Compete Still a Bit Wet Behind the Ears

I actually like Compete I think it’s quite a bit more accurate than Alexa or other competing services, however when I see comments like this on their blog it makes me question some of their conclusions:

Every search query we see in our data is a query performed by an actual person.

via compete blog

Ok Compete gathers their data in a few different ways, first they have a toolbar which lets them gather data, easy enough to fake the same way Alexa is faked. However they also use other methods like clickstream data from ISP’s (like hitwise), and then weight the data according to their algorithm.

Not to rain on their parade but people sometimes send automated queries to search engines for any number of purposes, some benign like ranking reports, others more nefarious like trying to influence things such as Google Trends. Of course a human being does “push the button” so if you wanted to get technical about it yes they are all human generated, but I think the essence of your statement is each query is done by a person singularly, not en masse. It gets even more difficult when sophisticated people start generating massive amounts of “pseudo human” traffic, and throttle it with variable time intervals so it appears more natural. Compete you really think you’ve got that one beat do you … c’mon now … (wink wink nudge nudge).

No doubt you are better than many of the others, but lets be real adversarial information retrieval can get very tricky at times and I think declaring “Every search query we see in our data is a query performed by an actual person” would rank right up there with building an unsinkable ship … and removing spam from the internet

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