Microsoft PageRank?

I’m sure there’s nothing to this, but I have to point it out: a Microsoft employee publicly seeking information on Google PageRank. Roberto D’Angelo, in How Google PageRank(tm) works (the post has been removed, here is a PDF version of the original), discusses how the PageRank algorithm works as well as asks for others to provide additional information.

Anybody find this a bit odd?

I’m not trying to knock Roberto, or Microsoft, it just strikes me as odd that a Microsoft employee would be publicly seeking information on a proprietary feature of a competitor’s product. While it’s normal to review a competitor’s product to see what it does better, trying to figure out patented and proprietary technologies, in a public setting, seems like a bad idea to me.

What gets me about this, is that it’s so public. Digging into a competitor’s product in a public manner will lead to backlash, especially when we’re talking about Google and Microsoft. I can only imagine the comments that will be made as a result of his post. So far I’ve not seen any feedback on this, but I have to image that it will be coming. From a business perspective, I have to suspect this will be considered a mistake.

What do you think, is it really a good idea to publicly dig into the proprietary feature of a competitor’s product?

Update: Since this was published the original page was removed, making public discussion a bit of a moot point. I’m leaving this as I feel it’s an interesting point. I’ve removed the original link and added a link to a PDF file of the original page, for those interested in seeing what was said.