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June 15, 2006

MSN Has a Sense of Humor

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MSN received a lot of praise and raised eyebrows from the blogosphere this morning when news broke they were looking for people to “hand craft” search results. In fact, Phil Lenssen reacted with a gleeful “Oh my“, Barry Schwartz was “amazed” and Danny Sullivan added an emphatic “Hallelujah“.

A mysterious job posting was found on the MSN Search jobs page for a Hand Crafted results position. The description read in part:

“You will receive a user query, use all the available search engines to quickly scour the web for results, pick the top 10 results for this query, and send it on to the user. Successful handcrafters can typically find top 10 results for a real-time user’s query in less than 3.8 seconds… If you are an expert at using at least 3 different search engines, well versed with American English/colloquial usage, and can type at > 149 words/minute as measured by the Simia-Lico method – come join us and delight users real-time!”

Unfortunately, MSN was kidding. See, they do have a sense of humor. You’d have to in order to work for MSN. Joke! (Sort of.)

I’m not sure what the biggest tip-off was: that applicants had to type at least 149 (!!) words per minute, they had to be familiar with “the Simia-Lico method” (which doesn’t actually exist) or that “hand-crafters” would have 3.8 seconds to scour multiple search engines and deliver results (both because it’s impossible and users would never wait that long). Any way you read it, it made no sense.

Despite it seeming completely unfeasible, the posting was very clearly linked off the real MSN page which made it seem legitimate. Or at least legitimate enough that Danny Sullivan wrote a long commentary about MSN and the impact of hand crafted results.

The best was Phil Lenssen who said he could “almost see” the meeting at Microsoft that must have taken place to create such a position. It involves a man admitting MSN “sucks” and the only way to improve it was to steal results from real search engines, like Google and Yahoo. Comedy, and yet, so true.
Well played, MSN. Well played.

If MSN is accepting comments: Personally, I wouldn’t mind some hand-crafted search results, as long as they were relevant and unbiased. Who cares if you’d have to wait an entire 3.8 seconds? I could deal with that. Otherwise, stop toying with us.

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