Back in the early days of this blog (i.e. last Autumn), Voynich News ranked at about 150th if you did a Google search for “Voynich” – not bad out of 230,000 pages, but certainly with room for improvement. 🙂

Earlier this year, it clawed its way up to about 20th, and then last month up to about 12th: it now it appears anywhere between 1st and 11th (!). I don’t really have any sensible idea why Google’s rankings move around so much: perhaps all the sites are close-to-equally ranked, and the fluctuations arise from a butterfly beating its wings beside an overheated Mountain View server. Yet it seems that this particular butterfly is working especially hard at the moment…

As for the pages that usually rank above Voynich News: well, the Wikipedia entry deserves its place (despite its unbearable focus on the massed ranks of the possible), while I have nothing but praise for Rene Zandbergen’s majestic site. But most of the rest of them are starting to look a little bit old and unmaintained: for instance, John Baez’s Voynich page dates back to January 2005, while the World Mysteries Voynich page seems essentially unchanged from 2003. Admittedly the Crystalinks VMs page has improved over time, but it is still fairly unhelpful.

I suppose this gets to the core of what annoys me most: there isn’t a single Voynich page out there that I would comfortably call “helpful”, apart perhaps from the “Introduction to the Voynich Manuscript” blog entry I put up here a while back (and even though this gets to the point and is reasonably brief, it is still twice as large as it really ought to be). To be honest, I’d write a whole book in that style if I could sustain it for more than three pages… but I suspect I probably couldn’t. Oh well.

Google, of course, has no obligation to direct people either to helpful or to unhelpful sites: it is merely trying to “Do No Evil” (“Eidolon V“? “Devon Oil“?) in its quirky SMERSH-like way, and if its Byzantine page ranking algorithm somehow manages to get you a bit closer to where you want to go, so much the better. Maybe I should find a way of convincing Google’s automated tools to put up some helpful sitelinks (the mini-list of links you sometimes see below search results) for Voynich News: but that’s a mountain to climb another day…

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