"Thanks, John Conde!" I thought to myself, as I clicked through to the excellent comprehensive resource.
But wait -- John Conde didn't ask this question, nor did he supply any answer. How, then, did Google come to think that Mr. Conde was the author of any part of this post?
Then at the bottom, I saw:
One of the mechanisms to establish Google authorship in a search is:
- Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, "By Steven Levy").
- Make sure your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
- Verify you have an email address (such as email@example.com) on the same domain as your content.
It appears that the "by John Conde" in "protected by John Conde" is read as an authorship byline by Google. (This may also be true of the first close-voter in a closed question's "closed as off-topic by John Conde,..." but I haven't observed this yet.)
Thus, it seems that to reproduce this behavior:
- a question must be protected by a user who has a Google+ account
- that user must has a username that matches his real name on his Google+ profile
the user must have a(probably not necessary; see edit)
@stackexchange.comemail address registered with Google+ for ascribing authorship
- the user must have reciprocal
rel="me"links between his Stack Exchange profile and Google+ profile
I naturally don't think this is a very serious or high-priority bug, but it might possibly be solvable by using some sort of
<meta> tags or link
rel attributes (though I haven't looked into it). The worst harm this bug is likely to do is misrepresent the list a person's authored posts when someone views the person through Google search as an author.
@random notes in the comments that John Conde probably does not have a stackexchange.com email address. This seems strange, because Google lists only two methods for showing authorship in search results. The first method requires a confirmed domain-specific email address. The second requires reciprocal links between the authored post and the user's Google+ page, but neither the post nor John's Stack Exchange profile link to his Google+ account.
I'd guess that there's some slightly undocumented method being used here to determine authorship. John probably has reciprocal links between his Google+ page and his personal site,
http://johnconde.net, which is reciprocally linked to his Stack Exchange profile. The link path goes:
Protection banner -> SE profile <--> Personal site <--> Google+ profile
The link in the "website" field of a user's SE profile uses
rel="me", and John's personal site includes a reciprocal
rel="me" link back to his Webmasters.SE profile. According to Google's writeup on the use of
rel in describing authorship:
rel="me"links tell Google that the profiles... represent the same person.
My best guess is that:
- because Google equates the SE profile and the personal site, and
- because Google equates the personal site and the Google+ profile,
- therefore, the mistaken-byline link to the SE profile implies authorship by the owner of the Google+ profile
This might work just as well without the intermediary personal-website step, if the user has reciprocal links directly between their SE profile and Google+ page:
Protection banner -> SE profile <--> Google+ profile
Ultimately, it seems this comes down to Google misreading the "protected by [name]" as an authorship byline, which is obviously Google's fault, but might be within Stack Exchange's power to fix, with the proper application of SEO magic..