The NYTimes recently wrote an article A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web, which described how Google can be used as a vehicle for helping bad businesses bring in big profits. The article tells the story of a Ms. Rodriguez who orders eye wear from DecorMyEyes.com and has a truly terrifying experience, which results in the owner of the online store stalking and harassing the customer long after their initial disagreement. The article continues to describe how the owner of DecorMyEyes.com, Vitaly Borker, who works under a number of pseudo names, actually has worked bad publicity and negative comments into his business plan for scoring high on Google.
The owner of the website is quoted as saying: “Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com...I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”
This article presents a very compelling case for a change in search practices that focus on concepts of "positive" and "negative" responses to brands and websites, rather than treat all references as referrals.