it’s not so recent.

It seems like more and more of my searches for software and tech related issue also led me to SEO optimized blog, which goals are to increase the website authority in Google or to advertise a solution/product. These could be ok, if SEO optimized didn’t mean that the article gives me the context of what is kafka, why to use it, the basics of it, etc… when I have one simple issue with it.

In these articles, the valuable information is drowned in a sea of content that is here more to please Google’s bot than the reader. If the information is even present, because some people can game the search engines so good, they don’t need the actual answer to the query to rank highly.

Even now, with more and more AI generated content being spread all over the internet, it feels like quantity primes over quality in the content. It can be exhausting to navigate through this sea of low quality attention grabbing content.

Searching for authenticity #

I find that authentic exchanges between real people, or catered content by authority, to be the best way to find back the quality I have lost.

One thing I started to do unconsciously, was to search for information on google, but by appending in order to find results on Reddit only (I don’t like Reddit’s SE). You can do that with specifics Subreddits too. This gives me results that are usually of decent quality for when I want a more authentic content than on a random website on Google. People vote up or down each others answers, and the community does a decent job at ranking the quality answers.

For tech specific topics, I also do these types of researches on Hacker News. There is a demo from Algolia that allows to search quickly in the HN posts.

I am offsetting the work to tricks, but maybe Google and the search engines are to blame. Some alternative SE are on the rise, and I have yet to test, them. Like Kagi, that seems promising and from which I only read positive comments about.