Thursday, November 17, 2005

How Blogs Make Google a Legitimate Legal Research Tool

Dan Solove has an amusing post up on some of the odd Google searches that have directed people to Concurring Opinions.  I suspect that some of the oddities are the result of comment and trackback spam.  Blogs tend to rank very high in Google searches because blogs tend to link to each other.  Spammers try to take advantage of this fact by sending spam comments and trackbacks; I'm not clear on whether they are hoping that a person Googling the spam topic will click on the link in the comment or whether they are trying to increase the rank of their own site by linking to it from a blog.  In any event, I've deleted spam comments in the last couple of days about young Asian shemales and low mortgage interest rates.  I've also had some odd trackback spam in the last couple of days.

Maybe because I've been deleting these spam comments, I haven't been getting too many odd Google searches.  I do get lots of hits from searches on selling body parts because of this post in property in the body.  But lately it seems that more than anything I've been getting a lot of hits for searches on Berman v. Parker, because of this post on the Supreme Court's conference notes in that case.  This got me thinking about a frequent topic at faculty lunches -- law students' habit of starting any research project with a search from Google or Ask Jeeves.  This habit usually drives faculty nuts, and even now I don't think that this type of search is a good place to start legal research.  But if you in fact are researching Berman v. Parker, then my post on the conference notes would be a good thing to read.  Unless you are a regular reader of this blog, the only way to find it is through an internet search.  With the constant expansion of the legal blogosphere, researchers might miss some very useful commentary if they don't do an internet search.  And, on a related topic, they would also miss the most current legal scholarship on almost any subject if they don't include an SSRN search in their research.  It all makes me wonder what legal research will look like in a year or two.

Ben Barros

[As always, and in part because of comment spam, comments are held for approval, so there might be a delay in posting]

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