MSN Search – New and Improved

Read about New MSN search @ /. and then read its review on Abhi’s Blog.

I don’t agree with the review completely, even though I am a google fan.

So, I did a similar testing, but included Yahoo to the list with the keywords britney spears.


yes, MSN produces about 10k results whereas Google produces 125k and yahoo produces 110k.

I don’t think MSN should produce 10k results without any reason. I personally don’t think that Britney would have more than 10k pictures online (or may be offline too?)

What I noticed was that, MSN’s search had images from only a few sites. I randomly checked few pages upto page number 20 and found that the images 20*20 = 400 images were only from 3 domains :| 5in9.com, celebritypicturesarchive.com and nabou.com. This is totally weird as it doesn’t seem like a search engine, but a collection of few online galleries. It seems like they haven’t indexed the images but have used a froogle like concept (may be thats what they are upto.) or one of their employees went to different online galleries and added the galleries to be indexed and then indexed them. Also a lot of wallpaper kind of images are indexed. There is a series of 2 or 3 images shown adjacent to each other. The only differene is their size, like 640 X 480, 800 X 600, 1024 X 768.

The links from celebritypicturesarvhive.com are mismatching. The thumbnails point to a wrong picture. There are a lot of them like these, which makes one think that it is something like froogle, where the webmaster of the gallery got some error in counting the offset of the image thumbnail and the actual link.

Apperantly, I noticed that out of first 8 results on Google, 2 pair of images were very similar. I think they should try to avoid the repetition in the results (atleast on the same page.)

Abhi claims that MSN search does not have a content filter, which is not true. MSN search engine DOES have a content filter, which actually works better than Google.

You might wanna checkout these screenshots:

Yahoo, Google (Warning: image contains nudity), MSN.

You can note that all of the three search engines were set to the highest leve of content filteration (or safe search) and both Yahoo and MSN are set to Black & White images while Google is set to Grayscale. It is very technical and accurate when Google claims that those images are grayscale, while it shows only dichromatic images when black and white mode is set.

The difference between grayscale and black and white images MIGHT confuse a layman as the grayscaled images are generally called black & white images. Yahoo and MSN are taking search for dummies approach.

I understand that no software can be 100% accurate in checking explicit stuff, but Google doesn’t say that on the settings page. Both Yahoo and MSN have put the disclaimers by their safe search settings and in MSN & Yahoo if you try to remove the content filtering, it asks you to “Agree” a disclaimer. This doesn’t affect the user experience a lot, but can definetly avoid lawsuits.

I also noticed something really interesting. Yahoo has a “SafeSearch Lock” which is only available to Yahoo members (every other net user is a Yahoo member.) MSN search doesn’t provide a Lock kind of option, but it doesn’t control the safe search through the URL passed.

For example if I search something in no-filtering mode and copy paste the resulting URL on a website. When someone clicks it with settings = strict-filtering, his settings are not changed. The results are displayed in the strict-filtering mode. So I believe, MSN is using cookies for this purpose. There might be some way to change the mode through the url (I didn’t check if any exists), but it is atleast not in the MSN generated URL.

On the other hand Google produces a link with a parameter “safe” if safe=active it means the safe search is on, but if safe=off then it means no filtering at all. It is really a cool feature as one can customize the searches and even use them dynamically. The only problem with this is that it overrides the user’s settings.

So for the above mentioned example, it will show the non-filtered results to anybody who clicks that link, irrespective of their settings own their computers. This is really harmful if a kid is using a computer, or if you have saved “safe search” on your office PC and click that link.

What I would like Google to do is, somehow check the two values (on saved on the computer and the one passed in the url) and prompt the user with a notification that the mode requested is different from their prefrence.

I agree with most of other things Abhi talks about the page loading and results.

If I have to check spelling of a word, I just google it and Google gives me the right spelling :). I also like Yahoo’s Also try: … feature. I always use Google and while writing this post I might have used it about 7-8 times., but most of the time Google doesn’t help me with image search. Yahoo/Altavista are generally a better bet for image search.

It is really hard for me to completely review and deduce a conclusion out of this information. It would take a lot of time and research to find out something substantial. I have simply listed and compared only a few features of the SEs.

The information provided can be wrong or accurate, if you come across something which is not right, then do let me know.

Update: I read some of the comments at slashdot and found that I made an error. I didn’t realise that while searching MSN, I had the “Group results from the same site.” option checked. If the option is unchecked, it shows different results. But their isn’t a big variation.

My whole point about the only 3 sites was that, perhaps MSN is not indexing the images, but getting feeds from certain websites. It would be a new concept in image search as most of the people who search for “brtney spears” are expecting to see her images and may be not what
yahoo shows.

This approach has a limitation, as only celebs, cities, tourist spots’ images are generally found in image galleries and the search engine will have to index a lot of other images. If MSN is not using this approach, then I think, someone else should.

The story published on slashdot was not exactly how I submitted it.

You should follow me on Twitter at @gsharma.
  • http://www.deydas.com/ abhi

    good review. however, i would like to discuss some points here:

    I personally don’t think that Britney would have more than 10k pictures online (or may be offline too?)

    I am confused here, why would you think so, Britney has millions of pictures on the web and Google is a living proof of it.

    The links from celebritypicturesarvhive.com are mismatching. The thumbnails point to a wrong picture.

    You cannot really blame a search engine for that, the images are shown from the search engine cache and if the page has not been indexed after it was changed, this is bound to happen. it happens with Google too.

    Apperantly, I noticed that out of first 8 results on Google, 2 pair of images were very similar. I think they should try to avoid the repetition in the results (atleast on the same page.)

    They are most probably the same image under two different names, hence indexed twice but I could be wrong. Also you may see that the file sizes are different, one is 14k and the other 15k.

    Abhi claims that MSN search does not have a content filter, which is not true. MSN search engine DOES have a content filter, which actually works better than Google.

    I have already talked about the mistake here.

    The difference between grayscale and black and white images MIGHT confuse a layman as the grayscaled images are generally called black & white images. Yahoo and MSN are taking search for dummies approach.

    That’s right, thanks for the point… :)

    I understand that no software can be 100% accurate in checking explicit stuff, but Google doesn’t say that on the settings page. Both Yahoo and MSN have put the disclaimers by their safe search settings and in MSN & Yahoo if you try to remove the content filtering, it asks you to “Agree” a disclaimer. This doesn’t affect the user experience a lot, but can definetly avoid lawsuits.

    Yup, always avoid the green legal monster… ;)

    On the other hand Google produces a link with a parameter “safe” if safe=active it means the safe search is on, but if safe=off then it means no filtering at all. It is really a cool feature as one can customize the searches and even use them dynamically. The only problem with this is that it overrides the user’s settings.

    Thanks for this point too… :)

    Well that’s all, I guess. and thanks for pointing out the points missed and the errors… :)

  • http://www.deydas.com/ abhi

    good review. however, i would like to discuss some points here:

    I personally don’t think that Britney would have more than 10k pictures online (or may be offline too?)

    I am confused here, why would you think so, Britney has millions of pictures on the web and Google is a living proof of it.

    The links from celebritypicturesarvhive.com are mismatching. The thumbnails point to a wrong picture.

    You cannot really blame a search engine for that, the images are shown from the search engine cache and if the page has not been indexed after it was changed, this is bound to happen. it happens with Google too.

    Apperantly, I noticed that out of first 8 results on Google, 2 pair of images were very similar. I think they should try to avoid the repetition in the results (atleast on the same page.)

    They are most probably the same image under two different names, hence indexed twice but I could be wrong. Also you may see that the file sizes are different, one is 14k and the other 15k.

    Abhi claims that MSN search does not have a content filter, which is not true. MSN search engine DOES have a content filter, which actually works better than Google.

    I have already talked about the mistake here.

    The difference between grayscale and black and white images MIGHT confuse a layman as the grayscaled images are generally called black & white images. Yahoo and MSN are taking search for dummies approach.

    That’s right, thanks for the point… :)

    I understand that no software can be 100% accurate in checking explicit stuff, but Google doesn’t say that on the settings page. Both Yahoo and MSN have put the disclaimers by their safe search settings and in MSN & Yahoo if you try to remove the content filtering, it asks you to “Agree” a disclaimer. This doesn’t affect the user experience a lot, but can definetly avoid lawsuits.

    Yup, always avoid the green legal monster… ;)

    On the other hand Google produces a link with a parameter “safe” if safe=active it means the safe search is on, but if safe=off then it means no filtering at all. It is really a cool feature as one can customize the searches and even use them dynamically. The only problem with this is that it overrides the user’s settings.

    Thanks for this point too… :)

    Well that’s all, I guess. and thanks for pointing out the points missed and the errors… :)

  • http://www.neerajpoonam.com/wp Poonam

    interesting..only one comment but 630 visits! wow :smile:

  • http://www.neerajpoonam.com/wp Poonam

    interesting..only one comment but 630 visits! wow :smile:

  • http://www.thinkmantra.com Gaurav

    Poonam – Actually its on /. :D

    Abhi – I haven’t read your comment, will reply later.

  • http://www.gsharma.com Gaurav

    Poonam – Actually its on /. :D

    Abhi – I haven’t read your comment, will reply later.

  • http://www.gofish.com Tom Strong

    How about a comparison to another multimedia search engine like http://www.gofish.com.

  • http://www.gofish.com Tom Strong

    How about a comparison to another multimedia search engine like http://www.gofish.com.

  • http://www.thinkmantra.com Gaurav

    >good review. however, i would like >to discuss some points here:

    Thanks!

    >I am confused here, why would you >think so, Britney has millions of >pictures on the web and Google is a >living proof of it.

    Actually it would have been appropriate if I wrote unique. A lot of time same image is used in various wallpapers…etc, may be she has a lot more. It was just a guess

    >You cannot really blame a search >engine for that, the images are >shown from the search engine cache >and if the page has not been indexed >after it was changed, this is bound >to happen. it happens with Google >too.

    I am not blaming MSN for that, but suggesting that it is possible that, it may not be really indexed but some kind of feed uploaded and it got errors, obviously its just a possibility. The cache thingy is also possible.

    >They are most probably the same >image under two different names, >hence indexed twice but I could be >wrong. Also you may see that the >file sizes are different, one is 14k >and the other 15k.

    I think they are different images, but very similar. The texture and color is a bit different.

    >I have already talked about the >mistake here.

    I read this comment on your site “welcome to my site. thanks for the info. i noticed that after reading your comment. unfortunately MSN doesn’t give you choice whether or not to block pornographic images, which isn’t very good for a search engine”
    I concluded that you mean, there is a safesearch for word search but not photo? Is that what you meant?

  • http://www.gsharma.com Gaurav

    >good review. however, i would like >to discuss some points here:

    Thanks!

    >I am confused here, why would you >think so, Britney has millions of >pictures on the web and Google is a >living proof of it.

    Actually it would have been appropriate if I wrote unique. A lot of time same image is used in various wallpapers…etc, may be she has a lot more. It was just a guess

    >You cannot really blame a search >engine for that, the images are >shown from the search engine cache >and if the page has not been indexed >after it was changed, this is bound >to happen. it happens with Google >too.

    I am not blaming MSN for that, but suggesting that it is possible that, it may not be really indexed but some kind of feed uploaded and it got errors, obviously its just a possibility. The cache thingy is also possible.

    >They are most probably the same >image under two different names, >hence indexed twice but I could be >wrong. Also you may see that the >file sizes are different, one is 14k >and the other 15k.

    I think they are different images, but very similar. The texture and color is a bit different.

    >I have already talked about the >mistake here.

    I read this comment on your site “welcome to my site. thanks for the info. i noticed that after reading your comment. unfortunately MSN doesn’t give you choice whether or not to block pornographic images, which isn’t very good for a search engine”
    I concluded that you mean, there is a safesearch for word search but not photo? Is that what you meant?

  • http://www.youart.net Tim Jowers

    Thanks for the article. Search seems to be by keywords in the name and not site content, page content, or (the goal) image content. Is that right?

  • http://www.youart.net Tim Jowers

    Thanks for the article. Search seems to be by keywords in the name and not site content, page content, or (the goal) image content. Is that right?

  • Susan Lundy

    I’m a newbie…(my first comment) and I must say…thank you for doing this!!

  • Susan Lundy

    I’m a newbie…(my first comment) and I must say…thank you for doing this!!

  • http://www.thinkmantra.com Gaurav

    I am gonna update the article in few minutes.

    Tom Strong – I never heard of it before, I think it has a lot of options, I’ll definetly look at it sometime later.

    Tim Jowers – I am sorry I didn’t get you. Do you mean if I searched for the words “britney spears” (without qoutes) or if I searched for a specific website?

    Susan Lundy – You are most welcome.

  • http://www.gsharma.com Gaurav

    I am gonna update the article in few minutes.

    Tom Strong – I never heard of it before, I think it has a lot of options, I’ll definetly look at it sometime later.

    Tim Jowers – I am sorry I didn’t get you. Do you mean if I searched for the words “britney spears” (without qoutes) or if I searched for a specific website?

    Susan Lundy – You are most welcome.

  • http://www.deydas.com/ abhi

    concluded that you mean, there is a safesearch for word search but not photo? Is that what you meant?

    I meant Image Search. Try searching something pornographic in MSN, nothing will come up and there is no choice either.

  • http://www.deydas.com/ abhi

    concluded that you mean, there is a safesearch for word search but not photo? Is that what you meant?

    I meant Image Search. Try searching something pornographic in MSN, nothing will come up and there is no choice either.

  • http://www.thinkmantra.com Gaurav

    There is, I just searched something which MSN considered as “Sexually explicit” and didn’t return any result, not even the regular search, but when I changed my settings to no filtering, it displayed a lot of results and images.

    Edit: They introduced the languages too.

  • http://www.gsharma.com Gaurav

    There is, I just searched something which MSN considered as “Sexually explicit” and didn’t return any result, not even the regular search, but when I changed my settings to no filtering, it displayed a lot of results and images.

    Edit: They introduced the languages too.

  • http://mytechieself.blogspot.com mskadu

    I have referenced your post in my latest blog entry and have add some further comparisons by myself. Pl. do take a look.

  • http://mytechieself.blogspot.com/ Mayuresh

    I have referenced your post in my latest blog entry and have add some further comparisons by myself. Pl. do take a look.

  • http://www.govue.org/blog Govind

    Hmm, google got famous with its simple looking interface. Have to see, how MSN will be received. :)

  • http://www.govue.org/blog Govind

    Hmm, google got famous with its simple looking interface. Have to see, how MSN will be received. :)

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