Freedom of the Press: Baidu vs Google

Freedom of the press is a privilege that most of us take for granted—we assume its rooted existence without question, thanks to the blessings of our First Amendment. But what about nations who lack a liberal constitution, nations whose political systems are far from Western democracy?

China is one example. On the Internet alone, nearly all potentially subversive material is banned, as are many of the platforms upon which it can be published. The social networking/blogging sites Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are prohibited as part of what is referred to as The Great Firewall of China. The Firewall also blocks many parts of other sites that might contain information on topics like anti-communism, the history of China, or—most strikingly—the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989.

For example, in mainland China, if I google “tiananmen square protest,” the search results page will fail to load. Even just “tiananmen square” will activate the firewall and trigger an Internet failure. If I switch to Bing, I get the same results. This is where China’s main search engine, Baidu, comes into play. On it you can type in “tiananmen square protest,” but the results are next to irrelevant: they’re related to Tiananmen Square, but either are totally unrelated to the 1989 protests, write them off, or condemn them.

An image search shows the disparity more clearly (click to enlarge):

Tiananmen Square Protest Search

Note that I am actually using Google UK on the right-hand side as the proxy server I am using routes there. The difference between the results from Baidu and Google is astounding—you’d think they were searching two completely different events.

More interestingly, according to the Chinese Internet, the Tank Man never existed. The man who stopped a column of tanks by standing in front of them. This guy:

Tank Man

He’s nowhere to be found in China. It’s as if he were a Western myth. For amusement, I have attached here the image comparison from above, with the word “tank” added to the end of the query:

Tiananmen Square Tank

So neither the tank man nor the tanks existed—if you know what I mean.

Happy Fourth of July!

Google and this Blog

Today’s post examines how people find my blog, as I thought it would be interesting to see how this blog generates traffic. WordPress has a built-in statistics tracker including what search terms people searched to click to the site—mainly from Google. I’m going to use two different days of stats.

Tuesday May 11, 2010

Total # of Views: 117

Most viewed pages:

Title Views
StarCraft II Unit Review: Protoss Void R 27
Home page* 23
The StarCraft II Map Editor, in Context 11
Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… 11
US Census 2010 Win 8
Testing WordPress-Facebook Posting 5
Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool 5
The Brain’s Dark Energy 4
The Persistence of Memory 3
WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Facebook, Tw 3
Sleep: A Heuristic Examination 2
Visit to the University of Chicago 2
Philosophy of The Matrix (Part 1) 2
College Decisions 1
StarCraft II Beta Overview 1
Life, L-IB-erty, and the Pursuit of H-AP 1
On Writing Well 1
New Laptop, and Laptop Comparison 1
Candide 1
IB Theory of Knowledge 1
Negative Correlation 1
36.8% in Probability 1
The Use of Rhetoric to Obscure a Lack of 1
AP/IB Exams 1

* “Home page” involves any hit on any page number, so if someone looked at the first three pages of blog posts, that would count as three hits, not one.

So that’s a breakdown of what people viewed. It doesn’t represent Google searches exactly as some people visit the blog without searching for it while others click on links to pages from my Facebook. Here are the searches that people clicked to the blog on that day:

Search Views
sleep 5
void ray 4
starcraft 2 void ray 2
let a kiss fool you 2
starcraft 2 void ray rush 2
void rays 2
on writing well abstract 1
protoss phoenix review 1
tumblr vs wordpress vs blogger 1
candide philosophy 1
how to get sc2 map editor 1
the use of rhetoric to obscure a lack of* 1
how to counter protoss void ray 1
moving matrix code 1
best defense against void starcraft 1
what is the map editor in starcraft ii c* 1
best against void ray 1
649,740 1
map editor starcraft 2 list of condition 1
starcraft 2 terran void ray counter 1
ap physics c how do you think you did 1
clever quips on census 1
sc2 editor triggers 1
warp ray 1
code matrix 1
this isnt a chair exist philosophy 1
tumblr not facebook 1
starcraft 2 void ray counter 1
low energy state of the brain 1
how to kill protoss void 1
how does protoss work 1
best protoss anti air unit starcraft 2 1
protoss void ray counter 1
starcraft 2 map editor triggers 1
iblogo 1
laptop 1
starcraft 2 terrain editor 1
starcraft 2 stragegy void ray counter 1
starcraft ii void ray defense 1
mutalisk vs void ray 1
sc2 map editor changing unit model 1
tumblr vs facebook 1
the brain’s dark energy scientific ameri* 1
void ray rush 1
theory of knowledge ib books 1
starcraft 2 protoss best single unit 1
scientific american march 2010 1
ib history exam paper 3 2010 1
“warcraft iii” “comments” “overview” 1
nargaque 1

* The stat-tracker cuts off the stored search string if it is really long.

Interestingly, people search for the Void Ray (from StarCraft II) a LOT. Quite a few searches total are on that.

The single most searched term was “sleep” and I found this rather odd. My only post that focuses on sleep is “Sleep: A Heuristic Examination,” but from the actual view table this post only had two views. The conclusion: When you see an individual blog post from Google search of a WordPress blog, it has both the given article AND the home page. Thus, of the five clicks, two were on the article and three were on the home page.

Other interesting search terms:

  • let a kiss fool you—there’s a post called “Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You,” on a book with the same title.
  • protoss phoenix review—the post “StarCraft II Unit Review: Protoss Void Ray” had the word “Phoenix” in it, so somehow this happened.
  • 649,740—this looks completely random, but it’s actually the denominator of the chance that you get a royal flush, i.e. 1/649,740. Linked to “36.8% in Probability.”
  • this isnt a chair exist philosophy—to one of the “Philosophy of The Matrix” posts.

Alright, let’s try a different date.

Sunday, May 9, 2010.

Total views: 225

Title Views
Home page 59
US Census 2010 Win 39
StarCraft II Unit Review: Protoss Void R 29
Senioritis 27
The StarCraft II Map Editor, in Context 15
WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Facebook, Tw 8
Negative Correlation 7
Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool 5
AP/IB Exams 5
The Brain’s Dark Energy 4
Quotations from Alice in Wonderland 3
College Decisions 3
“The Larvas are Being Larvated” 3
About 3
College, and the 15% Rule 2
Quotations from Through the Looking Glas 2
The Great Gatsby 2
The Riemann Hypothesis 1
College Acceptance Status 1
The Use of Rhetoric to Obscure a Lack of 1
Essays 1
IB Theory of Knowledge 1
Alice in Wonderland 1
Kevin Tian 1
The Aims of Education 1
The Scarlet Letter Mock Trial 1

This was the day I posted “Senioritis,” and its view count is mostly from Facebook. It would make sense that the Home page has the most views, but to someone new to this blog, the high number of views of “US Census 2010 Win” might be confusing. These hits are mostly from StumbleUpon. Digg was able to bring 80,000+ visitors in one day, but the traffic it generates dies down after about a week. StumbleUpon had a lower spike, at around 20,000 visitors, but is continuously generating traffic. Now, the search stats.

Search Views
starcraft ii unit review 3
sc2 editor freeze unit animations 2
sleep 2
protoss ground unit anti air 2
nargaque 2
starcraft 2 map editor dota 2
marcus raichle 2
the great gatsby global statement 2
nargaque blog 1
how to beat void ray rush 1
hypothesis 1
starcraft 2 protoss counter void ray 1
starcraft 2 terran build order 1
caltech waitlist 2010 1
starcraft 2 how to kill void ray 1
tweedledum and tweedledee contrariwise 1
starcraft 2 map editor script 1
“they were learning” alice quote 1
facebook post appear on tumblr 1
starcraft 2 map editor modify terrain 1
starcraft 2 map editor scripting 1
the use of rhetoric to obscure a lack of 1
how do void ray charges work? 1
iraq war tok 1
scarlet letter 1
how to use the void ray 1
phoenix rush protoss 1
what do the codes in the matrix mean 1
where can i find my starcraft 2 map edit 1
starcraft 2 air defense protoss 1
terran how to counter void ray rush 1
how void ray works 1
things that happened the week after next 1
kevin tian 1
wordpress.com (clash of the titans) 1
how to change upgrade in starcraft 2 map 1
“marcus e. raichle” 1
voidray 1
ib exams waiting for godot 1
starcraft 2 map editor triggers 1
my birthday is tomorrow 1
starcraft 2 protoss block ramp 1
ib may exam 2010 physics 1
counter protoss void ray 1
tumblr over facebook 1
counter massed void rays 1
cornell college of arts and sciences wai 1
starcraft 2 units protoss ray 1
void ray 1
void ray attack 1

As the tables indicate, there is not really one exact search string that brings a lot of traffic to this blog. It’s very dispersed actually. There are quite a few bizarre ways people got to the site, for example: iraq war tok, hypothesis, my birthday is tomorrow, kevin tian, caltech waitlist 2010, and ib exams waiting for godot. Google seems to do a whole-blog search at times, because I do have Iraq and war in one article, and TOK in another, but not together. Similarly, I have IB exams in one article and Waiting for Godot in another, but someone got here by searching for both. Weird.