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Sunday, October 12, 2003

Yahoo Buzz Index Weighted by Omissions 

Search Engine trackers are the utilities that show what subjects people are looking for on the internet. They might be useful to judge the general public mood and effectiveness of advertising. They could also show trends in language, reflect changing ideas, or help predict interest in an upcoming sports event.

Yahoo Buzz Index tracks the strange words people type into their search engine and makes available a weekly list of the top twenty most queried subjects. Here is their list for this past week ending October 12th:

  1. Halloween

  2. Britney Spears

  3. Sigfried and Roy

  4. Fifty Cent

  5. NFL

  6. Jennifer Lopez

  7. Chicago Cubs

  8. Christina Aguilara

  9. Kazaa

  10. Linkin Park

  11. Boston Red Socks

  12. Beyonce Knowles

  13. Eminem

  14. R. Kelly

  15. Kaaza Lite

  16. NASCAR

  17. Chingy

  18. Roy Horn

  19. Ludachris

  20. Kill Bill


Is anything filtered out? "Company names (such as Yahoo!), utilities and formats (email, MP3), and general terms (movies, downloads, football) are filtered out by the editors of the Yahoo! Buzz Index", according to their frequently asked questions.

They proceed "The editors' goal is to list subjects that are interesting to the broadest possible audience. To this end, terms related to adults-only content are also excluded. In some cases, the editors may also exclude terms that they believe have been elevated by similarity to unrelated popular terms. For example, the movie The Rock might be excluded if the buzz was determined to be solely generated by interest in the WWF star, The Rock."

Reprising the list they give, Yahoo Buzz omits these:
A. Company Names
B. Computer Utilities
C. Computer Formats
D. General Terms
E. Adult Content
F. similar but unrelated terms

This means the Yahoo Buzz is not really what people want, but what Yahoo thinks we want to see. Use this service only if you want a revisionist list of popularity skewed toward what Yahoo wants you to like.
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