After Australian Computer Society president
Edward Mandla attacked Telstra’s Sensis website in The Age last week he
received a complaint from Telstra, who accused him inaccuracy. He also claims
to have received more than 100 emails from current and former Sensis customers,
congratulating him on the piece, and saying that their attempts to alert Sensis
to the shortcomings of its service have been rebuffed. “People have been
sending me statistics of what (response) they’re getting from Google versus
Yellow Pages,” Mandla tells Crikey, “and it’s very alarming.” He says some of
these businesses tried to inform Sensis about the poor results Sensis was
achieving for them – some out of anger, some through a sense of “patriotism” –
only to have Sensis respond with platitudinous, standardised emails.

In his article, Mandla says he keyed “NSW
Liberal Party” into Google and got the website of the state party at the top of
the listing. But when he fed the same query into Sensis, the party’s site
appeared fourth in the listing, behind links that were “not relevant.” Also,
Mandla said Telstra’s proprietary information sources, like Yellow Pages and
Whereis, were not integrated with the search data.

Responding to Crikey, Sensis says Mandla is
wrong on both counts. Search Sensis for “NSW Liberal Party”, says corporate
affairs manager Karina White, “and you will find it is first.” Also, she says,
search data is integrated with the Yellow and White Pages, Trading Post and
Whereis.

Mandla responds that the NSW Libs did
appear fourth in his initial search, but that since publication of his Age
article the site has jumped to number one in the listing. “I’m glad their
technical people fixed the problem,” he says. As for Sensis providing
integrated information, data from Telstra services can be accessed by clicking
tabs at the top of the search-listing page, but this does not constitute true
integration.

Mandla calls for a single search result
that provides a web page alongside an address, phone number, Whereis map
reference, and the opportunity to be connected by phone at the press of a
button. “Sensis also could have used CitySearch to show me the nearest coffee
shop and checked the Trading Post for any Liberal Party memorabilia for sale,”
he says. “Such a service would lead to Australians dropping search engines
Google and Yahoo! in a flash.”

Peter Fray

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