Search Engine Bias
Matthew Martin 12/04/2012 08:35:00 PM
This is a pretty consistent theme I've noticed--the posts I think are interesting don't get as many hits as the completely inane ones. And I have a theory why: search engine bias.
See, the problem with modern search engines is that they presume that the user has some minimal level of knowledge about the subject they are searching. However, almost by definition, the most interesting blog posts are ones on topics people don't already know about. The fact is that by far most of my blog hits come from people searching on google, which means that inane, commonly talked about topics like Bain Capital will give me far more hits than interesting topics like, say, applied mechanism design techniques for formulating optimal tax policy. The more I say "Bain Capital" in a post, the more hits I get. Bain Capital.
I wonder if this produces an inherent bias in the modern internet world. Just as I have an incentive now to talk about Bain Capital more often to attract hits, other internet authors are being incentivized to write about things that the public already knows about, adding little to the discourse, rather than illuminate far more interesting and important topics that people don't know anything about.