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See results for: WTF

14 Mar

You may have noticed that Google will automatically suggest alternate searches if it determines, in its nigh-infinite wisdom, that some other search is better than the one you typed in.  Sometimes this works nicely; for example, if I type in liberachi, it suggests to “See results for: liberace” (this is beyond the normal spelling correction suggestion, which it also does on this example). 

Recently, I was looking at some pictures of disemboweled mice and their visceral organs, and when I googled visceral, it told me to “See results for: dictionary“. 

Huh?  Dictionary?  In the absence of visceral having a meaning I never anticipated, I’m guessing that Google decided that the results it received for that word were too dissimilar to each other for its results to be what I was actually looking for, and that I’d be better served by just looking it up.  Some quick searching on this topic yielded fruit: chided and perturbed (for example) also lead to the suggestion “See results for: dictionary“.   There are other examples too, but nobody seemed to be sure why Google responds this way.

I mentioned this to L.L., who is interested in Information Retrieval, and she replied with an even better example; searching for: 

endangered species Africa

prompts Google to ask you to:

See results for: cookie recipe

Who’s cooking with endangered animals from Africa?  Worse, who is making cookies out of them?  Worse yet, who makes cookies from endangered African species so often that they thought “oh!  I should share this recipe on the web!” 

mmm…  endangered animal cookies…

(Thanks to Dan for the delicious idea of endangered animal cookies).

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3 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2007 in Alchemy, Entertainment

 

3 responses to “See results for: WTF

  1. zappoman

    March 15, 2007 at 5:29 am

    That is just crazy!

     
  2. Eric

    March 29, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    I think visceral kind of makes sense because it’s an adjective, so it would be like searching for “shoddy” or “rambunctious”.. In general people search for nouns because they want content about objects while most people don’t dedicate websites to adjectives.

    But the real question is about the endangered species Africa thing..

    Wait, I just tried it, and the search didn’t make such a suggestion! Maybe they’ve corrected this.

     
  3. halfawake

    March 29, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Eric — I still get the cookie recipe thing… Make sure you search for ‘endangered species Africa’ WITHOUT any quotes.

    As for visceral, I see what you mean, but I think it would make more sense to link to the dictionary definition of visceral rather than just a search for the word “dictionary”. Google has no problems if you search for “define: visceral”.

     

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