Ask Jeeves has expanded its Smart Search feature, adding "direct answers" with biographical information about famous people.
Direct answers for famous people appear in a box at the top of a search result page, with a picture, short biography and additional links for more information. These links vary depending on what the person is famous for. For example, results for David Bowie include links for pictures, news, products, filmography and discography.
Pictures, news and product links are provided by Ask Jeeves in partners Picsearch, Moreover and Pricegrabber. Discographies come from AllMusic.com, and filmographies are provided by the Internet Movie Database. For some famous people, a link to an official web site will be offered.
While famous people search is useful for people of unquestionable fame, the service is inconsistent, providing information for some celebrities but not for others of seemingly similar stature. For example, you'll get results for Colin Powell but not Condoleza Rice. Similarly, you will see a direct answer for Bugs Bunny but not for Daffy Duck.
Some other examples:
A Taxonomy of Search Engine Spam
Search engine spam, though not as overtly visible as its sibling email spam, is nonetheless a huge problem. A new paper, authored by Stanford University professors Zoltan Gyongyi and Hector Garcia-Molina, does a good job of describing the various techniques and methods used by spammers to subvert web search results.
From the introduction to the paper:
"To provide quality services, it is critical for search engines to address web spam. Search engines currently fight spam with a variety of often manual techniques, but as far as we know, they still lack a fully effective set of tools for combating it. We believe that the first step in combating spam is understanding it, that is, analyzing the techniques the spammers use to mislead search engines."
Web Spam Taxonomy (PDF)
This paper presents a comprehensive taxonomy of current spamming techniques, which the authors believe can help in developing appropriate countermeasures.
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.