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Bing Is Cheating, Copying Google Search Results 693

An anonymous reader writes "Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google's results, then uses that information to improve Bing's own search listings. Bing doesn't deny this."
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Bing Is Cheating, Copying Google Search Results

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  • Cheating? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jdelisle ( 582839 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:34PM (#35069458) Journal

    And why is that cheating? Sounds like simple observance in an effort to get improve results.

    • Re:Cheating? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:36PM (#35069490)

      "Simple observance in an effort to get improve results."

      If I said that to my teacher when caught cheating, I doubt it would have had much sway.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bunratty ( 545641 )
        I tried to use this excuse when I watched over the admin's shoulder while he was typing his password so I could perform simple admin duties. I tried to argue that I was using simple observance to improve results, but for some reason he didn't buy it either!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It depends on the purpose of the practice.

          The purpose of an exam is to test the student's knowledge and abilities, so using someone else's answer clearly damages this.

          The purpose of an admin password is to prevent unauthorised access, so sneaking a look over the admin's shoulder violates this purpose.

          The purpose of a search engine is to provide search results that match the user's desire for information. What Bing are doing is compatible with this purpose.

          That doesn't mean its right, I'm just pointing out a

      • - embrace the google addon for MS Explorer so you can copy its data

        - extend your own MS Bing engine with new features incompatible with the google addon

        - extinguish the google addon because it can't use the new MS extensions (or simply disallowing its use in Explorer 10)

        - profit


      • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @03:31PM (#35071340)

        If I said that to my teacher when caught cheating, I doubt it would have had much sway.

        Bad analogy. This isn't a test.

        • by grcumb ( 781340 )

          If I said that to my teacher when caught cheating, I doubt it would have had much sway.

          Bad analogy. This isn't a test.

          Yeah! Everybody knows there's no such thing as cheating in business.

          Silly rabbit! Ethics is for kids!

          • by lennier ( 44736 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @05:08PM (#35072642) Homepage

            Yeah! Everybody knows there's no such thing as cheating in business.

            Silly rabbit! Ethics is for kids!

            Of course there's ethics, and the ethical thing to do is to improve your offering to give the customers what they want. And since the search market is all aggregating third-party data to start with, I don't see why it should be 'wrong' to aggregate another aggregator's data. Don't we want an open Internet? How does calling meta-search 'cheating' make any more sense than calling pinging someone elses router 'theft'? Heck, in the before-time, there used to be entire search engines whose business model was *just* meta-search - anyone remember Dogpile?

            Now, depending on your competitor to give you honest responses to your mechanical queries, that might be a weakness...

    • Re:Cheating? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by yincrash ( 854885 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:36PM (#35069494)
      It's like a student cheating on his homework by copying the smart kid. It will only work as long as the smart kid sticks around.
      • It's like a student cheating on his homework...

        No, it's not. This isn't homework or a test.

      • by isorox ( 205688 )

        It's like a student cheating on his homework by copying the smart kid. It will only work as long as the smart kid sticks around.

        Most kids just google the answer now, I'm not sure how the analogy holds up.

    • Re:Cheating? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:39PM (#35069550) Homepage Journal

      It only improves the results for as long as Google is better than Bing. Basically, Microsoft trusts Google more than it trusts its own product.

      • Never Understood (Score:4, Informative)

        by Phoenixlol ( 1549649 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:45PM (#35069646)
        why people ever said Bing returned more relevant results. Maybe it's just because I've been using Google forever that I now know what to type in to get the results I want, but running the same searches over at Bing has_never_gotten me as relevant results.
        • by Locutus ( 9039 )
          maybe the marketing releases are where you heard that BING gives more relevant results.

          I looked at BING when it first came out and when I noticed that out a few pages they were showing some of the same links as what was shown on earlier pages, it was obvious it was just another Microsoft product out to use marketing tricks instead of winning my being better. Sounds like MS BING still sucks. No surprise here. IMO

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 )

        It only improves the results for as long as Google is better than Bing. Basically, Microsoft trusts Google more than it trusts its own product.

        That's not true. It makes perfect sense for a search engine to look for things like this to help it decide what is relevant and what isn't. The only thing "unique" about this particular situation is that it's another search engine instead of some random site that they're mining. Google also looks at the links people click on in their results. It isn't exactly a stretch to assume that every search engine would also want to know which links people are clicking on other search engines. Regardless of which

    • Re:Cheating? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:45PM (#35069634)

      And why is that cheating? Sounds like simple observance in an effort to get improve results.

      I don't think that it is cheating.

      It is slimy, though. Intercepting your customers interactions with a 3rd party for your own benefit is slimy, even if they do click on an "agreement" that they don't read or understand.

      If you want this kind of information, you should pay people for it or make it specifically opt-in. Neilson would be the closest example from the pre-dot-com world.

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      Depends if they're necessarily grabbing the google result, or the fact that people searched for a term, and paired it with what they clicked on. To me that's a legitimate algorithm, (heck, it could be an exercise in machine learning).

      Does the trick work with any search engine, or just google? For example if the engine was bing, but they honepotted something equally random, then trained it with a few dozen clicks then they're just learning based on what people click on, and that it happens to learn from g

    • Re:Cheating? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mibe ( 1778804 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:50PM (#35069744)
      It's cheating because instead of generating good search results, they look at someone else's search results and output those. It's not theft, it's not illegal, but it is kind of a shitty thing to do. Or, here's how the guy interviewed in TFA said it (pretty well if you ask me):

      “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work,” said Singhal. “I don’t know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line.”

    • but Americans are big on getting "the genuine article". From a marketing standpoint, at least, this is cheating, because Google is the 'real deal' and Bing's just a copy cat.
    • Re:Cheating? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Idbar ( 1034346 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:53PM (#35070830)
      Dude, really? On my only interview I got with a guy from Microsoft I was asked if I knew how to build a boat, when I said no, he said how would I do to build a boat for a customer.

      I started to make a list of things I would to to build a boat and then I was asked what would I do if I was asked to have it faster by the customer. My reply was to look into what could wait to be installed later.

      All this time I've been questioning what I answered wrong. And It seems clear now (yes, I didn't get into a second interview): The answer is "copy one", "buy one and disassemble it" or "buy one from the company and make it look like it's yours". Darn! I wish I knew this before my interview! I guess thanks go to Google.
  • Terrible. (Score:4, Funny)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:36PM (#35069504)
    They should really reinvent the wheel. Copying Google's wheel isn't fair! ...
    • by DrDitto ( 962751 )
      How many IE users realize that their Google searches/results are being sent to Microsoft for analysis? Not that Google doesn't analyze their own searches/results...but....WTF?
      • Good point (Score:5, Informative)

        by suomynonAyletamitlU ( 1618513 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:31PM (#35070484)

        You know, people complain that Chrome--built on Chromium, an open source browser, could be sending who knows what to Google about your browsing habits. However, Chrome is entirely optional and user-installed, whereas IE comes standard with windows--to the point where they got in huge-ass trouble previously for stifling competition with it. But while Google lays its cards out for everyone to see (except for the places where Chrome isn't Chromium, admittedly), in order to forestall objections that they might be doing something like this, Microsoft flat-out does it, behind your back.

        Now, some people have said it's a Bing Toolbar thing, and I dunno, not having RTFA; but even so, how often is that going to be shovelware that preys on unwitting users, like every OTHER friggin' IE toolbar? So not only is it preying on Google's algorithm, not only is it stealing user data, it's also coercing unwitting users to be their mule in this attack.

        There's nothing you can say that makes this taste even marginally better. It's shit, and the Bing team should be ashamed, if not prosecuted.

  • Not that suprising. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wideBlueSkies ( 618979 ) * on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:37PM (#35069508) Journal

    I don't expect any mod points for this post... but I'll just say that I'm not surprised by this. Since the launch of Bing, I've kind of questioned how MSFT could have come up with a 'superior' search engine so quickly. Their second (at least) attempt since 2000.....

  • Oblig Car Analogy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

    Is it cheating if Toyota watches what type of car styles Ford drivers prefer and then makes more cars of that style?

    If this information is publicly available, then its not cheating. Its tailoring your service to better serve the customers of a competitor. Isn't that usually how you draw customers to you from a competitor?

    • by Socguy ( 933973 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:43PM (#35069604)
      No, but it is cheating if you lash your Toyota to the Ford then claim better fuel economy.
    • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:54PM (#35069822) Homepage Journal
      You really didn't RTFA, did you? Google set up FALSE, or FAKE results, and Bing copied them right onto their own search pages. Bing wasn't just watching Google - they outright stole Google's faked data. In the car analogy, Toyota would have watched to see what Ford was building, but Ford would have caught on, and set up a parking lot full of plywood cars without motors. Toyota then stole the fake cars, rebranded them as Toyota, and sold them on the market. Geeez. Microsoft fanbois will go to extremes to justify anything and everything that Microsoft does.
      • I'd send 'em all directly to goatse.
        unless that's what they were searching for
      • Nah - if Ford had fake customers coming into their showrooms to make fake purchases to mislead competitors who are watching, it doesn't reduce the legitimacy of watching your competitors (products, sales) to improve your own business. It might make Toyota in this analogy look stupid if they started building ridiculous cars that (wrongly) appeared to be popular at Ford, and that's all that applies here too.

        There's nothing wrong with Microsoft trying to glean which of Google's "products" are most popular, so

      • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

        The results were not "FALSE" or "FAKE" in the sense you mean, Bing does not read the google result page and copy items, and managed to copy some fake items. These were perfectly legitimate sites that had a zero rank given the proposed query. When google engineers started clicking on those sites as a result of the - seemingly to Bing given the data at the time - unrelated queries, they fed Bing with user data connecting the search terms with the sites in question. Thus, the sites started ranking well.
        I would

    • Your analogy would hold water if Bing was copying the style of the results page (layout, colors, etc).

      In this case, a better analogy would be if Ford bought key Toyota parts, put them in Ford vehicles, and then bragged about the superiority of Ford cars and trucks.

    • Is it cheating if Toyota watches what type of car styles Ford drivers prefer and then makes more cars of that style?

      That's not what is happening here. If you need things in the form of a car analogy, its as if Toyota manufactured spark plugs that were installed in cars, some of which were Fords, and the spark plugs had sensors which could be used to detect information about the engine that they were installed in, and transmit that information back to Toyota, and Toyota used that information to feed into their own engine designs.

  • by imthesponge ( 621107 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:38PM (#35069538)
    It just made the decision to copy from Google.
  • Today's top story is that companies are plagiarizing things they find on the internet. Not only will they steal your recipe and sell it, they will reverse-engineer your search algorithms in an attempt to more effectively take over the market.

    Next on the news, Egypt gets a reminder of what the Streisand effect is, and why you don't want to be the focus of it. Also cats.

  • by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:40PM (#35069558)

    (into someone else's IP)
  • Yahoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reorix ( 1184073 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:40PM (#35069560) Homepage
    Yahoo -> Bing -> Google

    Looks like Yahoo gets the 3-day-old-bagel of search results.
  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:42PM (#35069592) Homepage Journal

    It seems like this is publicly available information. Were there any stipulations, even if informal, on how that information could be used?

    • by Jahava ( 946858 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:48PM (#35069710)

      It seems like this is publicly available information. Were there any stipulations, even if informal, on how that information could be used?

      Nobody's saying this is illegal (... yet?). Rather, it significantly reduces Bing's legitimacy as an innovative search technology and as a competitor to Google. In literature, using someone else's work requires a citation. For all ethical purposes, Bing should be labelled "powered by Google".

      • There are also many other types of situations where it a citation is not ethically required or even permitted.
        Citation is not permitted in this case, because it would violate Google's trademark.

        • by Jahava ( 946858 )

          There are also many other types of situations where it a citation is not ethically required or even permitted. Citation is not permitted in this case, because it would violate Google's trademark.

          Saying "we use Google" doesn't violate Google's trademark at all. Saying "we are Google", on the other hand, does. Big difference.

    • Like much of what Microsoft does, it's not technically 'wrong', but it certainly is pretty darned sleazy and underhanded.

      And like most people who defend Microsoft, you concentrate on what's 'wrong', not whether something is sleazy or underhanded. I don't like companies that do sleazy and underhanded things. If they do it to their competition, they'll do it to me if they think it'll make a buck.

      • How so?

        I don't see anything sleazy or underhanded about using publicly-available information to improve your product.

        Besides, it's not as if Google hasn't completely ripped-off Bing's image search... mud slings both ways.

        • Well, it's not really publicly available. Bing had to spy on end users to get it.

          Secondly, it's not using publicly available information to improve your product. It's using a competitors product in place of your own and slapping your own name on it. That's fine in the world of manufacturing, but it's not fine in the world of information. It's basically finding a sneaky underhanded way around using Google's search API which they require trademark attribution to use.

        • How so?

          I don't see anything sleazy or underhanded about using publicly-available information to improve your product.

          Besides, it's not as if Google hasn't completely ripped-off Bing's image search... mud slings both ways.

          BRAND... to improve Microsoft's BRAND. Not their product. Their product is an innovative, better, search and decision engine (or so they claim) and based on their press releases and statements about it, that's based on their "superior" ranking, rating and decision making engine. That *product* isn't improved by it, even if the results are improved. Thus, the BRAND is improved by having more relevant results by "borrowing" those results from Google, while the *PRODUCT* is showing to be enough of a failure at

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iammani ( 1392285 )

      It would be completely acceptable if the information were publicly available.But what Bing Toolbar (allegedly) does is, when you visit google, it saves your search keyword and the results and sends them to Bing servers. And when someone else searches for similar keywords on Bing, it display these results. This in my opinion is not acceptable.

      • by clodney ( 778910 )

        That is not what the FA alleges. The suspected mechanism is far more subtle. The suspicion is that URLs you type are captured by IE as part of its "suggested sites" feature, as well as URLs you visit. So you have a URL containing a Google search query, and a short time later you click on a link. MS appears to be correlating those links, noting that after visiting ABC, some users go to DEF. And the article goes to some pains to point out that this appears to be a low order search factor, which is only

    • It seems like this is publicly available information.

      They are capturing user's search results on Google from users using Internet Explorer with the Bing Toolbar and/or Suggested Sites, and using that to drive Bing rankings. It's not "publicly available information". It does appear to be information within the scope of the privacy policy associated with those features, though.

    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <`eldavojohn' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:40PM (#35070632) Journal

      It seems like this is publicly available information.

      But it's not, you obviously didn't read the article. Here was the process: 1) Google employee makes sure some fake word does not exist in google or bing search results. 2) Said employee points google's cache results of that word to some random page. 3) Said employee uses Internet Explorer at his desk at Google to make the search appear in Google, then selects the only link as the correct thing he was looking for and Bing somehow acquires this information. 4) Search now appears in Bing.

      I've highlighted the step that isn't really public information. The step that indicates to Bing that the link is interesting to someone, the step that they are acquiring through internet explorer! Total privacy violation, in my opinion.

  • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:43PM (#35069612) Homepage

    From the article it seems that MS is tracking which google (and I assume any other search engine, including Bing) search results people are clicking, and then trying to promote these in their results.
    It does sound like something very logical to do to improve search results, doesn't it?

    • Incompetence is the last resort of the violent? Oh - your logic? If it were that simple, maybe. But, how do you explain the fake results that made it into Bing searches? I mean - simply watching Google might be alright, but stealing Google's data - be it real or fake - is not alright.
      • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:21PM (#35070304) Homepage

        Let me make this plain to you:
        Bing does not seem to care about which results Google returns. What it cares is the sites people choose to visit as a result of a search query. When people use bing for searching, bing can always get that piece of data and improve results, when people use their toolbar they can also get that information from queries running on other search engines.
          The "fake results" were real sites that were just unrelated to the search. So bing was seing people after searching for something to be clicking on a website it thought irrelevant. In 7-9% of the cases that result got a good boost in Bing results, after all if people really do want to read that after doing that search, why not put it there?
        It is interesting that this worked for only a small percentage of fake results, when all the queries where strings that would not be typed naturally, so had no "real" results, although it is expected that Bing would not "blindly" use clickthrough data, but only along with other factors.

  • How's this any different from the typical Microsoft behavior?
  • Close the loop? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:45PM (#35069636)

    Now what happens if Google, to improve its search results, starts copying Bing as well? Is this feedback interconnection stable, or will it merely result in spurious noise being amplified, which commentators will misidentify as vast social movements?

  • The lawyers would just love this.
  • Look at this, what (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Stefan Weitz, director of Microsoft’s Bing search engine:

    Opt-in programs like the [Bing] toolbar help us with clickstream data, one of many input signals we and other search engines use to help rank sites. This “Google experiment” seems like a hack to confuse and manipulate some of these signals.

    So this "opt-in" program can track all of your clicks and record it for whatever. This is nothing like the Google privacy violation at all, they "opted-in" to this search toolbar so all privacy vio

  • Sounds like someone's getting a bit over-excited here.

    Since when is improving a product cheating, and does Google really need a "sting" to figure out that Microsoft is trying to (shock! horror!) keeping an eye on Google using the results to improve Bing?

    It seems that Google's complaint (not "complain" you illiterate mofos) is that Bing is just tweaking results instead of investing time/money making those results come out of an algorithm, but I'd be very surprised if Google themselves don't have a zillion sp

  • Mountweazels (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:54PM (#35069828) Homepage Journal

    Dictionary makers deliberately introduce "mountweazels", fake words designed to catch people violating their copyrights. Map makers use "copyright traps", fake streets.

    Sounds like Google did this on a one-time basis, but it seems to me that they could make it permanent. If nothing else, finding the mountweazels could be fun.

    They already have a few jokes interspersed, like "anagram" and "french military victories". I wonder if Bing shows unexpected results for those.

    • by burris ( 122191 )

      Google search results and rankings are generated algorithmically. Since there is no creativity involved it isn't protected by Copyright.

  • I've noticed in a lot of these Google vs. Bing articles, someone would give an example search to demonstrate Google's better search ability. Then someone would reply to the post later saying, "Well Bing can find it now, and it hasn't even been that long."

    Maybe Google could deny Microsoft's servers access to their website. Or maybe get real clever and set up an algorithm that sends MS servers bogus information when they inquire to make their search results completely irrelevant.

    • I hate replying to myself but upon reading the article, I was wrong: they're not using their servers to search Google, they're piggybacking off of data Internet Explorer stores. I still think Google could figure out an algorithm to exploit this and send bunk information (wouldn't it be funny if Bing returned pornography results for practically anything searched?), it would just be a little more complicated. Fortunately, they have the software engineers to do it.

      Or, Google could just ban IE, but that's prett

  • ...is the sincerest form of flattery

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Microsoft has been "borrowing" and "copying" since it's first iteration of Windows.

  • "ATTENTION ALL OTHER RADIO STATIONS! ... Ha! Caught ya listening! Z-105!"

    (Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. ftfy.)

  • by harvey the nerd ( 582806 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:06PM (#35070048)
    Copying other people's work is a fine old Microsoft tradition.

    I'd just like to know who Bill G sat next to when he took the SAT :)
  • I think i'll build my own search engine, Bingle, to merge the results from them both and be the best search engine of all.

  • by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:09PM (#35070104)

    People are not leaving Google because other search engines are getting better.

    Rather, people are leaving because Google is getting worse and has lost focus of search simplicity.

    Google instant drove me out.

    If start typing and several pages fly by per second, this increases the garbage to information ratio, is inefficient, and disruptive. Often, the result is a blank page.

    I switched to duckduckgo, as it simple, and the results are good.

    Occasionally, I will use !g in the duckduckgo search to access google, but I try to avoid it.

    Google should stop worrying about Bing, and look within.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:12PM (#35070146)

      DuckDuckGo is largely redisplaying results from Bing, which as this article points out, is itself taking results from Google. So if you think the results there are good, that's not really a surprise - they come from the big G.

      Also, you can easily switch Instant off if you don't like it.

  • "It’s difficult for me to feel a sense of injustice or outrage with any of the big search engines, because their products have so clearly immitated each other for so long. Google isn’t at all pure in this area" Chris Silver Smith

    Do please provide veriable examples of Google copying Microsoft?

    "Even your criticism of Google seems aimed at ‘lesser’ offences", Badams

    Please provide verifiable examples of Googles greater offences?

    "Google aren’t entirely blameless when it comes to bei

  • Since I read this moments earlier on Engadget, like many of the things I see here later...
  • Well, to be fair, maybe if Google wasn't copying other peoples stuff I'd feel sorry for them. iPhone

  • by Tawnos ( 1030370 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:36PM (#35070566)

    Most likely, Bing is acquiring clickthrough data from textbox input and pairing it with link click followthrough. That is, Bing watches what people type and what links they click after typing it. Did Google ever try other mechanisms to munge results, such as using an internal search page (i.e. one where it uses some proprietary engine to search, say, a forum) and see if Bing started reporting those results? If so, it would indicate that coming from Google had nothing to do with the mechanism of acquisition, and that it was strictly parsing URL or textbox entries combined with link clickthrough. Implying that Bing's response of "we use a lot of vectors" is the same as saying "we steal stuff from Google, so what" is trolltastic at best, and blatantly misleading at worst.

  • by harl ( 84412 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:55PM (#35070866)

    Can Bing do exact text searching. And by exact I mean exact. Contrary to what Google thinks capitalization and special characters are important. Stop throwing them away Google!

  • Is It Illegal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AftanGustur ( 7715 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:19PM (#35071910) Homepage

    Suffice to say, Google’s pretty unhappy with the whole situation, which does raise a number of issues. For one, is what Bing seems to be doing illegal? Singhal was “hesitant” to say that since Google technically hasn’t lost anything. It still has its own results, even if it feels Bing is mimicking them.

    The same can be said when I copy a DVD, RIAA hasn't lost anything, they still have their own copy!

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato