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Ask HN: Has Google search become quantitatively worse?
755 points by itchyjunk 55 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 494 comments
I used to have better time googling in the past. I struggle to find things I remember finding in the past using google. I think I might be stuck in some old habits of googling and I've lost touch with modern google.

For example, google seems to want full sentences instead of just keywords now. "How do I do X?" seems to get me better(?) results then "X + some relevant keyword". But I can't seem to get past this "most popular responses" google things I need. I do appreciate youtube videos marked at certain times but watching video isn't always what I want to do. Tangentially, has youtube search been integrated to youtube search or something now? I used to be able to search obscure music in youtube. "Sal dulu a" would both recommend "Sal dulu antasma" and list it but now unless i search for that particularly, it doesn't show up.

Any pro tips on how to google (or use search engines) like a modern human would be appreciated. Or modern version of google dorking (which also seems to not work like it used to for me). Thank you.

The results keep getting "refined" so as to suit the popular 80% of queries, while getting much worse for any technical or obscure queries. Forced synonyms and "people also searched for" are typically useless and almost infuriating. Once you get off the first or second page, the results get even worse-- with pages entirely unrelated to the query (e.g. not even containing the searched phrases). They are probably testing/already implemented some sort of multi armed bandit type optimization like on Youtube's search results where they just show any popular pages (ignoring relevancy) to see if they yield a click.

I've used DDG for the past ~5 years, and it is typically worse without using a hashbang like !so for technical queries. I guess that is what the web has evolved to-- knowing which mega-site you want to search against rather than discover new sites?

Yes, that is also my observation. They will show content that completely does not contain your query words if that content is just popular enough. The result is that niche technical topics get drowned out by related popular discussions.

Also, I am by now 100% sure that Google has just stopped indexing the long tail. Like if I search for function names of public source code that I downloaded from GitHub, Google won't find it. But of course, it's still on GitHub.

Similarly, Google will sometimes not find a single result for some Windows API function names, despite them being publicly documented on docs.microsoft.com.

(same poster) BTW, amazon.com is in my opinion even more infuriating. I just searched for "Odense Marzipan" (which is a 100+ years old brand serving the royal danish court) and they show me pictures of gamepads made out of chocolate along with a note: Your search "odense marzipan" was automatically translated into "odicht marzipan".

Then searching for "odicht" out of curiousity, they auto-correct it to "olight". So I start with almond-based sugar sweets, follow their auto-correct twice and now I'm staring at headlamps. And even Google has no idea what "odicht" might have been, so I really wonder how Amazon decided to auto-correct from an existing product into a non-word.

Searching for "odense marzipan" including the quotes then works, but it yields the cringe-worthy message:

Your search ""odense marzipan"" was automatically translated into "„odense marzipan“".

(where the only difference between the first and the second thing is that they converted the ascii quotes to up and down sentence quotes)

Amazon also really seems to push what they _want_ to sell over what they have available.

A while back I spent a lot of time looking around for a basic SATA bluray drive on Amazon before finally giving up. All I could find was burners for several hundred dollars when I really just needed a drive to quickly rip a single disc I'd bought. I spent probably an hour scrolling through results and trying all sorts of variations on search strings.

I eventually gave up and punched it in Google to get... kicked back to Amazon to a simple, cheap SATA bluray drive that had been there all along.

>Amazon also really seems to push what they _want_ to sell over what they have available

This is exactly it. Amazon isn't a shopping site, they're a corporation using third party sellers to offload the risk and cost of providing a wide array of goods. They let customers experiment with product offerings, find products that sell using their web site, then cherry pick the most lucrative ones to produce and stock to compete with their own "customers".

They're not a service for anyone but themselves.

I almost always filter for items shipped from and sold by Amazon. The only times I buy from third-party sellers are when the seller is clearly the manufacturer or a large distributor.

Amazon's search engine was systematically destroyed from within starting 5 years ago. It's entirely driven by revenue now and not at all by their faux customer obsession tenet.

Just try searching for a high-end appliance and watch all the Chinese knockoffs that will get ranked higher than the actual thing you're looking to buy. Sure, they cost less, therefore you're more likely to buy something therefore such changes tend to win web labs and go into production. But they've completely destroyed the intent of the search doing so.

I just gave up on Amazon Spain about 2 years ago already. It's just completely impossible to filter and rank stuff properly, just loads of crap you don't want. I heard it's worse in Amazon US.

What I don't get about this companies (because this seems a problem shared between google, YT and Amazon) is when they optimize for clicks or whatever their KPI, what are they thinking is the outcome in the mid term?

I mean, IDK around you, but I'm the prosumer regular folks ask for recommendations. They may be safe for the time being but of course I'm going to contribute for their competitors getting klout.

I don't have an alternative for YT, but people watches me using DDG and whe they ask for recommendations for buying stuff I don't even bother with Amazon.

I'm not the type who pushes his decisions onto others, but I already got asked why I don't use google and amazon.

Amazon UK is mildly less crap than this.

I just tried using Amazon.com to order something to Hong Kong for Christmas - sweet Jesus I don't know why anyone would ever visit that site more than once. I ended up giving up and just ordering the things with the co.uk version and sending them myself.

They extra postage cost is nothing compared to the insanity of the .com site.

my favorite is when i see exactly what I want for a millisecond...

only to have it disappear somewhere to page 2 or 3 (if even!)

This seems like an opportunity to build a "better" search engine for Amazon and reap the affiliate revenue.

There's got to be a reason no-one (to my knowledge) has done this: They probably forbid affiliates from doing their own indexing and ranking. Does anyone know for sure?

> They probably forbid affiliates from doing their own indexing and ranking. Does anyone know for sure?

They do. I came across a reddit thread where a guy had built a simple php-based search indexer for Amazon and managed to pay for his college through it. After this incident they apparently put changed their developer terms of service!

Maybe I am looking upon the past with rose-colored glasses, but I recall a time when shopping on Amazon was like shopping at a huge Target. A lot of well-known name brands mixed with some no-name stuff. It was a nice relief from the limited selection, daytime hours, lines, and out-of-stock errors at department and big-box stores.

Now shopping on Amazon feels like shopping on eBay or Aliexpress with fast shipping. Everything name-brand could be counterfeit, and everything no-name is a complete gamble.

Amazon is absolutely terrible. Try this search, for example: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=A1990+trackpad+replacement

There is an actual product (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084GKQB9T) with all of my keywords in the title. I found it via a google search because I gave up scrolling through Amazon.

I actively avoid shopping Amazon where possible these days, just because it's such a trashy experience.

Just a theory, but "dense" in English translates to "dicht" in German.

Thanks for introducing me to Odense marzipan (I have a job in Aarhus!)

I very much get the feeling that amazon and eBay "Don't like" Denmark – the former redirects amazon.dk to amazon.de saying "we deliver!" and the latter doesn't exist (but it does wholly-own a local alternative). Going to Denmark always makes me aware of how good the local Danish things are, and how inflexible and annoying the "global" options usually are by comparison. Riding roughshod over the language is a good example of this.

Yeah, Amazon search results are often infuriating. Most searches are flooded with similar items that need better filters and some notes on product differentiation. Amazon feels like a bazaar set up inside a Walmart where everyone is yelling at you to buy from them and you don't really know what you're going to get. I know it's a hard problem, but I can often look at the results and imagine some easy UX improvements. Maybe they have higher priorities than helping me buy insulated pants.

I wish shopping for consumer goods was as nice as faceted search on Octopart or Digikey. It seems that even for Amazon-sold products, either the products don't have relevant data listed accurately and consistently, or the faceted search doesn't let you query it.

(And that leaves aside the issue of the product page of a really nice wastebasket I bought years ago being hijacked by a meat slicer.)

I just wish DigiKey let you filter by price, or even sort by price on mobile.

I've searched for a product with a unique name and Amazons can't find it. "Do you need help?" not even "I'm unable to find what you need". Nice.

The product is there. It works adding the company name.

Amazon.com search is probably the worst offender of all the awful search engines. You can spend hours trying to find something you know is on there.

Amazon search is horrendous garbage. I was trying to buy replacement ear tips for my earbuds. I knew exactly what to search for. Yet, Amazon search only returned the Large size and none of the others. (Clicking on the large listing only had the large size available. No drop down selection or anything) I go to Google and type in the same search and put Amazon in the search too. Immediately shows up as first result and I was able to buy them. I figured they were out of stock and that’s why I couldn’t get them. Nope - Amazon search is just that bad.

"We know what is best for you, consumer!"

well, this particular instance is amazon

It must be a recent thing as well as I recall being able to get good results from them last year at Xmas when I was searching for some science books for the kids. This year my searches got absolute garbage in return.

Google does a pretty good or better job of searching amazon.com than Amazon does, e.g. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22odense+marzipan%22+site%3...

Are others getting the same problem? I searched for "Odense Marzipan" on duckduckgo.com, google.com, amazon.com, and amazon.co.uk, and all of them return almond-based sugar sweets in the top links.

I'm getting lots of results on Amazon UK, and also Google Shopping. maybe try setting your delivery location?

Searching on amazon.com for Odense Marzipan works for me and is not automatically translated. No quotes needed.

> Also, I am by now 100% sure that Google has just stopped indexing the long tail.

Rather weird if true, but I can't really disagree with your observation. It seems like large parts of the web have disappeared in the last five to ten years.

Google do most likely index the sites, but their current algorithm just don't use them, because it as much a promotion algorithm at it is search.

I have a public repo on GitHub that just doesn't show up on Google.

Search for "github drv8830pico" - it's literally not in any results.

Haha I just tried and guess what? Your comment was the only result.

Ask HN: Has Google search become quantitatively worse? https://news.ycombinator.com › item 4 hours ago — But of course, it's still on GitHub. ... Search for "github drv8830pico" - it's literally not in any results.

DuckDuckGo works fine, though.

Yeah, this comment chain pretty sums up my experience. Google has become AltaVista.

AV respected your querries if I remember correctly.

And now thanks to you, google recommends me to look into DuckDuckGo for that search https://ibb.co/WKg4h6Z :D

Weird, is this it? https://github.com/WojTechnical/drv8830pico

Maybe there's no links to it from other places, or somewhere on github thats crawled / indexed frequently enough.

Considering this comment thread is seemingly quickly indexed, just posting this link might be enough!

Yep, that's it - and indeed, HN comment got indexed pretty much instantly by google, but for some reason that repo has been up for a few months and just doesn't show up at all(and it's not like google never shows any results from github either, so no idea what's going on - as someone else pointed out, it comes up first on DuckDuckGo just fine)

It seems like a lot of github.com pages were removed from google’s index about six months ago.

Actually, that might be because of their antispam filters. They were always fighting websites with countless subdirectories or subdomains, having completely wiped them off their SERPs in the past.

GitHub does fit the "huge website with lots of duplicate content" description very well.

Then again, Twitter seems to be doing fine. But I have a suspicion that they have some sort of agreement (and GitHub doesn't), because I have to regularly "report as spam" (note how that implies Google decides what's spam and what isn't) Twitter emails and they still pop up in the inbox after a while.

Maybe, but then you get all the GitHub issue clone sites and all the Stackoverflow clone sites showing up at the top of the results with the original no where to be seen.

It might be anti-spam, but how is it this shit?

I mean, that's probably true, I just made this repo specifically to help people who are looking to control a DRV8830 chip from the raspberry Pico, and I'm not sure how anyone is supposed to find it if there is no combination of "raspberry pi" and "DRV8830" that would get you to that repo on Google.

Well, ads and information are at direct competition, and we all know who's winning the battle. It seems Bing is better for most searches now, even technical ones because they seem to index more of github and stackoverflow than Google.

Man, ads really are the devil.

Yeah. Absolutely infuriating if you specifically use quotes and you get all sorts of dross not containing what you're looking for. Clearly they have figured out in some way that giving the end user what they want does not maximise income.

Google News too has become flaky. Often does not find stuff you know is there, or finds it one day, but not another. Hrmph.

I'm in a similar boat with the "Google Now" feed on Android. When I say "not interested", it fails to note that as expected, and I see the same news "story" pop up (usually different sites, but occasionally the exact same site!). It's likely related to the fact that it almost NEVER gets the subject/topic correct, so I can never use that option.

There was a time I thought I'd trained it to stop telling me about what celebrity said or wore what, but those are creeping back into my feed.

YouTube has started showing me the same videos over and over again! I keep telling it I don't want to see this content because I've seen it before and it keeps forgetting!

I absolutely hate the Google has changed the semantics of search so that it doesn't really pay attention to your keywords unless you quote them. In Google's mind you're not serious about a keyword until you quote it! Garbage!

Is there a market for a focused, specialized search engine, for example, relatively speaking -- google circa 2010 with all the specialized search operators etc... focused on technical content?

What does the business model look like? Ads (it would be in front of a very valuable audience of technical folks)? Or paid subscriptions (perhaps the community votes which resources get crawled / indexed)

Yes, I actually find Bing is now better for the long tail.

Most of my searches are for really old pages or really long tail stuff and Google just simply doesn't bubble them up, if it has them at all. I keep finding web sites lately from links on other sites and find myself asking "Why the fuck did Google not find this?" .. then I go back to Google and try to find it with keywords from the site, and nothing...

I also recommend switching to Bing. It shows me the results I'm looking for pretty consistently, whereas Google/Duck will sometimes give me Google's home page or the Washington Post's home page instead of anything even resembling the query I'm searching for.

Google definitely changed something about how they index or prioritize GitHub sometime in the last year. I used to frequently use Google to(successfully) find GitHub repos based. Lately, this does not work for me anymore; adding "GitHub" to my search query helps sometimes but I'm forced to search directly in GitHub many times.

You can test this- find a site you think is not indexed, search for the URL of Google, and then look at the cache and the date. I bet it’s been cached more recently than you expect.

The "people also searched for" box is not just useless, but also very much messing with usability for me. Every time I click on a link, go back, then trying to click on the next link, this box shows up and I accidentally click on that (because it shows up with a little delay and an animation).

This filter takes care of that box completely:

  www.google.com##[style="display: block; opacity: 1;"]
  www.google.com##[data-hveid]>div:style(height: auto !important)

I cannot stress enough how infuriating it is when a page loads content under my mouse cursor at such a delay that I can manage to point at a link and click on it _before_ the new content is loaded so that I click/tap an unexpected link.

This happens _all_ the time on the Twitter app search bar.

This is infuriating on all UIs, but I haven't seen one that would implement a very obvious solution: if the area around click has changed in 100ms before the event, disregard the click. Either a webpage or a browser could do that.

I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of it, so there must be some reason why it isn't done - does anyone know why?

> Either a webpage or a browser could do that.

The browser should do it. Websites often do this intentionally in order to trick users into clicking ads. The only way to stop these abuses is for the browser itself to stop enabling them.

Unfortunately Google would make the Gmail team very grumpy if they did this - Gmail's by far the worst offender in my experience. Every single time I open my email I have to remind myself to wait for a moment before clicking on my newest emails, because most of the time there's going to be a couple ad "emails" popping in and shuffling everything else down a few seconds after all the real emails have loaded.

Google's grumpiness is an excellent measure for how much we need a feature. The grumpier, the better. Other browsers should do it. Firefox, Safari, Brave, everyone else.

Maybe something that Firefox and Safari could implement then? :)

Great idea, although from an engineering POV I think this is really hard. Most websites are super JS-heavy and hence, from a browser's POV, change constantly. Quite a ton of difference between pixels on the screen changing and the underlying DOM changing.

FWIW, I've seen that suggestion a few times over the past 2--5 years or so.

You're likely not the first, but it's an excellent suggestion.

Yes, because it sux, in general. Maybe as an option.

If something changes within ~300ms before your click, the only way you'd be intentionally clicking whatever's there now is if you're amped up playing some online game

Now be my guest and define "something changes" please. You will see what I mean.

Gaming is exactly one of the problems and all those sites that lie on spectrum between news to gaming and utilize some aspect of dynamic presentation.

This is my normal android experience. Use the share function, it displays a list of apps or chat conversations which actually are relevant, tap the app.... annnnnnnd the list refreshes with a new list and congrats, it buffered the tap before the menu refreshes and opens whatever app is now under your finger which is of course the wrong app. So when I use share I have to wait a few seconds to ensure the menu is refreshed and then pick an app. This behavior is throughout most of the ecosystem where input is valid and buffered before things are rendered to screen. Such a well engineered UX.

Android STILL does this? Wow.

bad enough when it’s accidental, more infuriating when it’s done with a profit motive

theverge.com presents a “show comments” button that shifts out of the way to reveal the worthless taboola links, I honestly don’t know how it isn’t considered click fraud

Lazy loading is the absolute bane of usability in web UIs. The fact that this is the default/most common behavior in modern web frameworks seems simply idiotic to me.

>This happens _all_ the time on the Twitter app search bar.

Hit the nail on the head there my friend. Super annoying.

I wonder why their search is so slow though. Any ideas?

This is particularly hilarious and ironic when considering they are really punishing for cumulative layout shift in their Lighthouse tool - to prevent exactly what you are describing from happening! Seems like Google hasn't used lighthouse on their own site!

Because google doesn't need to worry about such things. For most people DDG would be a much better experience - if only they knew?

I'm using DDG for almost a year, and I'd say that DDG is slightly better because I have a bit more control. It's important when you're multilingual (common in Europe) to be able to de-localize results chose language etc.

But it isn't MUCH better. DDG is just slightly better than Google, that has become infuriating.

I use it regularly but it is getting to be unreliable for technical searches. I often have to resort to using google when trying to track down information about programming problems.

Agreed but when I say 'most people' I'm thinking of more mundane and everyday queries which DDG handles well enough.

> this box shows up and I accidentally click on that (because it shows up with a little delay and an animation)

And somewhere a team of designers and PMs got their bonus for increasing the engagement OKR. Clearly users love the animation and added delay because look at the metrics skyrocket!

Google now also has an extreme recency bias. Most things I search for will give top results for recent SEO optimized blog posts/Youtube videos instead of established authoritative resources. If you search for something that happens to overlap with a recent movie name, good luck, it'll drown. And I constantly "have" "to" "search" "like" "this" because Google thinks it knows better than me.

While I also am annoyed how much I need to enquoten to refine search, in most cases I wish it upped the bias further. My default search applies the 'Past year' filter because otherwise I get lots of outdated answers.

For some cases where I know that the recent results are going to be verbose spam, I set the filter to before:2015

I've also completely switched over to DDG and I'm seeing similar things that infuriate me about Google. Most of all the fact that ignores my "literal" searches using double quotes. The documentation [0] says

> Results for exact term [...]. If no results are found, we'll try to show related results.

But very regularly it fails to find results I know exist in not so unpopular places.

[0] https://help.duckduckgo.com/duckduckgo-help-pages/results/sy...

this always baffles me. If my search terms return zero hits, THAT is helpful and meaningful to know, when they change my search to enable hits, that isn't helpful, because it 99% of the time will not have the information I want, and frequently I won't know that they are ignoring search term, so I'll click through to half a dozen hits before I discover what theyve done. I got to the point that as soo as I clicked a link, the first thing I'd do on the landing page was command-f, and search for the most specific term in my google query. If it wasn't found, I'd instantly hit the back button and do the next hit.

This really got to me about 6 months ago, so I changed all my default searches on all my browsers and mobile to DDG, and haven't looked back. I tried DDG ~5 years ago, and there was no way it could have replaced google for me then, but when I did it 6 months ago, it didn't seem any worse, maybe a little better.


You'd think from the responses herein that using quotes was a panacea.

It isn't. I see what you see. I think it's ignoring the quotes.

I've thought about it and I think that the really infuriating thing is that somehow the program wrongly assumes that I made a typo, so it's wrong and telling me that I'm wrong. No! It's you!! You're wrong!!!

DDG is heading this wrong direction too. Today I've searched for some ecommerce platform called Comerzzia and it showed me some Comerzia or Comercia or whatever shops near me. It shows maps if it thinks they're related and apparently I can't disable that feature.

> The results keep getting "refined" so as to suit the popular 80% of queries, while getting much worse for any technical or obscure queries.

The fundamental, unavoidable problem is that the cost of providing high-quality results on the long-tail of possible searches tends to grow faster than the revenues that can be earned from those increasingly rare, obscure, long-tail searches. Any search service seeking to maximize profit, like Google or DDG, ultimately always evolves to perform less and less well on the long tail of possible searches.

The search service we all wish we could have -- a service seeking to maximize the quality of individual searches, no matter how obscure -- may not be feasible as a profit-maximizing business.

The fundamental, unavoidable problem is that the cost of providing high-quality results on the long-tail of possible searches tends to grow faster than the revenues that can be earned from those increasingly rare, obscure, long-tail searches.

I think even two years ago, Google searches had far more depth and yet Google was quite profitable (then the searches were still biased but now stuff is simply gone). Sure, if someone looked at the marginal profitability of every single search result, it would look like what we're seeing. But there was a time when good indexing of stuff that didn't turn a profit by itself was done as a service to attract people to Google and/or to improve the Internet generally. That time has passed, clearly but it was a decision.

I agree. In all likelihood, the decisions were made gradually to improve overall efficiency without losing search volume, but the unintended consequence was to degrade search quality, at first gradually in subtle ways, and then suddenly in very noticeable ways.[a] It's possible no one in the company's executive team has noticed the loss of quality. In fact, they may not think anything's wrong even now.

[a] I'm paraphrasing Ernest Hemingway: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/102579-how-did-you-go-bankr...

For what it’s worth, I have been using the new you.com headed by Richard Socher as my search engine for the last 2 weeks. The condensed search results with sections from reddit, wikipedia, stack overflow or arxiv is really great. It’s really suited for technical users.

you.com looks good. I am USA and English centric. I’m annoyed at the futility of google search for ordinary technical topics. Bing, duckduckgo are also more futile as time goes on.

What are the ways to direct more air into the likes of you.com? You.com was an “Show HN” topic 3 weeks ago[1]. The you.com improvement in 3 weeks is noticeable.

This post has been simplified for sentiment parsers...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29165601

I hadn't heard of that one before, but that's actually really nice. I really like how they're trying something new with the presentation and organizing the search hits by the source like that!

Thanks for this, it looks quite usable.

Specialised search engines are getting better. i use github search for code search, and sometimes stackoverflow search for technical questions.

i have a directory of duckduckgo !bang operators, for easy access https://mosermichael.github.io/duckduckbang/html/main.html

This helps to find the specialised search engine, if you need one. (it scans duckduckgo for any new !bang operators, in a nightly built, here is the script: https://github.com/mosermichael/duckduckbang )

I suspect, that most of these specialised search engines are powered by elasticsearch. It may be, that elastic is starting to cut into google search, from the low end.

Let's expand the scope too.

Try searching for any product outside your wheelhouse and it quickly devolves into an undergrad research endeavor.

I can't trust the first or second page results because of SEO. Then every page after quickly veers off topic or just features sites that aren't as good at SEO.

This combined with the fact that programmers have went from highly specific names like "winamp" to just capitalizing a random english word to name their tool makes it very hard to find relevant information.


I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but when I also look for technical stuff I see a lot of Stackoverflow copy-cats on the first page.

A lot of sites that just scrape github too end up high in the results. The actual github page isn't even on the first page if anywhere at all. The spam sites do a better job at crawling code than google does.

And a lot of them have stolen content from other sites.

> The results keep getting "refined" so as to suit the popular 80% of queries

Google is simply maximizing profits by giving users results that would cause either more clicks on ads or show more ads. It's mission is to make money this quarter/year. If you believe any of their Silicon Valley-style new age talking points you probably don't have critical thinking skills.

If their products are getting worse for you perhaps you are not part of a profitable segment for them.

Frankly, I mostly receive political articles and columns when asking for more more objective things.

I remember once searching for how common same-sex relationships among teenagers are in Japan, as some say it is very common, and all I received were political opinion pieces that did not in any way come with the numbers I sought on Google, so I then tried DuckDuckGo and to my amusement what I received with the same query was mostly pornography.

Neither particularly useful, but the contrast in how both prioritize was interesting to me.

What I'm wondering is if the efficiency of the spider itself has dropped. I've often hunted for an old Reddit post I once saw a long time ago and found no hits - maybe I got the wording wrong, but I suspect the real reason is that lower-popularity reddit content is simply not getting indexed at all. Or maybe it's the extreme recency bias others have discussed. Of course, I have no evidence because I can't find the thing that I can't find.

> hashbang

Maybe it's just me but those always seem vastly gratuitous. Like shouldn't the engine figure that out automatically? It's like half its job.

Most of the time they are nothing more than an site:xyz.com equivalent that is just easier to access and you can group them to say something like !dev and search hn, stackoverflow etc in one search without all the blog spam in between.

The engine should automatically detect that I want to be booted to a third-party site? Err, no. That would be infuriating behaviour if it happened without explicit instruction.

It should detect if a query is very likely to be something that appears on say stackoverflow and then offer it as a first search result.

Does doing the hashbangs actually throw you directly onto the site? I'd assumed it just restricted results to that site.

Shocking that tight emotional connection is more valuable to most people than throwing spaghetti at the wall.

It’s almost as if the government and big companies have spent a lot of effort understanding human biology, cognitive function and applying what was learned.

While selling the masses on a contrived story keeps them believing there’s a universe of infinite life available to humanity if you just follow these steps…

Things like human colonization of space, and political memes about wealth are taking advantage of the same biological quirks as religion. It’s just now we can quantify the effects rather than wave it off as mysticism.

But the human story is already set on a path of building a bridge to nowhere.

DDG works great for ~90% of my queries. I do fall back on Google every now and then, but DDG honestly delivers results that are just fine.

It's not even just dumbing down. It's heavily weighting to selling one or another thing. It's been getting worse for years but it's really degenerated in the last several months.

You can sort of fight it by including a term showing your topic in your search, I think.

I often see this line of thought come up whether topics like this float around and wonder: how can we demonstrate /quantify /prove this. Especially since I'm already partial to agreement.

by doing it better?

It feels like the algorithm (combined with the SEO/marketing industry) has effectively nuked discussions from organic results.

Based on the search box suggestions I get, it seems many people work around this by appending reddit to their searches. If I search for "warmest winter coat" it's a bunch of untrustworthy content marketing until you try something like "warmest winter coat reddit"

Unfortunately I prefer to avoid reddit (which also has a fair amount of astroturfing), but I haven't found a good alternative. I severely miss Google's old "discussions" (or was it forums?) filter.

What's kind of funny is there was a time where Google used to stand for --literally anything-- and would punish a site like reddit on search results for having such a user hostile interface.

For some reason though (probably because they used AMP) they basically allow them to do anything they want. Multiple popups, hijacking click events for login modals, and hiding the content with no impact to search results.

So now, in all the glory of the Internet, the person who genuinely wrote the best blog post on the "warmest winter coat" is completely unfindable on normal Google search or you force yourself via a reddit query to a completely hostile user experience unless you login.

It would be cool to just be able to do something like this "warmest winter coat --hobbyist-only".

GP was saying how reddit is actually more useful than whatever Google returns today: that's the "hobbyist-only" shortcut for today. Because that blog post is long gone from Google's indexes, since replaced with SEO-optimized or "influencer" driven sales/content marketing.

I like to compare with search.marginalia.nu results from time to time, but the restrictions it puts on the content it traverses do not make for a good daily driver.

We are saying the same thing. I reiterated it poorly.

Just also poking fun of how Google both killed the "real" blog industry and forced all the good content on reddit (which ironically does every anti-SEO thing ever and where people are trying to go).

Because most people who use Reddit on a semi-regular basis use their old desktop UI (old.reddit.com), which doesn’t have the dark patterns found on their newer / mobile site. It’s a much more usable site for the few communities I still have left on Reddit. It’s also much better supported by the individual subreddits via style sheets (most didn’t bother updating layouts when Reddit introduced a new UI because all the power users who would have updated them kept using the old interface).

GPT3 got your back:

warmest winter coat --hobbyist-only

Top 10: 1. Canada Goose Parka 2. Patagonia Down Jacket 3. Marmot Precip Jacket 4. Columbia Winter Jacket 5. North Face Thermoball Jacket 6. The North Face Nuptse Jacket 7. Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket 8. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket 9. Black Diamond Fineline Hoodie 10. Outdoor Research Cathode Hoody

That's actually hilarious - that list isn't bad!

How can you search with GTP3?

I suspect part of what is going on is that Google, and its employees, have forgot what Google was supposed to be. In some warped, misguided attempt to not be evil, they got confused and tried to be neutral.

Google should be opinionated. It should have a huge bias towards quality. It should not be hard for a small army of employees to be blackholing ANY crap product roundup site. Real product tests, where multiple items were actually purchased and compared, should always float to the top.

Just as much as needing to pay attention to what spam to suppress, they should be asking "what do we we want at the top" and whitelisting really great sources that always cut in front. Why should healthline ever appear before examine.com?

Instead, they have thrown their hands up, said the algorithm is in charge, and to interfere with it would be improper. Bollocks.

--hobbyist-only makes sense

when i search for something specific, i usually include a random niche tangental hyper specific keyword about the thing i want in quotes (until it gets turned into the SEO-buzzword of the day)

"impedance" for analog electronics stuff, "ring-spun" for clothes stuff, etc

This is a reply to myself... but does anyone have ideas about how this can go away? Have we lost the internet to eternal marketing and data-mining arms races? Is this why people are flocking to search-opaque places like Discord?

Sometimes I feel like that internet isn't for me anymore, and that's a little distressing.

The more I think about it the more I just don’t think it’s possible to have an internet that is supported by ad-revenue and isn’t user-hostile. The incentives are diametrically opposed.

We need a PBS/NPR of search engines.

I wonder if an argument could be made that this would actually pay for itself. Given that productive use of search is at odds with commercial use of search, maybe a publicly funded search engine could increase GWP by 0.01% which would be about $87B a year.

> We need a PBS/NPR of search engines.

PBS/NPR like solutions would be subject to co-opting forces as with other search engines. Look at wikipedia, touted as a “social good” but undermined by collective activism edits in the name of various ideologies claiming pure intentions of “social good”.

Yeah the internet has been turned into cable TV. You're paying for access, but the objective of 90% of the content is to get you to watch ads.

I think so, actually. New environments are refreshing until power structures form - and that's what happened with the internet.

But it is still not so dire. I went back to bookmarks, reading lists and keeping note of writers I check out. It's not bad at all as long as I keep in my interest bubble. Google or not, I still would prefer today's internet world to the decades before the internet.

We need a new protocol that will not allow that, such as gemini, which is not that good IMO and severely limited (you can't even add pics ffs).

And of course, new search engine, something distributed and in the GNU domain.

You can link to images in gemtext. It's up to the browser whether to display them inline.

Terrible UX. What if I just want to give links without wanting to have them as images?

Besides, all that can be done with img HTML tag (browsers do have 'disable images' thing already).

This is the consequence of arranging a society around infinite financial corporate growth; everything is optimized to squeeze out every dollar for the balance sheet.

Ironically we’re watching this play out now with products and techs that market themselves as “decentralized.” Maybe after this phase the tech community will consider this isn’t something we can tech our way out of.

No. It's Google squeezing money out of search to subsidize the CEO's flavor of the month money-losing AI project, that's what it is ... Ex-Search-Engineer

I think so too. Recent results are clearly ML garbage.

The reason Google isn't explaining it is because they can't explain it. They don't know why the ML is returning the results it's returning. And whatever it's doing in that black box, it's making gobs of money—Google's sole purpose since Ruth Porat started squeezing every dime out of every orifice–so just keep on keeping on.

Tech companies like G/FB don't have to care about infinite growth. It's nice to see your RSUs go up, but the shareholders don't have voting rights.

The Eternal September always wins.

I get it, I almost included eternal september in my own post, but this feels like a reductive way to overlook an actual problem.

Google actually found a result for Eternal September. Call me amazed! I didn't even have to use quotes.


profit optimized is the inevitable result of any system that has profit motivation

banning advertising would help for awhile, but other profit streams would be optimised and expand to fill void, such as data collection/mining

I have thought about one way of changing the rules: banning large compannies from showing ads. I am not sure I understand the fallout this would cause, but:

- ad revenue would drammatically decrease

- buying ads would actually be affordable by local sellers

- the market would self regulate against monopolies

If ads would be banned, data collection would be unprofitable.

It's already not that profitable. Twitter's ad targeting is useless and they have tons of data on you.

If surveillance capitalism is super-profitable, "making cell phones" capitalism must be even better since Apple is bigger than those companies.

Recently my Google suggested search completions has started suggesting that I add "reddit" to a lot of my searches.

I can only presume that so many people have given up on the web as indexed by Google and are just searching for "<whatever> reddit" now as the only way to get any kind of content written by real people on a subject instead of SEOd filler "content".

Presumably it won't be long before Reddit itself is flooded with spam content to take advantage of this - I'm sure it's already happening to high value keywords.

That's probably my default search query for now to avoid all the marketing crap. But if this becomes the norm we will definitely see robots discussing their winter coat preferences.

You already need to be a little careful. I can't remember the specific search where I ran into it... but if you follow some user accounts recommending a specific brand you'll find that they have very shallow post histories.

This happens on Amazon reviews all the time as well.

What I end up doing is trying to find a post that isn't all-in on any specific solution... but lists pros and cons of multiple options, because it seems less likely that a content advertiser will post anything negative (or positive about a competitor).

There's been a steady increase in astroturfing and blogspam over the years on reddit to subs like /r/frugalmalefashion where small indie shops are able to pump and dumb objectively low quality wares. The mod team does the best they can but they can only do so much as the effort to surface good content costs way more then the effort to artificially boost bad content.

In a few years Reddit will be just like the generic google searches for everything but the most heroicly moderated or obscurely small subreddits.

Sometimes it feels the less SEO-optimized content there is for a topic, the better the search results are. Privately I de-googled a while ago (exceptions are youtube and youtube music, but then I don't have spotify). Now using DDG, and I don't miss anything. Google is better for picture search by proposing similar ones when clicking on one.

I use the reddit suffix for topic expansion. It helps to observe people discussing a topic and discover its facets that way as opposed to potentially getting a one sided treatment in a reference starting point like wikipedia. After I get a lay of the land, that's when I start down Wikipedia sources.

When I searched it "warmest winter coats", I get:

first result is a list from a blog by some "Emergency prep guy" it basically lists 27 coats with information.

Second result is RT online with black Friday recommendations

Third is oprah daily with recommendations and shop links

So, reddit is also, as you said, full of false information + astroturfing as well. Besides not everyone is interested in diving into reddit rabbithole to find information on warm coats.

What do we want google to do? It tries to blend whatever is available, I don't think google got worse on this particularly, but it is probably a hopeless pursuit considering the status of the web. As for forums, adding "forum" at the end sees to work, but I agree it would be nice to have the option in the toolbox.

> first result is a list from a blog by some "Emergency prep guy" it basically lists 27 coats with information.

Most of the time, this is just a list of coats someone googled and copy-pasted info from the marketing pages. This page is an affiliate-marketing site masquerading as a review site.

Not sure if specifically that page is, but that's what the majority of "product review" results in Google are nowadays.

I know these review pages are usually affiliate links, but the problem is, when the subject is something like this (commercial interest), it is extremely hard to find anything that is objective.

Emergency prep guy seems like at least owns or knows about the products he lists, however he also discloses his site is owned by a company which is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

So maybe Google should stop feeding this affiliate spam loop and try to create algorithms that try to actually understand which information is based on personal experiences and not created by financial interest. This is a very hard task to do and also prone to manipulation as well. In the end maybe Google needs some real competition for this to happen.

> So maybe Google should stop feeding this affiliate spam loop and try to create algorithms that try to actually understand which information is based on personal experiences and not created by financial interest

As you say, this is harder to do well than it sounds. There are definitely a lot of hobbyist types who review things and make a side (or even major) income from affiliate sales. With human judgment, it's quite easy to differentiate the honest hobbyist from the spam sites. I fear that any automated attempt to punish the spam sites would end up hurting the hobbyists more.

I don't get the appending reddit thing. I don't see why reddit is considered trustworthy, marketers have been planting "organic discussion" on reddit for years.

Yeah, I can't confirm it, but the weirdest I think I've seen is in r/science about research that was funded by the meat industry saying that a diet with meat is healthier than vegetarianism or veganism.

The study was poorly done and there were tons of comments pushing the same message: "vegetarians/vegans are annoying hipsters who will lecture you for eating meat and they'll be so deservedly upset by this."

Found it and most of those comments are deleted now (https://redd.it/qskxol). Is the meat industry losing a sizable chunk of profits to more people swearing off meat for moral reasons, or ditching meat as a financial decision?

Edit: Threw that link into a website that restores deleted comments (https://www.reveddit.com/v/science/comments/qskxol/meat_cons...).

Mods deleted all references to fact that the study was funded by a beef company. Blatant corruption?

It's actually very common for subreddits to eventually get owned or controlled by the industry leaders and then begin censorship campaigns. One of the most blatant examples of this is /r/bitcoin where any discussion of alternative scaling strategies except 1MB blocks with Layer 2 on top will earn you a ban.

The /r/science mods are extremely strict and delete any subjective comments. Some of them like posting clickbait of their own though…

But our uncanny valley detector is pretty good at sensing it imo and the upvote system helps and authentic people will comment or disagree.

SEO blogs are full uncanny valley for me.

In my experience reddit comments are less likely to be marketing than Google results are. Still not entirely trustworthy, absolutely.

The trick is to find an active community where they know their stuff and will downvote/delete spam. Unfortunately those needs to be extremist for their hobby and so they will look down on perfectly fine for normal use low budget things.

I include 'forums' in my search, or something like 'site:coattalk.com' if I know of one

It's also funny how Google basically nuked groups and made it unsearchable, while once in a blue moon you get a search result to alt.coats.winter or something

Gotta use "site:reddit.com"

If I'm asking google or DDG for advice on a product, it's either going to be a reddit or Wirecutter for me. 99% of results on "best *" results in _*literally hundreds*_ of domains like "best*for2021.com" "buybest*.com" "top10*reviews.com" that are all generated by bots containing only the worst knockoff / counterfeit / Chinesium products and tons and tons of Amazon affiliate links.

E.g. I was trying to remember the name of a top-of-the-line soldering station brand (Metcal) I used back in college, so I kept trying permutations of "best professional soldering rework station" on google [0] and DDG [1]but it only comes up with low-end Chinese stations, a few mentions of Weller and Hakko, but no impartial reviewers, no forums or blogs, no discussions...nothing leading to Metcal.

Then I searched "best professional soldering rework station site:reddit.com" [2], I clocked the first 3 links, scrolled, and found Metcal on the second hit. [3]

I was surprised to see Wirecutter did a review [4], and arguably the Hakko FX-888D is the best soldering station ever made (and the X-Tronic is a fine budget runner-up) for *_MOST_* people, but it's still not a Metcal (the thermal capacity and regulation of their iron tips is just unparalleled even with nice Wellers and Hakkos - you can really feel the difference when working with THICC power ground planes and RF connectors).

[0] https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=best%20soldering%20rew...

[1] https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=best+soldering+rework+stati...

[2] https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=best+professional+soldering...

[3] https://www.reddit.com/r/electronics/comments/2c4hnl/best_so...

[4] https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-soldering-ir...

WireCutter has really gone downhill since they were bought out imo.

You can set that once on you.com and then it will keep that preference and show you reddit results whenever relevant.

The other thing I hate is the flood of reposts and blogspam around any announcement. Company 1 will give an interview to outlet A. Blogspam outlets B,C,D,E.... will publish "articles" that don't even link to the original but will highlight several out of context quotes, add minimal commentary that reads like it was generated by OpenAI, and hit publish. Then google appears to have a difficult time deciphering what the authoritative source should be.

Isn't this just a defect in the corpus? There is likely no quantitative, objective information about the warmth of winter coats in articles that would include the phrase "warmest winter coat" because someone who undertook an objective analysis would be uncomfortable using that phrase, which has no real meaning. With your refinement, adding "reddit" to the end of the search, you just get a bunch of randos holding forth unscientifically and no real information. You've just gratified some bias of yours.

On the other hand, a different search for "R-values of winter coats" produces a few real gems, like https://outdoorcrunch.com/jackets/

The first results used to be blog posts, forum discussions, etc... I'm not expecting scientific accuracy (it's a bonus if I find it)... I'm expecting personal investigations and opinions. I'm ok with that. I'm not ok with content marketing supplanting it. The entire front page of a search is often some "blogs" listing products with affiliate links and no actual experience. The information is outrageously shallow and the search results as listed try to hide this.

> "R-values of winter coats"

This is a valid alternative... but I don't want to be an expert on winter coats to be able to Google basic information. I'd have to weed through a fair amount of marketing content to even find that the phrase "r-value" exists. In the past this wasn't necessary.

The internet used to be primarily a place for people to connect and share information... and now it feels like primarily a place to be advertised to. There's also the fact that many ads have evolved beyond simple billboards to psychological manipulative clickbait.

It's completely anecdotal and tangential to this topic, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the way marketing manipulates people has created unhealthy amounts of skepticism that further fuels the affinity for conspiracy theories... which tend to be so toxic that they're almost inoculated from marketing.

Social media killed forums so there's no surprise that they don't surface in search results since they are no longer active. The discussions you're looking for are now happening pretty much exclusively on Facebook and Reddit and only Reddit is well indexed.

Sadly this no longer works either. Reddit is now doing some SEO work to mark stuff as a later date than posted.

You can search "warmest winter coat site:reddit.com" and filter by past year, only to get a result from 7 years ago.

I really don't know how to search the web anymore.

Damn I have been doing this exact thing to get "more organic" results in recent months and didn't even think about it, but it's pretty obvious now that there has been some major exclusion when it comes to results.

"Thread" is a good keyword to include to find discussions, even though it's a bit overloaded.


'good cheap mountain bike' -> 10 results out of the first 10 are commercial spam and listicles.

'thread good cheap mountain bike' -> 5 human discussions on entry-level MBs, 1 link to a MB forum home page (not a specific thread), 2 commercial spam, 1 paywalled magazine article testing MBs, and 1 online shop product page for a MB that happened to mention a "73mm Threaded BB shell" multiple times.

Until the spammers figure that one out. It would be nice if google had a keyword for this.

Like discussion? https://www.ghacks.net/2014/01/23/search-discussions-blogs-p...

I don't use them enough, but the replacements are interesting: they seem to mostly search for indicators of a forum (e.g the existence of a next page button).

I also use "forum" to skip the link farms and content farms that Google so often serves up.

> It feels like the algorithm (combined with the SEO/marketing industry) has effectively nuked discussions from organic results.

This always gets brought up but the problem is far deeper:

When I search for:

> "weirdly specific ab345"

and the results contains thousands of pages without "weirdly specific ab34" then the problem isn't spam sites.

It is Google not respecting my queries.

Specifically for search, my experience today when I search something on google:

- captcha (because vpn)

- spam results (based on location, my location was never very good for technical content)

- paywalls

- no pictures cause photos is now paid (i've signed up for unlimited forever)

And on bing basically I get shopping coupons, games and, well, and microsoft's "anything's valid, except customer sat" approach.

For me, Discord is the new reddit.

When I want information about a product, I join the discord forum associated with that hobby and I ask for recommendations.

Since Discord is a chat service like IRC, I get replies from humans instead of shady astro-turfed websites.

This is a decent solution, but not at scale. A big reason to even have all previous discussion archived is searchability and information availability. If the question has been answered it shouldn't be hard to find it. Having to have a human do the work of explaining something every time someone on the internet wonders about it is infeasible.

How often is information like: "What is the best quality X for this price point" evergreen to the point it is even worth writing down?

And the entire point of the discussion is that astro-turfing has papered over everything useful on the internet in order to sell low-quality crap.

The fact it doesn't scale is exactly why I use this method. Nobody is paying people to sit in a discord chat and recommend fishing poles. I know the information I am getting is from an enthusiast, if not a professional.

Yeah, the astroturfing is a huge problem. The entire internet has become a way for people to ruthlessly compete for your attention, it's like pulling up to a used car lot every time you try to find information.

What is needed is a way to archive actual useful information for lookup later.

There's a whole class of searches that no longer have value because of SEO. Try "best exercise bike" or anything that can be similarly monetized and you will of course end up at a well-crafted page designed to monetize you.

My deepest apologies for saying this, but for any type of query that has a monetization angle, I now add "site:www.reddit.com" to the query to find actual discussion about it.

Normal Reddit disclaimers apply as much of what you find is garbage but at least if you search "best exercise bike" confined to reddit you'll get real opinion not hellbent on monetizing you.

It's staggering how much the results for any product query that isn't from Reddit or a site like Wirecutter is just unusable. I was recently looking for thin winter gloves and literally every page was an SEO referral scam.

Yeah, it's been happening for so long that it's easy to forget it wasn't always this way.

I really don't get what people are talking about, first three results for best exercise bikes:

https://www.tomsguide.com/best-picks/best-exercise-bikes https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/best-exercise-bikes-40742... https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/g23064646/best-exercise-b...

Not sure if they are amazing results but it's decent for such a generic query.

These are all monetized results. Brands send bikes to these places to review. It's an advertisement. If you want an organic result like a personal blog post from someone or a niche interest forum like you might have found on google search 15 years ago or so, it's just not really there. Everything you see has been paid for to be seen by you. Once you realize that, a lot of the web feel like this uncanny potemkin internet because that's all it really is these days.

You're not going to find people doing unpaid work reviewing the best exercise bikes, or other expensive items. Very few people can afford to go out and buy 10-20 exercise bikes, and fewer still people can afford to do so every time a new bike is released. And yet fewer will then go and write up their experiences and keep their list updated over time.

For stuff like this you will only get spec comparison articles or comparison articles from big sites who get gear sent to them or make so much from affiliate sales that they can afford to rent/buy gear. It's simply not likely for anyone to put so much time and effort into it for a passion project.

However, where you can still find independent reviews is if you look up a specific item. Granted, they may still put an affiliate link in, because why not try to make some money when you've put in the work of making a good review, but at least they'll have bought the gear themselves and are using it because it's what they like best, and can speak to the pros and cons of the equipment in detail.

So the big lists are still useful - check out a couple "top 10" lists, read the specs, and get an idea of what's suitable. Then look up the promising candidates individually, and find more "real" content about them. I find this usually gives results which are better than just reading Reddit discussions, at least for higher value items.

it doesn't have to be a single person that reviews all bikes. We can crowdsource this a la IMDb. But it does seem like a myth that there was ever, in history, a good way to answer the question of "best exercise bike". Google's current inability to answer the question isn't new.

The challenge with that is avoiding companies manipulating results. IMDB works reasonably well with thousands of people going on and rating any given movie - it's harder for a company to mess with those ratings because they'd need a lot of accounts. Plus there's no real incentive to - people don't just go and watch the highest rated movie, they watch multiple movies and often don't even care about the ratings if it has an actor they like or is in their favourite genre or whatever.

With something like exercise bikes, the calculus changes. You're going to have much fewer ratings, and people tend to only buy one bike every 10+ years, and they'll want to buy the best one they can afford. Now there's a real incentive for a company to manipulate the ratings, and it's also much easier to do so.

I totally agree though that the current inability to answer the question isn't new. And I don't think that will change - I don't really see a viable alternative to the current situation. But if someone comes up with one then I'll be very excited to see it, as the current approach of using lists from big sites to go find higher-quality reviews from smaller sites is not the most efficient. But maybe that's not the worst thing - I like that there's still value to small independent reviewers.

> Google's current inability to answer the question isn't new.

IMO this is true.

It used to be however that the search results contained the phrase you looked for. This was later I think revised to also include pages that had links with the text in question pointing to them.

This kind of made sense for some queries (opinion based?), but for other queries (looking for technical content) it is actively harmful as it drowns out every useful site.

Four years old now, but here's a good long read on how an entire industry's review sites may be acquired or strongarmed into being invisible shills: https://www.fastcompany.com/3065928/sleepopolis-casper-blogg...

Yeah if you ask a real person with experience they'd probably say check used sites like ebay or gumtree as people buy the machines, get bored, use them as coat racks for a couple of years and then sell them second hand for 10% of the new price.

Oh yeah, and that's why a handful of subreddits are still good resources. You go in and ask "what's the best exercise bike" and the top comment will say "just buy used locally."

You know, I cleaned out my grandparent's old house recently and came across a Schwin exercise bike from probably the 70's. It has some sort of speedometer/dynomometer thing, a resistance adjustment, and a mechanical timer. You know what? I got up on it and went for 10 minutes and my heart was beating faster and my legs felt like they were getting a workout. What more do you need in a bike? Especially now - I had my phone to listen to a podcast and watch to monitor heartrate if I'd like - what else does a bike need to do?

Phone home what your heart rate was, what you smell like, and how old you were when your first born was conceived.

>what else does a bike need to do?

I feel like this exact question was asked in a meeting then peloton appeared. It turns out a bike also needs to have an ipad strapped to the front with a fitness instructor reading your name off a list of connected users and offering personalized praise. That'll be $1500 up front then $40 a month please.

I slightly worry when I have some product I rely on in my daily life that just does its job well. How long until the corporate race to the bottom hits this industry too?

I use this so often that I have it bound to a keyboard text replacement on all my devices. Recently Google has started inserting non-reddit posts to the top of my results even when I include this. Weirdly I’d be less upset if they were ads, but they aren’t. Just some articles that Google thought I wanted to see more than the website I specified.

It’s infuriating.

Do you know what infuriates me most about this? It's that Google hasn't addressed it when it's clear as fucking day that their search results have gone in the tank.

But now that I've typed that, I can see exactly why they haven't responded: a search company telling the world that its search results are f**ed. That would do wonders for the stock

if they are so bad, why competitors don't get a bigger market share? And if you think there are no competitors, you should know that there are bing, duckduckgo, that are basically the same engine and foreign search engines that successfully compete with Google is their domestic markets(yandex in Russia, Baidu in China and a few less successful others) all of them would be able to get at least some US market share in case google slipped

> if they are so bad, why competitors don't get a bigger market share?

Two things:

1. https://duckduckgo.com/traffic DDG has seen exponential adoption(yes actually mathematical exponential it seems) until last year. Now its traffic just increases at steady rate that most growth hackers would envy.

2. this happens despite their search results being just as bad as Googles: they (pr probably Bing) also sends me tons of completely irrelevant results because they ignore what I write in favour of what they think I write or want me to search for.

DuckDuckGo.com is my go to not because it is better but because:

- it is equally good now

- moving from DDG to Google is faster (just add !g)

- they don't have a history of showing me irrelevant and insulting ads.

I find their results to be better than Google’s. With google, you need to scroll past ads, then the garbage they pull from RDF triples (the boxes with facts, logos, etc), related searches, news, etc, etc and then you get the results.

With Duck Duck Go, there’s much less stuff to scroll past to get the results.

Test query: Samsung Galaxy

Google has 3.5 cell phone screens of header to scroll through. DDG has two screens, then the results, then the remaining screen or so of stuff google jams in the header.

This is much better.

For instance, the list of suggested searches is after the search results. Why does Google think I want to refine my search or switch to a different Google product before I read the results my first attempt at searching yielded?!? Do search logs show that most searches are from people that are typing things they don’t care about into the incorrect website?

Ignoring that, let’s quantify the results by position on the page. DDG has the top result in position 4 (samsung) or 6 (wikipedia).

Google has the first two hits at positions 16 and 27. (And stutters a lot of similar looking Samsung pages for some reason.)

I’m counting horizontal rows of content, skipping headers and columns of additional content.

(Edit: typos)

That's a fair characterization. I think DDG is almost the nostalgia play. What's the David Byrne lyric? You got what you wanted, but you lost what you had.

> I think DDG is almost the nostalgia play.

Good point. Also their main focus seems to be privacy, not quality.

The privacy problems of Google just recently (i.e. last 5 years) started to bother me, their complete inability to fix their broken search operators has bothered me for a decade.

My guess is if DDG provided the same quality as the old Google instead of just this nostalgia play it could possibly rise even faster.

Most of those "real opinions" are not real opinions.

I've been on both sides of paid reviews on Reddit.

I still do the same thing because in some subs you'll get actual conversation in the comments, but it's definitely being manipulated.

You mean you've been paid to put fake comments about products on Reddit?

There was a very good thread on HN about this not long ago(1). Google search is getting worse because it is letting companies like Pinterest game it.

Instead of fixing the spam they are instead encouraging companies to spend more and more time on SEO and coming up with their own shenanigans like better ranking for using AMP (defunct now).

People who generally make great content (think a researcher or a great software maker) can't compete with billion dollar companies like Canva, Shutterstock and Pinterest who spend millions of dollars on SEO and have dedicated SEO employees who spend all day sending outreach emails and doing experiments. Henceforth the good content never even sees the light of the day; drowned by all this "SEO" optimized content.

FWIW i still believe it's the job of the search engine to find great relevant content and show it to the user instead of the other way round. Though I know it's much easier said than done.

(1) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25538586

It's not even just gaming or priority. As others mention, it just straight up ignores substantial search terms or interprets them only to sell mainstream crap. It will return nothing rather than obscure terms that are present on the web.

The rest of you guys are too young to remember but I remember something called yellow pages and white pages. Google has certainly forgotten. White pages Were a search index that could never be monetized in the phone book! Google offers only yellow pages!


I do not think this is true, some businesses got special stuff in the white pages.

In the pages you linked, they’ve mixed businesses and personal lines, and bolded the business lines. In some states, there was a separate section in the back (On blue pages? Wasn’t there a red section too?) with just the business listings. Still, not a big deal either way.

Even with the yellow pages, listings were alphabetical, and grouped by business type, and businesses could pay for bigger listings. I’d forgotten how information dense listings used to be (probably due to lack of filtering, but it still makes me want yelp to do better)


I don't understand this narrative that Google is making the search results get worse or "letting" companies game it. Search result ranking is adversarial! If the results are worse than they once were, that just means that Google is less far ahead in the arms race than they used to be

An alternative explanation is that Google stopped caring about UX.

A doodle a day, is the UX way.

I think this summarizes the argument that Google search is imploding:

- Many of the problems are self-inflicted (dropping search terms, pages of other stuff before first link).

- They’re getting worse faster than their competition.

- Google apparently helped at least one external SEO team game image search into relevance-oblivion.

(Also, “narrative” usually implies “fiction” or “concerted disinformation campaign”, and is either used as a weasel word by liars referring to their own writing/reporting, or it’s used as a pejorative. I don’t think you meant to imply either.)

> AMP (defunct now)

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