Bing is dipping its toes into a form of what Google calls “authorship” with today’s announcement that news writers are now being featured in Bing’s Social Sidebar.
U.S.-based searchers can now see journalists appearing in the “People Who Know” section of the Bing sidebar. These authors are often mixed in with those who appeared in “People Who Know” before — people who’ve answered questions on Quora or who tweet regularly about the search topic.
Here’s a search I just did for “seattle mariners,” which shows two authors in “People Who Know” along with several others.
Those who are appearing as “authors” can be distinguished from others in the “People Who Know” section because they’ll have the words “writes for” after their names and hovering over their profiles brings up a list of articles, rather than a list of tweets or other social media links.
It’s possible that someone can be determined relevant for the People Who Know section both from being handpicked as an author (see further below) and because of their social media sharing on sites like Twitter, Quora, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Google+ and Blogger. Those who fall into both categories are likely to have the hover display show links from their social profiles, rather than an author display, Bing told us.
Bing Is Handpicking Authors
In its blog post, Bing describes the authors that might show up in the sidebar as “experts in their fields, sharing the latest news, developing events and information out with the greater world.”
The blog post is coy about who’s considered an author and how Bing identified publications and authors to include, but a spokesperson explained to us via e-mail that Bing is currently handpicking who to include:
Currently our roster of experts is created and managed by the Bing team which we update regularly….
We have selected an initial list of news experts and authors and constantly update the list and trigger terms.
We were also told there are about 45,000 authors in the group, and that Bing plans to add more to this initial set each day.
The blog post goes on to say that Bing is “hard at work to grow our coverage,” but Bing declined to answer our questions about whether authors would eventually have a way to apply for or request consideration for author status.
Google’s authorship feature has been showing author images in search results since the summer of 2011. But rather than handpick who’s included, Google has setup an authorship process that’s evolved over time to allow online authors to try to get Google to show their picture in its search results.