Thursday, March 29, 2007

Advanced Query Syntax Ban at Microsoft's Live Search

In my recent post "MS Live Link Command Broken or am I just Banned?" I pointed out that the "link:" command wasn't working over at MSN. After checking around on various search forums and blogs I discovered that this problem was something that was affecting all of MSN's users.

Well, yesterday Eytan Seidman the Lead Program Manager of Live Search over at Microsoft posted on the Live Search Blog that this was done on purpose and was not an error.

In the post Eytan states "We have been seeing broad use of these features by legitimate users but unfortunately also what appears to be mass automated usage for data mining".

If Live is experiencing automated queries (and I'm sure that they are) then this is totally understandable. Using "Advanced Query Syntax" to research websites is an extremely valuable tool, so valuable in fact that I'm sure there are a lot of unethical people out there who would want to leverage automated processes to gather this data.

These types of tools are for personal use and not an invitation for script kiddies to bombard Live's servers with endless automated queries.

Eytan goes on to state "We have a few good ideas up our sleeve on how to enable this, but want to make sure we are making the right changes that will give you the functionality you want and all of our customers the experience they deserve".

I wonder what methods they'll employ? Perhaps advanced query syntax searches will require a login? Perhaps Live will start aggressively banning IP addresses? Perhaps you'll have to verify the query through image verification?

In any case, I understand that the few will most often ruin it for the many so I welcome Live's efforts to put the breaks on abusive automated queries.

On some level I almost want to see Live start to sell this data. If there are rampant problems with people trying to harvest Live's data perhaps there's a market there? This might be a good way to engage webmasters with Live and perhaps drive advertising. Maybe webmasters could get a certain volume of link data once you spend a certain dollar amount advertising at Live?

By all accounts Live's advanced syntax query tools are very helpful. I think it's time Live started leveraging that value to drive advertising spend.

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