Google has added a new direct answer box to the top of the search results that shows quotes from famous people. If you search for a famous person and add “quotes” to the end of the query, it is likely that you will see the box.
Here is an example of how the famous quotes box looks like in the top of the search results on desktop and mobile.
Google Not Listing Source Of Quotations
It appears that Google is pulling the quotes from across the web but not citing or sourcing the location they found these famous quotes. This would obviously upset webmasters who spent time and money licensing and/or cultivating web sites with these quotes, just to find Google placing a box at the top of the search results with the answer to the searchers query. This would lead to less traffic for these famous quote web sites.
Alex Chitu notes, “it’s worth pointing out that Google doesn’t link to the sources,” adding “quotes are extracted from various web pages and attribution seemed unnecessary for Google.”
Postscript: Getting Quotes Right & Wrong
(The part below is from Search Engine Land founding editor Danny Sullivan, who spent some time testing the service.)
Another issue is that because Google is pulling quotes from across the web, without human review, it might misattribute quotes to the wrong people if publishers themselves have done this.
Some checking found that for Mark Twain, who often has quotes misattributed to him, Google didn’t have any issues. This was the same case with Albert Einstein and many other common misquotations off Wikipedia’s page that we checked. But Google still can get it wrong.
For P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute” is the first of famous quotes listed for him:
The problem here is that no one can prove P.T. Barnum said this. Actually, there’s evidence a competitor said it about him.
For J.P. Morgan, his “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it” quote is listed:
As with the Barnum quote, evidence Morgan actually said this is in dispute.
Then there’s Marie Antoinette and her famous “Let them eat cake” quote being listed:
Again, there’s no solid evidence that she actually said this. That’s the bigger problem with Google not providing sources. It can lead to mistakes, but it also means you don’t get any further context about the quote. Why might people often misattribute a quote? When and where was an accurate quote actually said and why?
For example, consider this quote from Google executive chair Eric Schmidt:
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place,” is the quote. When did Schmidt say this? Where? Why? None of that is sourced, yet all of it is important context for the quote.
By the way, Schmidt said the quote during a 2009 documentary interview with CNBC, when being asked about privacy issues and search history.