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A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

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Discussion > Election Day Internet Experiment.

I'll post this here as well as unthreaded because I'm genuinely interested in how information gets chosen and distributed to us by search engines like Google. A general election day seems like a great opportunity to examine perceived bias/impartiality and many people have opinions about it.


Interesting experiment for today:

Go to the Google home/search page. Above the search box, as they do every day, the Google moniker will be transformed slightly into their 'theme for the day'. If you are in the UK you will probably see the second "g" in the Google icon transformed into a ballot box with the Union Jack on it. Click on it, and it will take you to a search results page.

Obviously, you won't have specified any search terms yourself, so these search results might tell you something about the Google algorithm. Here's a brief summary of the results I was presented with at about 1a.m.

Of the 18 results on my first page the first 3 (in a separate "In the News" category) lead to the BBC, The Mirror, and The Independent.

Next comes 2 results from parliamentarycandidates.org. I'm not familiar with the site but at first glance it appears information based, rather than likely to have an overt political slant.

Next is The Independent again, with a quoted snippet about UKIP being a "nasty party".

Then an entry for yourcandidates.org, which strikes me as similar to parliamentarycandidates.org.

Next is the Green Party website.

Then Wikipedia, "UK General Election 2015..."

Then images. I'll cover those last, at the bottom.

Then the Libdems website.

Then yournextmp.com. Seems similar to the previous two sites which were unknown to me.

Then The Mirror again.

Then 5 consecutive results from electoralcommission.org

Then 2 entries for ukpollingreport.co.uk. one of which is about UK candidates in the 2014 European elections.

Then an entry for europarl.org, again about UK candidates in the 2014 European elections.

Then, lastly, the Labour party website.

Below this 'main results' section are 3 more results under the heading "Searches related to UK candidates". All 3 results refer to UK candidates for "The Apprentice" TV show.

The photographs section includes 4 photographs from:
1) The Telegraph, showing a picture with each of the 'major' party leaders shown separately.
2) The Telegraph, showing candidates for "The Apprentice 2014" TV show.
3) The Guardian, showing Scottish Nationalist Party supporters.
4) The Guardian, showing candidates for "The Apprentice 2010" TV show.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
I'm not making any specific claim about bias in the Google algorithm, especially as it may be biased to my IP address at which I am not the only user. And the results will certainly change over time. But it still seems interesting, to me at least. It doesn't strike me as predominantly influenced by my own browsing preferences (I don't recall that I have ever visited The Mirror or The Green Party, much less watched The Apprentice).

I'd be interested to learn what other people experience.

May 7, 2015 at 2:22 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

After a bit of thinking I decided to check where some other parties official websites appeared, if at all, in the first 10 pages of results.(These were ~20 results per page).

UKIP was on page 3.
The Conservatives were on page 8.
Scottish Nationalists did not appear at all in the first 10 pages, but I did find a website for the Scottish Green Party. (Note: My IP address is in England).

Interesting. Maybe UKIP and The Conservatives have rubbish websites and nobody visits them.
Maybe some other reason. I dunno.

May 7, 2015 at 2:55 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party website was on page 7.

May 7, 2015 at 3:08 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

very few UK public will be getting election info DIRECTLY via Google.
However they do indirectly as media professionals do use Google.
In an ideal world the media professionals would be objective enough to be not affected by whatever bias the google algorithm has.

May 7, 2015 at 4:20 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Election 2015: Election campaign enters final hours
UK election candidates: Who is standing in the general election?
Election 2015: Voters head to the polls as UK candidates await their fate - live
More news for uk election candidates
General election 2015: 'Nasty party' Ukip faces fresh ...
Election 2015: Voters head to the polls as UK candidates ...
Parliamentary Candidates UK – a new resource for ...
United Kingdom general election, 2015 - Wikipedia, the free ...
Jump to Candidates - Candidates[edit]. Main article: Candidates standing in the United Kingdom general election, 2015. The deadline for parties and ...
UK candidates: Google Doodle marks 2015 general election ...
YourNextMP - 2015 UK general election candidates
Get to know the General Election 2015 candidates in your constituency. Enter your
General Election Candidates 2015 | Green Party Members ...
UK Parliamentary general election in Great Britain

Those are the results I get with cookies turned off (ie Google doesn't know exactly where I am but it knows I'm in the North West) and with a different browser with them turned on.

May 7, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Similar to you, michael hart.
The only point of interest is that the Guardian didn't show up at all on the first page. As I look at the Guardian website very often (probably more than the Telegraph) it seemed strange that it doesn't come up.

Perhaps Google's algorithm isn't as tailored as we all assume?

May 7, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

View from here, so to speak ... (after your polls have closed) via Google.ca. My search term "uk election 2015"

First glance was interesting ... only showed 3 parties & leaders (Labour, Conservative & Lib Dems). Had to scroll down and click to show other parties (next in line was UKIP) ... after refresh, 4 parties & leaders displayed: above 3 +Democratic Unionist Party.

But when I scrolled & clicked to show more, UKIP again 4th in view!

Just heard on CBC radio news that Conservatives appear to be winning (but not quite majority) But CBC website (with supposedly "live" updates is not showing this latest).

Oh, well ... that's CBC ... consistency has rarely if ever been a strong point!

Meanwhile, my email shows the following teaser from the NYT (no I do not subscribe; but a few weeks ago, I decided - after many weeks of begging on their part - to take advantage of their "freebie" 6 weeks:


British Exit Polls Point to Strong Showing for Conservatives

As polls closed across Britain, the BBC announced the results of the nationwide exit polls in its live broadcast. The polls indicate a good night for the Conservatives, projected to carry 316 seats, tantalizingly close to the 326 seats needed for an outright majority, and a very poor one for Labour, with just 239.

The New York Times is providing live updates from the election, as well as social media reaction, as the votes are tallied.

CBC also reporting that in Scotland the prediction is that SNP will win 57 of 58 seats! Is that the view from there?!

Actually, I'm just about all electioned-out ... There was a Provincial election in PEI (Anne of Green Gables territory) on Monday (with another "historic" green seat won). And on Tuesday a rather surprising (I haven't quite decided yet if it is alarming or not!) win for the (very, pro-union) NDP in Canada's Progressive Conservative (PC) heartland of Alberta (following 44 years of PC reign).

Alberta PC's actually came in 3rd - in some measure probably due to overconfidence of leader (a former Fed - who initially won party election as Leader following disgrace of duly elected predecessor - won his seat ... But is resigning anyway ... talk about a poor loser, eh?!)

May 8, 2015 at 12:00 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

the exit poll is looking accurate.

Ed Davey's out WOOOHOOO!

May 8, 2015 at 3:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Bab Bye Davey Bab Bye .... ..wonder why his constituents don't like him
...the party can't put the Tw*t in the House of lords can they ?

"UKIP's Douglas Carswell holds Clacton
. in Thanet South say the Conservatives are “pretty confident” they will beat Farage"
The fat lady has not yet sung BUT
projection is 239 Labour, 316 Conservative ..so could it be a Tw*t Cameron government working with the Northern Ireland polies ?
Why do BBC headlines today look so different to it's predictions yeasterday ?
..they didn't predict Labour and Libs losing big time except in Scotland

May 8, 2015 at 4:49 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Tiny,

Yes I saw Dim as s light bulb Davy was out, pretty much with every other Lib Dem as well!

I shall not shed a tear for him!

Hahahahahahahahaha!!! F@£ker!!!!!

Mailman

May 8, 2015 at 4:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Say goodbye, Ed!

May 8, 2015 at 7:42 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Nice trick BBC instead of posting their own opinions, they are selecting Tweets to post ..still shows their bias
"Reasons to be cheerful
Editor of PoliticsHome.com tweets
Green MP Caroline Lucas wins by big margin. At least there’s one result to cheer @rustyrockets"
"James Forsyth
Comfortable hold for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion. I wonder how they would have done with her leading them nationally"
"Lucas keeps seat
Green MP Caroline Lucas holds on to her Brighton Pavilion seat with 22,871 - a majority of nearly 8,000. Labour was in second place."

yet they hardly ever celebrate UKIP who are getting about 4 times the vote of the Greens (but not concentrated enough to win more seats)
"UKIP is 'third largest party' BBC journalist tweets:Chris Mason
UKIP point out: "UKIP is now the third largest party in the UK in terms of nationwide vote - with over 2.5m votes so far" #ge2015"

"Geography" to blame for UKIP result @bbc5live tweets
"#UKIP are being punished for having a geographically spread result", says Prof Andrew Russell @PoliBlogManc #GE2015"

UKIP, which claims its candidates "have scored a phenomenal number of second places".

May 8, 2015 at 8:07 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Personally i would rather that we had proper PR democracy and so more seats for the Green that way the Loony Greens would have less of excuse to get into law breaking and terrorism

May 8, 2015 at 8:13 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Did any one else notice that the Google title with the little ballot box on the search page yesterday showed all the main party colours except purple and showed red twice. Now there's a surprise.

May 8, 2015 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

First-past-the-post plus 66 percent participation. SNP with 1.5 million votes get 56 seats. UKIP and Greens with 5 million votes get only 2 seats. You Brits have a truly lousy electoral system. And what do you do? You vote AGAINST changing this lousy system.

May 8, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

@sHx UKIP actually got 1 seat
...It's shoking that media/BBC got the predictions wrong by magnitudes by saying for the last month it was almost equal between Con and Lab
when actual vote percentages CON 36.9, LAB 30.4, UKIP 12.6, LD 7.9, SNP 4.7, GRN 3.8 Turnout 66.1% Electorate: 46,425,386

Even more incredible disproportion In Northern Ireland
the DUP with less than 200,000 votes, thats 0.4%, How many seats do you think they got ?
!!! 8 seats !! ......the same proportions for UKIP would mean 152 seats !

There is a massive Democracy Corruption problem with first past the post eg like last time a tiny minority party like LibDEms who got 7% of the vote got a big say in the parliament ..and were able to leverage certain key policies like the 'pseudo Green' Energy policy
which in a open debate, 75% of the public would have voted against

Of course minor parties like the Greens and UKIP should only have policy influence in proportion to their number of TRUE voters
ie 3.8++ 12.6++ ..I put ++ cos their real proportions might much higher than that say 5%, and 25% as many of TRUE supporters would have voted for other parties, as they would had to have voted tactically if their own parties local candidate didn't seem to stand a chance in winning
- To please some Green voters there should be some green policies, but to please anti-green parties like UKIP there should be a much higher proportion of non-green- dogma policies

May 9, 2015 at 5:20 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

There are sites such as siteworthtraffic.com that generate web traffic estimates for websites. In my limited experience they are quite accurate. Currently we have, in descending order of estimated daily unique visitors:

ukip.org 5369
conservatives.com 4751
libdems.org.uk 4311
snp.org 2969
labour.org.uk 1751

May 9, 2015 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJust Saying

Actually I think the above estimates are wrong. alexa.com has labour.org.uk higher than ukip.org.

May 9, 2015 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJust Saying

JS there are various technical reasons why sitetraffic has LITTLE to do with votes gained

May 10, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen