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Yahoo's Content Acquisition Program

But many are up in arms over Yahoo's plan to present paid Site Match URLs without any indication that the links have been purchased. What's worse, a possible long-term outcome may be the formation of a class system in which only wealthy and nonprofit Web sites can afford to appear within a Yahoo search results page.

It remains to be seen just how exclusionary the two-party system will turn out to be. Regardless, we need Yahoo's approach. Without it, Web searchers must continue to rely on Google's overly democratic system, under which timeliness and accuracy lose out to inclusiveness and consensus. A case in point: Google's recent trouble with Comment spamming, where spammers used the interconnectedness of blogs to achieve a high page rank on Google by autoposting spam using the comment fields of popular blog sites.

Yahoo should do as Google has done and identify paid and unpaid URLs within its search results. And perhaps the company should do more than perform a rudimentary spidering of sites for free (yes, Yahoo has made available a free submission form). But any search engine that strives to more accurately "understand content," not merely its "context," deserves a fighting chance, at least as a reality check against the unwashed masses.

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