Miles Kehoe at New Idea Engineering’s Enterprise Search Blog tells an entertaining anecdote.
The folks from Booz & Company, a spinoff from Booz Allen Hamilton, did a presentation on their experience comparing two well respected mainstream search products. They report that, at one point, one of the presenters was looking for a woman she knew named Sarah – but she was having trouble remembering Sarah’s last name. The presenter told of searching one of the engines under evaluation and finding that most of the top 60 people returned from the search were… men. None were named ‘Sue’; and apparently none were named Sarah either. The other engine returned records for a number of women named Sarah; and, as it turns out, for a few men as well.
After some frustration, they finally got to the root of the problem. It turns out that all of the Booz & Company employees have their resumes indexed as part of their profiles. Would you like to guess the name of the person who authored the original resume template? Yep – Sarah.
This is a great example of “garbage in, garbage out!” Meta data is only as good as the humans who curate it (or the machines who try to guess at it.) Thanks for the Friday chuckle, Miles!