A META Tag for the Level of Marketing

By Deane Barker on November 12, 2003

From the “It Will Never Happen Department,” I’d like every single Web page in the world to have a flag indicating if they’re selling something or not.

It’s frustrating when you’re trying to find information about something and all you get back in search results are companies deparately trying to sell you something related (often times distantly) to the subject you want to find information about. (Try searching Google for “dock high doors standard height.”)

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could check a box on Google that said, “Only return pages with no marketing content.” Webmasters could put a meta tag on their pages, like the PICS label initiative that seems to have died. That allowed you to specify information about the content of the page: what level of sex, violence, language, or whatever. We could just add another dimension for the level of marketing blather or number of ads.

I know, I know — people would violate the rules by not putting the flag on the pages, etc. (Maybe we could have another dimension for “level of honesty in rating this page’s content”…) It will never work. I’m just dreaming.



  1. What might work would be a search engine with a built-in expert system that figures out whether or not a site is selling something. Maybe a well-trained bayes filter that reads the content and figures things out as it’s spidering. You could also use this approach to provide other search criteria (is this a mailing list of forum entry? is this a news article?).

    I’ll be at the patent office. Somebody call Google.

  2. How about a reputation based system, whereby people can vote as to whether a site’s content is non-marketing? Or they can vote on whether a site’s META is accurate? No one would take the time.

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