(Note: A reply from Microsoft is posted below.)
A fair bit of buzz this morning over the fact that a search for “more evil than Satan” on Microsoft’s new search engine returns Google as the top result. A subtle jab by the Redmond search engine crew at Google? When Danny Sullivan wrote about a similar incident back in 1999, when Microsoft was the top result on Google for “more evil than satan himself,” he said:

Of course, the search really doesn’t mean anything — the Microsoft home page also comes up tops for plain old “more evil,” so given the way Google works, this just tells us that there’s a significant number of people on the web who may use the word “evil” near links to Microsoft on their pages.

Given the fact that Google’s motto is “Do No Evil,” doesn’t it stand to reason that there would be lots of web pages with the word “evil” near a link for Google? (Note: It is odd that neither Yahoo nor Google produce the same result as MSFT.)

UPDATE: Microsoft responded to an email request from us with the following, from Adam Sohn, director of global sales and marketing for MSN:

These results come from our algorithms not from humans. One factor our Beta uses in ranking pages is the text of links that point to a page. If many links to a site contain a certain word or phrase, that site will rank highly in a query for that word or phrase. When you see an unusual result for a provocative phrase, this is frequently the cause. We are constantly refining our ranking algorithms to produce the best, most accurate results, expect these refinements to change.

UPDATE2: More info from MSFT about this is over at their search blog.

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