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Google’s Chrome features option to block content 

In a direct attempt to facilitate the blockage of certain content, Google offers a feature on the Chrome browser that allows users to ban content they deem ‘undesirable’.

February 17, 2011

Google has been facing swelling criticism from tech types over the quality of its search results because they often include links to sites like eHow, which critics disparagingly refer to as content farms.

Now Google is giving its users a chance to block those sites from search results — and to help it figure out which sites are least useful to them. With that information it can tweak its algorithm so the sites rank lower in search results.

Users of Google’s Chrome browser can install an extension that lets them choose to block certain sites. Google will study which sites people block to figure out which ones bother users, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s spam-fighting team, wrote in a company blog post.

When critics refer to content farms, they generally mean sites like eHow and Associated Content from Yahoo that publish articles based on what people search for on Google. The articles, they say, provide questionably useful information (so questionable that they inspired a satirical blog, which Google winked at in its blog post.)

In a recent interview, before Monday’s announcement, Mr. Cutts said Google tries to determine whether a user would be unhappy if she landed on a certain page after doing a search, and is working on algorithms to push content farms lower in results. The new extension directly asks users to tell Google which sites they find to be not worth their time.

Blekko, a start-up search engine, has taken similar steps. It returns results only from a selection of sites that Blekko and its users determine to be of high quality, and it recently blacklisted sites, including eHow and Answerbag, from its results.

Asked in the interview whether Google would block sites altogether, Mr. Cutts said, “We haven’t gone to that position yet and that’s because our first instinct is to write algorithms that deal with content farms.”

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About the author: Luis Miranda

Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at The Real Agenda. His career spans over 19 years and almost every form of news media. He attended Montclair State University's School of Broadcasting and also obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Luis speaks English, Spanish Portuguese and Italian.

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