The Spectre of Math

August 24, 2009

bing vs. google

Filed under: Technology — jlebl @ 4:53 am

So I’ve been told by several people that bing is soooo much better than google. So I figured out I’d try it myself. I out of the hat picked out 4 queries I’d try: “jiri lebl” (yeah I’m that narcissistic) “levi flat hypersurfaces”, “coffee near uiuc”, and finally “where do I buy an australian hat”.

“jiri lebl”: google wins, no contest. If you were feeling lucky then you got one of my webpages (uiuc). The first page contains also my other webpage (, and old webpage I had at ucsd. Overall only 3 crap results on the first page (random posts to mailing lists and such). bing on the other hand has as first 3 pages really crappy results. The first results is some site which lists some pdfs I posted on my webpage some students uploaded somewhere. They are out of date and has no relevant information anymore. The other two results are rather random mailing lists posts. Only then does it hit linked-in and then my webpage. Only one of my webpages made it to the top ten.

“levi flat hypersurfaces”: Again, google wins. Google lists essentially 10 different papers on levi-flat hypersurfaces. It is trying to flatter my by making the top two results be my papers. Bing also tried to flatter me by doing the same thing. However the top ten does contain a bunch of links that only mention levi-flats. It does list my homepage and my thesis in a further attempt to bribe me. It could be that bing does not search subscription only journals and hence is not as useful when in doing scientific research.

“coffee near uiuc”: Again, google delivers more relevant information. Obviously I am trying to buy some coffee. While the results of both engines kind of sucked, google sucked slightly less. bing only provided one result that would seem to help me in my quest, while google provided several (including the same “student life” guide that bing provided). bing seemed to provide bunch of pages at uiuc that mentioned coffee. So google sort of wins by default, but not being as bad as bing.

“where do I buy an australian hat”: Google destroys bing. All top 10 google results are relevant, plus all the results. All point to australian hats and where to buy them. It didn’t find my favorite brand on first glance, but one of the resellers it found might carry them. Bing on the other hand completely screwed up. First page was a hat company that carried no australian hats. Only 2 pages went to something that had anything to do with “australian hats” rest were about hats where australia was mentioned for example as a shipping destination.

I figured maybe I searched wrong. Perhaps I wanted a “cafe near uiuc”. So I tried that too. Now I would say that both provided some links which I could use to find a cafe, but again both sucked quite badly. Bing again contained pages that mentioned all the terms, but had nothing to do with my query really. Both provided some workable results (for some reason google wanted to find hotels for me for both coffee and cafe … I guess you can get coffee at a hotel, but …)

Conclusion: Bing is just another search engine, and it sucks compared to google. Bing seems to provide less relevant results and prioritizes in a strange fashion it seems. Most definitely the “decision engine” crap is just marketing nonsense. It is a search engine, it looks for pages that contain the terms and then presents them in some order. That order seems quite a bit better for google than it is for bing. If anything is more than a simple search engine, it is google. It interpreted my queries better (for example it figured out I want to “buy” an “australian hat”) or that I am looking for a cafe near the university (though then it sent me to hilton, which is not my idea of a cafe, though you can get coffee at hilton).



  1. Obviously you are a Google loyalist with nothing good to say about MS Bing when credit is due. Bing does not blow Google out of the water. However, After using Bing over the past few weeks and comparing a number of search results between the two competitors, I must honestly say that Microsoft has truly improved their search engine enough to make a real difference this time around. Before the launch of Bing, I absolutely had no regard for any of the other search engines and used Google 100%. I now find myself splitting my search queries between Google and Bing. Its impressive what Microsfot is doing with Bing.

    Comment by — August 24, 2009 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

    • So I am a “google loyalist” for trying to compare the results it gives me? I didn’t say without evidence “it sucks”. I gave evidence. What I was mostly interested in was “is it any better?” I wasn’t trying to defend google, nor to put down bing. I don’t care. All I wanted to do was to try it. If it works for you, great. It didn’t work that great for me. Also I wanted to try how intelligent it was, and it was not very intelligent. Perhaps the advertisements built up some expectations that didn’t materialize. The search results were OK, but it is just a search engine not a “decision engine” as they try to market it. It has all problems search engines have. And it doesn’t provide as relevant results as google, at least for the queries I tried. Obviously it also has smaller search space (no full text scientific papers (a necessity for me), no full text book search, no map search, no shopping search).

      So I am a loyalist for presenting evidence (though perhaps anecdotal)? You produced no evidence beyond “I now find myself splitting my search queries.” I presented search terms which you can try and see the results yourself. I gave credit where credit is due. I said it is a search engine. A reasonable one. Some of the queries had many relevant hits. But there were more irrelevant hits, and that included the top result. Google was more relevant measured objectively for those queries. There were some queries on which they were somewhat equal (“cafe near uiuc”). But on no query I tried did bing objectively beat google in relevance of results.

      So, it may be impressive. Just building a search engine that returns reasonably relevant results is impressive. It may be wonderful. But so far it doesn’t beat google. If it does get better than google, then I’ll use it. What search queries did you try, and what exact search queries had better results in bing?

      Comment by jlebl — August 24, 2009 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

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