IDG: What can people do in terms of tagging and categorisation in Google News?
Stoll: Not much. Today, the tools we offer allow them to customise the content they get on their pages but we're not actually using many explicit feedback loops from users directly. We offer features built on top of the Web History product which allow users to give us permission to keep track of the articles they've read and we can use that information to offer them some better news articles and better rankings.
IDG: If you had the massive user feedback that these social news sites get, could you use that feedback to improve the Google News ranking calculation?
Stoll: It would be an additional type of signal. We offer a "most popular" section on the front page of many of our editions. That popularity ranking signal is different from how the front page is ranked, which tries to reflect what editors are publishing on their sites. If we introduced a Digg-style feature, it would be more similar to that popularity metric. Today, we're still trying to reflect what editors are doing because that's an important purpose Google News has served: to reflect aggregate editorial interests in a story.
IDG: What are the advantages of using Google News versus Digg or Slashdot?
Stoll: Comprehensiveness is a huge piece. If you want to know if someone in the news space is writing about a subject, you do a search on Google News. If you want to monitor that on an ongoing basis, you set up a Google News alert.