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    +lakes +california +(largest OR "by size")

    what are the 5 largest lakes in California
The first isn't hard, but remember those few years when people would think you're a search guru because you could use + correctly, or when people sold books about how to use Google search? https://www.amazon.com/Google-Hacks-Finding-Worlds-Informati...

Only that google now treats "+" and "-" merely as suggestions, if you want to fine tune your results, google got really bad at that. DDG and bing handle it fine. On google you usually have to find a link to click "yes, really only provide results with the keyword I explicitly provided" and even then you end up with 8 results where you would get hundreds of them a few years ago.

Yes, that's the point. Most people couldn't use + correctly, so Google moved to "", and most people can't use that so Google treats it as a suggestion.

As much as we hate the new google that returns pages that don't contain our search terms, other people love it because it mostly just works for them.

The old Google, the Google where word order mattered and whereyou could use + or -, was hard to use for most people. AskJeeves' selling point was that you could just aski it natural language questions.

Use quotes instead of plus. Plus was reassigned for Google plus

I just realized, they can totally assign it back now...

Google now also treats doublequotes as suggestions now it seems.

On bad days (I'm assuming some A/B-testing going on) it also ignores the verbatim option.

Indeed. Sometimes I think that if I had a text collection of a few sources (like HN), I could do a better job just greping them on my own PC. This is in regard to highly specific queries e.g. when debugging.

A trick I've found out, which strengthens my suspicion that the "bugs" are just stupid a/b tests:

If you get worse results than you usually get, try reporting it (or reporting basically any problem) on the page.

For me at least it seems that magically within hours the problem is now gone.

In the beginning I thought they had fixed the issue I reported really quick. But after seing this happen again (and again) I think a better explanation is they have a systen that opts you out of the tests once you report a problem.

Personally I have moved on to DDG (and I have one browser with Qwant as the default) but this trick helped me a few times.

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