"It is misleading to have advertisements that say people prefer Bing 2:1 and also say join the millions of people who've taken the Bing-It-On challenge," Ayres wrote. "If, as in our study, the millions of people haven't preferred Bing at a nearly a 2:1 rate."
Ayres goes even further arguing that "Google has a colorable deceptive advertising claim against Microsoft" that could be worth a lot of money.
Binging it on redux
Well, Microsoft is not a company willing to take allegations of legal liability lying down—especially when it comes to Google. The company returned fire shortly after Ayres post was published. Do the results of the millions of people who have taken the Bing challenge line up with Microsoft's research?
Here's the thing: Microsoft has no idea. The company didn't track user results on the Bing It On site, because that would have been unethical, Bing Behavioral Psychologist Matt Wallaert wrote on the Bing Search blog.
What? An online company didn't track user data over ethics? What madness is this? "People who come to BingItOn.com are not agreeing to participate in research; they're coming for a fun challenge," Wallaert wrote. "It isn't conducted in a controlled environment... So we simply don't track their results, because the tracking itself would be incredibly unethical."
Wallaert then goes on to take a few more shots at Ayres' findings and even suggests that Ayres results could—could—prove that Bing is better than Google at providing results for current news topics.
Binging it all together
While warring blogs are always good for a laugh, the reality is that whether you prefer Bing or Google really comes down to personal preference—blind taste test or no. Nobody searches in a vacuum of little blue links anymore, there all kinds of reasons to prefer one search engine over the other including interface elements, mobile features, social networking integration, privacy concerns, and location-specific results. (Bing, for example, just got a Modern makeover and smarter search results.)
Nevertheless, if you're interesting in becoming a searchologist yourself to find out if there's some ultimate truth in search then check ou tAyres' study. Don't forget to also read up on Microsoft's methodology for its Bing tests.
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