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WordPress Saves Creative Commons Search Engine From Shutting Down

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Creative Commons Search is joining WordPress.org, which will help keep the search engine of free-to-use images running for the foreseeable future.

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of WordPress parent company Automattic, says he decided to bring CC Search on board after hearing it was in danger of shutting down:

“I am a long-time supporter of Creative Commons and their influential work on open content licenses, and when we heard they were considering shutting down their CC Search engine we immediately started exploring ways we could keep it going.”

One of the ways Mullenweg is going to keep CC Search going is by giving it a new home on WordPress.org.

This will remove significant overhead expenses for CC Search, as WordPress will be covering the costs of hosting its repository of 500 million images.

“I am eager to give a new home to their open search product on WordPress.org in continued commitment to open source freedoms, and providing this community resource for decades to come.”

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization which offers an ad-free search experience. CC Search is dependent on donations to stay running.

With hosting costs removed, CC Search will be less dependent on the generosity of users going forward.

In addition, Automattic is hiring key members of the CC Search team and sponsoring their work.

Creative Commons relies on a team of volunteer developers to maintain its open source projects.

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It’s possible some of those volunteers will be getting paid for their work for the first time. Though it’s unclear if Automattic is hiring CC’s volunteers or members of its full-time engineering staff.

In any case, this is a big win for Creative Commons, which has been helping publishers find openly licensable images since 2001.

Mullenweg notes that CC Search will soon be adding support for audio and video. It’s likely that wouldn’t be possible without this assistance from WordPress.

The hiring of CC Search team members opens the door for expanding its capabilities with more features in the future.

Mullenweg says he will share details about upcoming plans in a few weeks once everything from CC Search is live and running on WordPress.

At this time it’s not known what the change will mean for WordPress site owners. Other than the benefit of having continued access to CC Search.

I’m sure on the top of everyone’s wish list is the ability to search for and add images to posts without leaving the WordPress editor.

Creative Commons currently offers an official WordPress plugin which makes it easy for site owners to add free use licenses to their own content. It’s possible that functionality could be offered natively in future versions of WordPress.

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Creative Commons has yet to release an official statement, but former CEO Ryan Merkley offered his thoughts on Twitter:

“When I started CC Search, I always hoped it would become part of the infrastructure of the Internet. [Matt Mullenweg] and I first talked about CC Search in 2018, and he immediately saw the potential. I’m so happy to see this happen. It’s great for WordPress, and great for the Commons.”

Source: Matt Mullenweg’s personal blog

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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