Dear SMH – just fix your search engine why don’t you

Working for a customer experience consultancy, as I do, I am always on the look out for stories about customer activism or advocacy — so I was very interested in this story on the SMH about the influence of a customer in the removal of soft porn content from the Telstra BigPond service.  Except it wasn’t quite the story I had read in the Saturday paper, which I have quaintly photographed and included for you below.

Print version of the article that was published 28 April 2012

I wanted to archive the article in my bookmark library on Delicious, so I

  • searched the article title on SMH with no luck
  • searched the article title on Google with no luck
  • searched the author on SMH with some luck

Now the SMH search is unreliable verging on useless at the best of times but it is usually OK for articles a few days old. Also, I didn’t expect any problems cause I had a pretty accurate search query being the title itself.

It was on the 3rd search of the author name that I recognized a pretty similar article title with pretty similar content.  Surely this is something that other news junkies do? (Print title: “BigPond tips cold water on soft porn”; Online title: “Telstra pulls out of porn market after customer backlash”.)

So this blog post is a plea I guess, from a loyal reader of all formats, who still buys the paper: get your search engine to take all versions of a story into account, when a story appears differently online than it does in print. Think about the fact that readers still experience these different formats as the one entity. And just fix your search engine – unless you are trying to avoid your loyal readers finding the news on your site.

It’s just confusing otherwise, and really it just shouldn’t be such hard work.

Online version of the article that was published 27 April 2012



I agree with that. The change of the titles would be to encourage click on the website but if you’re cross referencing it will make things difficult. A little bit of extra metadata to search against would get it working.

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