Andy Edmonds and Erik Selberg - Frank talk about MSN Search

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Andy Edmonds, lead program manager, and Erik Selberg are two of the geeks who work on making MSN Search better. They talk about how the engine works, and what they're doing to beat the competition. Watch me give them a bit of heck about being behind the other major engines. You'll enjoy this frank talk from the team.

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    The Discussion

    • User profile image
      Nata1
      Finally - we had to wait forever for this one Smiley

      Lots of good stuff to watch over and over - if anyone wants to learn about some interesting search topics like aggregation and query expansion, check out one of Erik's papers on his site.

      He created the Metacrawler btw which is what InfoSpace is based on (before the mobile stuff came around) - alot of the InfoSpace guys worked for him, and man - is it depressing over there.  Probably because they can't go work for MSN.

      Subscribe to the most interesting MS blog imho Smiley over at www.selberg.org my favorite feed other than dilbert
    • User profile image
      Devils​Rejection
      This should be fun! Downloadng it right now... can't wait to see Scoble tear them a new one when he talks about the other players on the market.
    • User profile image
      Compiled​Monkey
      Interesting, that DestroyWindow search comes up in Google as #1. Tongue Out
    • User profile image
      pdileepa
      Feature request to the MSN Search and MSN Newsbot teams:
      The ability to get categorized news links through email.
      The ability to get news links based on topics of interest through email (like in Google news).

      And BTW, are the search and newbot teams one and the same or are they different? Can you do a video on MSN newbot too? The newbot is very good.
    • User profile image
      Lorin
      Hmmm, "offshoring" brings up Scoble's site as #5, even though he says "I'm no expert in offshoring."  In that respect, I hope this "neural net" thing, although intentionally obscure in its description during the video, is able to parse the language of the page itself similar to how a human would, and understand to a degree what concepts are being presented from the site.  Then rank links accordingly.  It's one thing to do as Google does and simply rank search terms higher based on how many people reference them.  That's easy, just counting references.  And then you're suceptible to people exploiting it, as with the "miserable failure" bug.  But to actually parse the thought on the page, that's hard, and that's where it will become amazing.  Just as these guys are saying, that will weed out the splogs, and offer much better specificity.

      Another powerful thing with a true AI type of neural net: when it sees the title "random thoughts", it should toss that out as a "noise concept" (for lack of a better term), and look deeper into the page for more of the meat.

      I'll close with a little bug report, an easy thing to fix: with IE6 when you bring up the Settings screen, then show the Search Builder DIV, you've got the bug with an underlying SELECT (named setlang in this case) showing up over the popup DIV:




      I had this problem on one of my pages a couple years ago.  In the file common.js if you put this in the function toggleQB(), it should take care of the issue:

        sl=document.getElementById('setlang');
        if(sl)sl.style.visibility=show?'hidden':'visible';

      Best of luck with this groovy AI project, guys!

      -Lorin Thwaits
    • User profile image
      ricodued
      I like how he's using Firefox Wink

      At least he makes sure it works right in more than one browser Tongue Out

      -Eric
    • User profile image
      easy_coder
      I'm not so sure I agree with Andys commments that msn does a better job with the msdn content.

      Search msn for InStr and you won't find the msdn in the first 50 results. Search google for InStr and the msdn site is returned 1st.
    • User profile image
      fooey
      I got a weird vibe from this. When I think Google, I think of a huge company with 4000+ employees working on search realted products and services. Then I see this video, and I think "MSN Search - 2 guys in an office." Not the best advertising, is it? Perplexed

    • User profile image
      fooey

      There's much to be said for form following function, but tell me, "Where's the form?" Where are the UI and graphic people? MSN Search is just a visually ugly product. I can hardly stand to look at it.

      I think if the interface was much cleaner - doesn't have to be as sparse as Google, just cleaner - people might actually use it.

      The ad looks better the product: http://www.searchenginelowdown.com/images/msn-search-email.gif

      This is just ick. Color gradients and bright colors and fat buttons and . . . it's just not serious: http://www.komotv.com/news/images/msn_search_020105.jpg

      I also think MS should spin off the entire product, not unlike Expedia. I would love to be able to type a few character and press CTRL + ENTER instead of the "search.msn.com", which is 8 characters more than "google".

    • User profile image
      scobleizer
      fooey wrote:
      I got a weird vibe from this. When I think Google, I think of a huge company with 4000+ employees working on search realted products and services. Then I see this video, and I think "MSN Search - 2 guys in an office." Not the best advertising, is it?



      Fooey: if there were only two people working at MSN that'd be worth something talking about! We should do a tour of MSN Search and get more people on.
    • User profile image
      Nata1
      Scoble - that would be a great idea - so far the only thing that's come out of MSoft on the search side that's impressed me has been Selberg's work, and the Virtual Earth team has impressed me as well.

      I'm sure there's got to be some other impressive people over there... ???
    • User profile image
      scobleizer
      Nata1 wrote:
      Scoble - that would be a great idea - so far the only thing that's come out of MSoft on the search side that's impressed me has been Selberg's work, and the Virtual Earth team has impressed me as well.

      I'm sure there's got to be some other impressive people over there... ???


      Yes, there are quite a few. We'll get more of them on.
    • User profile image
      TravisOwens
      fooey wrote:
      I got a weird vibe from this. When I think Google, I think of a huge company with 4000+ employees working on search realted products and services. Then I see this video, and I think "MSN Search - 2 guys in an office." Not the best advertising, is it?
      If you haven't noticed, EVERY video features 1 or 2 guys (I've never seen more than 4 or 5).  But these projects have dozens of developers working on them, it's just that only the Project Managers from each project are on the video.

      If you think only 2 people create MSN Search, then you'll have to believe only 2 guys make MS Office (with it's 10 million lines of code) and only 5 guys create Visual Studio with all of it's features and languages.
    • User profile image
      TravisOwens
      Scoble,

      I wanted to point out at the 12 minute mark you come to a realization that I have been preaching for over a year and no search engine has touched on yet (except Lycos).

      I truly believe the future of search engines is NOT in the list format we currently use, imho it's time that somebody creates a rich search engine that takes the keyword and realizes what do do with it.

      If I type in the term "Terminator" I should get boxed sets of results and the neural net realizes Terminator is both a movie (so 1 box of movie reviews, 1 box of places to buy DVDs, 1 box of movie info).

      The only search engine that has done this (and it seems nobody realizes the power of it) is Lycos.  Go search for "Beatles" and look an the right of the screen.  This is the beginning of what I'm talking about.
    • User profile image
      sriharicit
      Hi Andy & Erik,
      This talk on msn search very useful.
      It helped me explore all the capabilities of MSN Search especially the search builder which gives us some knobs to control the results we get.

      Thanks for sharing the information
      - Hari
      alias: sriharip

    • User profile image
      puneetspeed

      Good work. As Bill said Compete (with Google) dont delete (G) Wink.
      Find my comments here Big Smile

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