back to article Google's news algorithm serves up penis pills

Our Monday here at The Reg's London offices has been cheered to no end by Google News, which has been spitting out odd pharmaceutical-related "journalism" throughout the day. Over the past few days*, we've received several emails from readers about the issue, and we managed to snap a explicit screenshots ourselves as the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been seeing this for at least the last week or two.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      I've been needing this for a few years.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      You've got to hand it to them, they’ve....

      No wait, that's gone wrong.

      You've got to give them some credit, an automated news service is a master stroke that...

      Hang on, that's gone wrong too.

      They should get it right one day, and then they'll blow away the...

      Damn.

      It's a pretty clever idea, having an algorithm to suck in the stories that...

      Crap. I give up.

      It's a pretty clever idea to have an algorithm to soak up the world's entire stream of news stories, and distil it down to a golden stream which they target us with.

      Got there in the end...

      1. AndyS

        > a golden stream which they target us with

        tut tut. Should be "...a golden stream with which they target us."

        Otherwise, top marks.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curious minds want to know...

    Hmm...

    if memory serves me right, Google has been reducing optimization based on content for a while now and most of optimization is based on personalization.

    Based on that, curious minds want to know: Did someone forget to use private mode and/or kill the Google tracking cookies before his evening round of entertainment.

    Me coat (unfortunately unavailable for anonymous comments)...

    1. cordwainer 1

      Re: Curious minds want to know...

      These appear for me in the Standard Edition (not personalized), and regardless of whether I'm logged into my account or not. The number of articles is lower when not logged in, or when switching to a different computer/browser.

      All irrelevant, though. Personalized or not, tracking or no, the equivalent of spam shouldn't be able to show up in the Health Section any more than comparable emails should show up in my Inbox. Comparable emails are routed to Spam where they belong - why are these articles not dealt with in similar fashion? And why the Health section only? Putting this on squarely on Google - don't blame the victim, LOL.

    2. Oh Homer
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Curious minds want to know...

      Not sure what a "but(sic) management Unit(sic)" is (from the story photo), but the top hit returned by Google News on that search phrase is: "Uber advisor outlines what the company should do next". I can certainly think of a few relevant answers, unlike Google, apparently.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So have you seen the liquid Viagra?

    Comes in a bottle a bit like a Tippex bottle.

    Picked up a Tippex bottle by mistake the other day and took some of that. Woke up next morning with an enormous correction

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So have you seen the liquid Viagra?

      Either way you can rub one out.

    2. Haku
      Coat

      Re: So have you seen the liquid Viagra?

      Is that anything like the viagra eye drops?

      (it makes you look hard)

  4. jake Silver badge

    Ad company drops human oversite to ship more ads.

    Problem is, who sees ads anymore, so will anybody notice?

    Personally, I don't see the gootards at all ... there is no content there anyway, it's all just third party garbage. Ignoring their IP space completely moves the signal/noise ratio quite nicely in my favo(u)r.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Problem is, who sees ads anymore,

      Problem is, who uses Google without an anonymizer anymore,

      There fixed it for you.

      Using Google directly just feeds the dragon.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Problem is, who sees ads anymore,

        No. You didn't fix it. I had it right to begin with. But thanks for playing, Steve!

        Tell him what he's won, Bob!

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Problem is, who sees ads anymore,

        And even though a large proportion of the populace now use ad-blockers, it's not the majority. Few if any outside of the techy world would be using anything more sophisticated.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Ad company drops human oversite to ship more ads.

      Problem is, who sees ads anymore, so will anybody notice?

      Probably not anyone here. However, there's bunches of the great un-tech that don't know or care about adblockers. And most do use Google (just like they use FB) and don't seem to care. Or maybe they want to see the ads especially the "trendy ads"?

      Hell, I gave up watching the Superbowl here in the States decades ago yet, every Monday afterwards, it wasn't the game everyone talked about but the ads. I'm not where the manipulated minds of people are anymore.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Ad company drops human oversite to ship more ads.

        most do use Google (just like they use FB)

        Absolutely. At home, all the browsers on all devices are set to use search engines other than Google. Google is deleted from the list of search engines (for example in Firefox) and yet my children, two primary-age, two secondary, who are well aware of our attitudes towards these things and know why we won't let them have Facebook or Twitter accounts, and know how DuckDuckGo works, still dial-up Google for searches sort of "by default" (it's the default at school). AARGHH!!!

        M.

  5. handleoclast Silver badge
    Coat

    I tried penis pills once

    Didn't do a damned thing for me.

    Not only that, they really hurt when you insert them and they take forever to dissolve.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The penis mightier than the sword.

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Is that you, Willie?

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Flakk Silver badge

    A la Admiral Kirk taunting Khan: "Google... I'm laughing at the superior machine learning."

  9. Mycho Silver badge

    I saw the image and briefly thought the Reg had been hacked.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Coat

      Same here. What a bunch of dicks, I thought

      Sorry, couldn't resist. The shabby long brown coat, please

  10. Philip Stott

    Help, I think may need to start signing The Register (no, that other register)

    I read this article, when the dogman part of my brain (convinced it had read "we watched open mouthed as the news kept coming in ... ") thought it could do better than that, with a comment along the lines of "you guys are bad, but I reckon your innuendo department has a gaping hole that needs stuffing with my cheesy prose". Please tell me that the article was once a filthy, innuendo ridden smut fest and that I don't need to start reading non-register related trade news.

  11. sitta_europea

    Does it really say "Click to enlarge" under that illustration?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What do you expect, it's the Bone Gazette.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Algorithms?

    We all know that if you fed user generated data into an algorithm, someone will eventually game it. It's got to be a continuous battle to tweak it.

    It does make me wonder though of it only shows when you don't have a "profile" from Google and the Google peeps all drink the kool-Aid so didn't see it. That would be a clever bot of algo-gaming.

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