Addicted to novelty since 2001

MSN Search is Learning in Real Time?

This is kind of freaking me out. Just yesterday, I wrote about MSN’s new search engine and how, after asking a number of natural language queries, I thought Google was superior. Dave Winer pointed to a discussion topic on the BloggerCon site about MSN Search. I posted my thoughts there.

Two hours later, Michele commented on the BloggerCon thread to say “I tried Darren’s queries just now and the last two natural language questions both answered correctly, comparable to Google, mostly identical. Ford Prefect gives Wikipedia on MSN now too, for example.” Indeed it does. The Stan Smyl results have improved as well. Slashdot cites this article that suggests that MSN may be ‘borrowing’ Google’s results. Could this be what’s happening? Are there other plausible explanations for MSN Search being able to ‘learn’ this quickly (the results changed significantly in about 10 hours)?

Regardless of their tactics, I’m impressed that MSN Search is evolving so rapidly. I have been currently bounced to third in the Darren sweepstakes, though.

UPDATE: Via Metafilter, the BBC has run a little search engine shoot-out.

3 Responses to “MSN Search is Learning in Real Time?”

  1. soney

    In fairness, that’s rubbish Darren. There is no way that MSN Search learns in Real Time.

  2. Jeff Running

    It’s not rubbish. Think of it this way, every time you search you select the links that will most likely provide the information you are searching for based on the summary text. All you would have to do as a search engine is use that information to help refine the ranking order of the results.

    I’m not saying this is what is happening but it’s a relatively simple concept. You could test it by searching for Darren and selecting his link. If it’s true and enough others followed he would climb.

    The changing results might also just be random. Just because Google seems to keep the same results for a month until the Google Dance begins does not require MSN to also have static results.

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