GG talks about Google Priorities.
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HarryM, I really thought your list (and the ordering of that list was really interesting). It's true that a search engine has to make money or it won't be a viable service after long. I was thinking about this thread last night when I was going to sleep, and I think the thing that set Google apart was that we tried our utmost to align #1 and #2 from your list, so that improving things for users would also be good for Google as a business. Things like text ads instead of banners, marking the ads clearly, and trying to make the ads relevant by taking clickthrough into account are the sorts of things that make users happier and return to search again, so it helps set up a virtuous cycle. I think it's interesting that you listed "keeping webmasters content" near the bottom of the top 10. It's certainly true that one could make that principle the top one. The difficulty you'd have is that most webmasters are content when they're in the top spot, and not everybody can be there. That leads to systems like Overture, where you bid to see who is the most willing to be in the top slot.
Anyway, that's a really interesting way to express possible different priorities, and I think the ordering of priorities like that could generate a lot of philosophies of many different search engines. Do you mind if I play around with those a little bit? I might email a few other Googlers about this thread and talk a little bit about the orderings.
Sorry for the long post. Liane, thanks for your post. I remember talking to you a few months ago, so it was good to hear your thoughts about that period now.