Matthew Yglesias at Slate is speculating that Microsoft may kill the bing search engine. His logic is compelling. As the person responsible for running the operations of this site, all I can say is to kill it. Please Microsoft – let the pain of your ratshit spiders die away… It isn’t like anyone uses bing anyway.
Steve Ballmer’s run as Microsoft CEO hasn’t been great for Microsoft’s shareholders, but it’s been a boon to the world since his determination to pour money into an Online Services division that competes with Google on several fronts has given Mountain View a dose of competition. But Ballmer’s been more-or-less fired, and Microsoft’s board is supposed to appoint a new CEO next year.
Will Ballmer’s successor share his determination to go head to head with the king of search? If you were given the job, would you? I wouldn’t. Online Services has been a huge financial disaster for Microsoft. But if it goes away, then suddenly Google becomes a real monopolist.
|Google Image Search||5,044|
Just to point out exactly how little bing is used by the users of this site, this year to date wordpress referral stats for search engines on the right shows the interesting pattern. These are where a query was received at a search engine resulting in a jump to one of our pages or images.
Now admittedly we are not a site that bothers to chase overseas traffic via search engine queries. We’re a specialist political blog site concentrating largely in New Zealand. We’re interested in our advertising paying for our server costs and not trying to make a living off the site. With a country of just over four million people, the majority of whom only have a passing interest in politics, trying to make a living off a free public site would require us to put up a awful lot of non-political pap for people from offshore to find on their search browsers.
That is not us. We’re currently getting about 300 thousand unique users per year according to google analytics. The origin of their visits has 87% are from New Zealand, 3.5% from aussie, 1.9% from the US, 1.9% from the UK, and then it tails off into rats and mice.
|Browser||Visits||New visits||Bounce||Pages/visit||Avg Visit
But back to bing. Let us not forget that people actively change away from bing. Bing is the default search engine on Internet Explorer. Over this year IE was still the fourth largest browser accessing this site (I cut off when we hit rats and mice again). Of course it might be different in a more corporate environment than in a left political blog site. But I really don’t think so. We get a lot of traffic during work hours and it will be done from company machines.
Normally, I’d just ignore Bing in the same way that I do with yandex from yahoo, the chinese baidu spider, and most of the other multitudinous search engine spiders that crawl the site every day. They tend to obey the rules that we post for them to follow, and that Wordfence and some lower level anti-denial of service routines enforce. Mostly those restrictions are there to catch and kill access to spambots.
There are exactly two services that because of good behaviour that I allow unfettered read rights to the site. They are google search engines and FeedBurner (now owned by google) for the RSS feeds. That is because the site tells them what is changed and new as it is updated and added, and when the best time to scan the site is and they follow it. Neither cause any peak loading on the site and mostly quietly run in the background of the site’s traffic to the target humans.
We provide exactly the same information to bing. But it acts like spambot, trying to suck down the entire 13,453 posts and 668,619 comments as fast as it can whenever it feels like – usually several times per month. It also seems to have a habit of trying to do it from several locations at the same time – some of which come from redmond and aren’t in their server lists. Over this past year when it hasn’t been constrained, it hasn’t been abnormal for Bing to have days where it is more than a third of our daily load. These days I throttle it to a few handfuls of pages per minute.
It is quite costly for our site to support Bing because it is the only search spider that treats this site as a free resource – which it isn’t. It’s server side costs are so high for us to provide compared to the number of people using it that it is simply net vermin like the spambots. The sooner it dies, the happier I’ll be.
Does anyone here actually use the damn thing?