A previous posting has outgrown its comments, so I’m continuing it here.
Webloggers aren’t influencing decisions — they’re influencing the information that influences the decision, and that’s dangerous.
When webloggers act as a cohesive group to deliberately influence the position of a link within Google’s search results, this is influencing the information, not the decision. It is not equivalent to lobbying, which is an attempt to influence a decision. And it is not reflective of the interest of the populace — its a deliberate and coordinated action.
To repeat, this is a deliberate attempt to influence the flow of the information. And this is dangerous.
Will the results that Google returns influence people? Not for larger issues that are well publicized. However, in issues of business and with less well publicized issues, this can make a difference. How much so, we don’t know — we would need Google’s usage patterns and statistics to measure this.
Should webloggers not link because of this? No, because the problem doesn’t rest with webloggers — it rests with Google. The technology behind Google’s ranking system breaks with weblogging.
A link is just that — a link. It’s a great way to connect people into a community, or to let others know about new information. However, it shouldn’t be treated as a vote.
Google needs to get smarter; the technology that links the web together needs to get smarter. And we webloggers need to stop treating Google as a favorite pet that never pisses on the carpet — especially when we’re standing in the middle a puddle.