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Google Rant Beta

Google has been bothering me lately. The one thing that started their dynasty, the searching, is what is now making me want to find a better search engine altogether. I suppose I'm in the minority, because all of the things that I hate have stuck around for quite a while, and I see no options or preferences to change them. If anyone knows how to fix any of the issues I describe, I'd love for you to share. So here is a list of things about Google that annoy me.

  1. Automatically searching for different forms of the same word. Every now and then, this can be useful, but more often than not, I have to (re)search with a minus sign on one particular form of a word that is dominating the results. For example, when I'm searching for a little-known Starflyer 59 fan-made tribute album called Translations, I did a search for "starflyer 59" translations. (Now, of course, this brought up about 1,000,000 results for lyrics translation, but that couldn't be helped on the server-side). That muddied up the results enough on its own. The real problem is that they have a song called "the translator," and Google is pretty damn sure that's really what I was searching for. I appreciate the ingenuity of this "feature," but I just find it almost useless. "Did you mean...", on the other hand, is a great feature, and I'd love it if they just suggested other forms that were commonly found in these pages, instead of assuming and returning what it thinks was my intended query. Having to search twice (and sometimes three times) with new queries like "starflyer 59" translations -translator is unnecessary and annoying. Edit: There is a workaround for this. See the edited comment on #3.

  2. Correcting my "typing mistakes" for me. If I'm looking for the band mewithoutYou and I search verbatim for it, I'm gonna end up with pages that say "I had him give it to me without you knowing." Google didn't ask me if I meant "me without you," it just assumed. Once again, "Did you mean..." would've worked fine, but apparently most users are just plain too stupid to use that and need Google to babysit their search queries.

  3. Finding pages that don't contain all of my words so as not to return zero results. If I want to find pages that contain both "the smiths" and "the cure," I'm unsure how to do that. If I type "the smiths" "the cure," it will inevitably return pages that contain just one of those bands on it. This wouldn't be a problem if they owned up to it and I knew that I had to use the AND operator, but they don't. In fact, if you use the AND operator, Google thinks that you're an old 85-year-old who last used gopher:// and lets you know that Google searches for all words by default. No you don't. And not only do you not do that by default, I cannot even find a way to force you to. Edit: They have now changed this. Using AND or the plus operator is now the correct way to search for all words. Why this isn't the default is beyond me. And look, if you can't find any pages that contain both, just tell me. I think I can take it.

The biggest problem is that most other search engines are so bad that Google still wins even with these annoying flaws. I had high hopes for Wikia Saerch, but until it gets a much larger user base, the results are just not going to be good enough. I still use it from time to time, and try to rate results in order to help them, but most of the time I end up back at Google.

Anyone else have these problems, or other problems with searching the web these days?


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
1. I was able to recreate this, using your original search. Try this: "starflyer 59" +translations

2. Unable to recreate. Original search returned myspace.com/mewithoutyou and mewithoutyou.com as its first two hits. Third hit was the expected Wikipedia entry.

3. Again, unable to recreate. In the top five hits:
- http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=169191
- http://www.last.fm/event/1116275
- http://www.morrissey-solo.com/articles/01/09/11/0322241.shtml
- http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080221181158AAkmo75

Jul. 13th, 2009 05:17 am (UTC)
This wasn't a bug report. I was giving examples of things I might be searching for. Other than the first one (which prompted this entry), I didn't perform the other two searches. The problems still exist whether or not they bother you personally.
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
... did you try my suggested search for the first?
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Yes, and I edited my entry to reflect such.
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
Working examples of #2 include happinessiseasy and howto.
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:53 am (UTC)
Wrap 'em in quotes and try again.
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:53 am (UTC)
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:54 am (UTC)
*shrug* Suit yourself.
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
I tried out Bing, and from the first couple of tries, it looks like it respects all words by default and will not use other forms of words by default. For example, searching for "starflyer 59" translations -lyrics brings up only relevant results.
Jul. 13th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
I've had similar experiences. If I search for "Georgia sunrise" I don't want pictures of a Maine sunrise or of Georgia peaches. But Google seems to find things the others miss.
Jul. 13th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I noticed that sometimes quotes won't make it find only the phrase, but pages that have both of those words and have a high pagerank (presumably). I need a search engine that gives the user more control over the results.

And yeah, Google's index is huge. There are some lesser-known pages that I can search for by name and not find in other engines.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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