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The + operator has been replaced. (google.com)
261 points by hammock on Oct 21, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 165 comments

So now you need to "quote" "every" "word" "you" "are" "searching" "for" - how crazy is this?

What is even worse than this - and this is pretty bad already - is that terms are no longer included by default.

Google will leave out terms you are searching for, if it so chooses, unless you purposely put the plus (or now quotes).

The engineers are not in control, it's pretty darn obvious.

added: Doesn't the use of quotes prevent stemming? Didn't plus allow stemming?

> The engineers are not in control, it's pretty darn obvious.

As a software engineer, I take offense at that. This is precisely the right decision to make if you observe that this is how your customers are using your product. You don't need a product guy to tell you that.

So what is the logical opposite of using a minus to remove terms? Quotes?

This is what customers remember and do? I highly doubt that.

Or are they trying to reserve the plus now for another feature in the future?

Remember, on Google +, you don't mention @somebody, you mention +somebody. I'm sure they're going to reuse + so you can search for +somebody.

This is stupid on Google's part. People are used to mentioning others via "@" (unless, maybe, Twitter has copyrighted/patented this). Forcing people to use "+" will just make adoption of G+ harder. Google should remember that they're the underdog here, playing catchup to Twitter and FB. Raising the barrier to entry only hurts them.

people have been using @ to mention others since pretty much the beginnings of online discussion, way before facebook and twitter (I'm agreeing with you - this is a stupid move by Google and goes against 15+ years of convention)

Just because something has always been done one way doesnt mean it always has to be done that way.

I think that, while nerds are used to mentioning others via @, regular people are used to putting @ in email addresses. Frankly, I find this change frustrating (for the reason that " is not the opposite of -) but I don't believe regular people are going to have any more difficulty with +Adam than they did with @Adam.

If you type @<name> it gets converted into +<name>.

I agree with the implication of your last question. It would certainly make sense for google to integrate Google Plus directly into their core product. I haven't thought of an exact path this would take, but if you're branding an operator, brand it everywhere.

> but if you're branding an operator, brand it everywhere.

And this behavior is what provoked the statement that the engineers are no longer in control- branding trumping usability.

But, consistency is an important part of usability.

Consistency cuts both ways. There is the branding consistency of the + symbol, and then there is the consistency of how + worked for searches last week vs. this week. My vote is that consistency in usage trumps consistency in branding.

Google+ probably gets much more usage than the + search operator. I'm sad that that part is becoming harder, but if they have a use for + that's integral for a future piece that relates to Google+, the needs of the many and all that.

I just tried Bing, + works on there it seems.

I can't believe it's been almost 10 years of using Google. Default search changed to Bing on all Laptops. I'm done. Fuck Google.

Have you tried DDG? http://duckduckgo.com/about.html

I wonder how ignoring + in all of the millions of existing search links on the internet affects Google's ad revenue...

I put together http://finderr.org and use that as a search service exactly because of this. I don't keep IPs in the logs of the server.

Cool, was about to put something together just like this, but don't have to now. Just submitted it here on HN.

I'm glad someone finds it helpful! I used web.py, by the way.

I'm not sure how to go about the log configuration. If the users prefer it I can just disable logging altogether, although I'd prefer keeping some information (not IPs) at least for a single day so I can get basic usage statistics. I promise not to do anything evil with the little information I may get in any case.

Can be handy, thanks for this, but some chrome extension/firefox add-on/etc. would be possibly better (haven't searched for such actually, strange, I should or even write such!).

Also: don't only promise! Put privacy page right there and explain what you explained here (maybe even in greater details, people love transparency), so every user we'll be able to obtain same information.

I did just that, thanks for the input. I actually went ahead and discarded the actual query strings being used; so I'm now logging access times, referrers and user agents only.

I agree that an extension may be better, although this may come handy when you're not using your computer or main browser.

This is the reason I stopped using Altavista and began using Google. I will now move away from Google, this is the last straw.

The problem is that despite this, the alternatives are all terrible. Once Google started ignoring random words a while back, I tried first DuckDuckGo, but their index is still quite small and my first query returned a single, unrelated result. Then I tried Bing and the results just aren't as good. I keep finding myself going back to google manually despite having Chrome set to use Bing by default...

DuckDuckGo uses Bing for search results. I use it whenever I can, but you can add a !g before your query to search Google instead, if the results aren't great.

I'd highly recommend Blekko. It is by far the best alternative out there and they support tons of ways to get exactly what you need.

Additionally, they run their own crawler so it's not just rehashing Bing results, etc.

Give DuckDuckGo a try then... I'm pleased with it.

You can simply prepend [[allintext:]]. That way you won't be infantilized and it won't search for synonyms. Compare these two searches: [[job steve opple]] vs. [[allintext:job steve opple]]. However, it's no panacea: the results for Dylan16807's example - [[allintext:"everything wrong" crossfade]] - still show everything's wrong.

You can append &nfpr=1 to the query string to make it more strict. That's what http://finderr.org does.

Do you have some example queries where this was necessary? I can make sure they get looked at.

I take it you work for Google.

I have the impression that Google likes to collect data. If you are indeed interested in fixing the recent quality dip of your search product, example queries where plus (now quotes) are necessary can be automatically collected by inspecting all searches where quotes are included.

If these are too many, filter by those that had a recent similar search without quotes. I doubt this is necessary, though. Who puts quotes in their search string the first time?

If I worked at Google, I'd be interested in the growth of use of the plus-operator lately. It has become a necessity for nearly all technical searches I do. Make a chart of it. Show it to the people in charge of this recent trend. Google search has seriously gotten worse. Forcing quotes instead of plus highlights this problem because it's twice the work.

We've looked at data like this. I'm trying to get examples from the community to supplement it. Looking at aggregate statistics isn't a great way to measure what's bothering power users.

I've saved a few searches where autocorrect gets too aggressive. I've run in to more than this but I don't save all since usually I just want results for my search immediately and don't feel like recording them:

I needed `+pyinotify` on this one to get the results I requested. I've come across this problem with quite a few other python packages but I can't recall them at the moment.:

    Search:  pyinotify thread
    Result:  Aggressive correction; wrong
    `Showing results for inotify thread. Search instead for pyinotify thread`

This one isn't exactly related but automatically changing negated terms is frustrating:

    Search:  win 7 processor not +downclocking -gpu
    Result:  bad autocorrect
    Showing results for win 7 processor not +downclocking -cpu.
    Search instead for win 7 processor not +downclocking -gpu.

Ok. Got it.

An example for you: "libtelldus no symbols" gives me three absolutely unrelated results for my top hits, confusing me enough not to register the following five related hits.

Here are two examples I ran into:

- "isomac logo kerning" (w/o quotes). I wanted to know if someone had specifically written about the kerning of the logo for the company ISOMAC (it's horrible, by the way). I got a very general search for "logo kerning" instead -- I had to put "isomac" in quotes.

- "hvordan bli kvitt olje" (w/o quotes, in Norwegian). The three first words are "how to get rid of" and the last one is "oil". Again, I got a very general search for how to get rid of stuff -- oil was omitted. (I rarely search in Norwegian, so this isn't a big one, but it shows the same pattern)


Here's an example I just ran into:

I want to search for Ubuntu's go-compiler package.

But if I search for "go-compiler" (with or without quotes) I get a bunch of hits for "Go compiler", with my dash turned into a space. That's a bunch of hits I don't want, and now I have to go wading. None of the top 10 hits are about what I asked for.

To me, the + operator meant "I know what I'm doing and please turn off the fuzzy help".

So how does one turn off fuzzy searching now?

intext:go-compiler does not help.

Dammit, sometimes dashes have meaning.

That isn't something new. Punctuation had always been ignored, + operator or not. (With some few exceptions like C++.)

I guess it's a job for a browser extension now to include all search keywords in double quotes. Will that stop this madness? Between Google Instant and this, I wish Google rolled back to an earlier version(excepting things like the Panda update which reduced spam results).

That's sad, as Google's "smart" broad interpretation of keywords makes it worse and worse for very technical queries.

Quite often I have to prefix every term with +. Quote-based syntax doubles annoyance of this pointless task.


Also, I know from considerable experience that the plus operator had a distinct meaning from the quotes operator so this change definitely implies that Google queries will be less fine-grained no matter what quotes means now.

Yes, Google is worse and worse for anything technical.

Alternatives anyone?

DuckDuckGo, (http://duckduckgo.com/) especially with the !bang syntax.

Not an alternative, but BlindSearch (http://blindsearch.fejus.com/) is interesting.

If you want something more fine-grained, blekko claims to filter results by category. e.g. "select /programming" https://blekko.com/ws/select+/programming will return results for "select" in the "programming" category.

bing, perhaps?

I intend to give it a shot. Seems there's some reasonably powerful query syntax: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff795667.aspx.

My complaint about Bing for technical querying is that when I tell them I want an exact phrase by wrapping it with quotes, it doesn't always believe me that I really do want that phrase to appear in the result page.

Some of those other operators look promising, though. I'll have to try them out.

The "near:" operator looks very useful.


Bing, DDG and Blekko IMO; naturally Bing have the largest index of the 3.

Someone needs to write a Firefox Add-on that automatically quotes your Google search terms (unless you are quoting a phrase).

Here's a Greasemonkey script: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/116080

It doesn't work with Google Instant enabled.

May need improvements!

That's ok, you can still use Google code search...oh wait.

+1000 XD

Exactly - the results for most things are fine, but when it comes to searching for some technical topics, I have to look 5 pages further to find something useful (and I'm not even talking about the age of a lot of first page results - that can fortunately be filtered).

For programming questions I lately find myself getting better results with StackOverflow's built in search than with google.

I think it works that way now. Can you find a search where e.g. "selection" returns results for "select" instead?

Google still interprets your words to an extent. The standby test search I use, [["everything wrong" crossfade]], still mutates [[everything]] into [[everything's]].

Seriously, I was wondering today whether I should ask HN what you think about these google smart inflection and alleged misspelling detection.

I am so tired of this. I do mistakes (after all errare humanum est), but I do it rarely, yet I am enforced to use quotes practically all the time (I am doing it since many months at least, don't remember exact moment, but I think in 2010 there wasn't automatic I-know-better, but only suggestions, correct me if I'm wrong, please). It's such a PITA. Is there maybe some secret search switch that can be used (and turned on in Chrome by default hopefully) to allow me avoiding typing quotation marks (") more than many hundreds times a day. And I still unconsciously always write without them for the first time, and, surprisingly, sometimes get correct results when the terms are ultimately known by everyone.

Before Google only suggested what I am possibly searching for. Why it is so sure now (i.e. this year) to make my original queries second-class citizens? Unbelievable and abominable poise.

> alleged misspelling detection

I agree, it is incredibly annoying.

I touch type and I know how to spell.

I rarely make typing mistakes, and when I do make a typing mistake, I see and notice it because i'm staring at the freaking screen.

(Conversely, when I don't make a typing mistake, and Google randomly changes my search, I don't notice, because I didn't do anything).

Particularly when you are searching for something and google changes it to an off by one that looks similar. For example, today i was trying to find libbcrypt, but Google kept changing the result to libgcrypt, which is not what I wanted, but they look similar enough that I clicked through some irrelevant results before I noticed.

Searches that would have taken one attempt, if Google had done what I told it to, now regularly take at least 2 searches.

I absolutely hate that.

Google needs to introduce a www.google.com/adv interface that doesn't respond, "I think you meant salt water, Dave," when you query for [sat water].

I just noticed today that my searches for "ipadm" return something relevant, rather than assuming that I meant "ipad", and forcing me to confirm that I did actually mean what I typed, which I think was the case just a couple of days ago.

I'm getting suggestions over my original queries definitely for some time already, as I stated earlier. Maybe it's because I am constatly logged in, and this new "great feature" was postponed for general use, i.e. all users. There were cases of such incrementally introduced features before.

Okay, perhaps this is easily explained, but I am baffled.

When you search google for a small phrase, for example, oauth authorization:

search query: oauth authorization About 525,000 results

search query: oauth "authorization" About 1,470,000 results

How does the result not only increase, but increase nearly three-fold?

I've always thought the quotes were meant to be more exact. For example, if you search for Web Design without the quotes, you will find results including web design and website design, but if you search for "Web Design" with the quotes, you will not find the entries that say "Website Design" so that reflects less results than the latter. So why am I seeing this oddity, does it make sense to anyone else?

The number of results reported is just a half-assed guess. The server which got the search term calculates it by looking at what fraction of documents matched, what is the total index size, etc.

Usually, the search phrase is hashed and the phrase sent to a backend server based on the hash. So 'oauth authorization' and 'oauth "authorization"' hash differently and get sent to different backend servers. These two calculate the 'number of results' figure differently, and hence you get the difference.

That is my guess at how you're seeing these numbers; I don't work for Google (but have some knowledge of another search engine).

The number of search results figures shown by google are not at all accurate.

Maybe they should "replace" those figures with a search composition figure that denotes how close the results are to the search terms, in the case where Google returns related-type results when it can't find exact matches. Green/yellow/red type stuff.


Sorry, double quotes don't mean what they used to. We'll need to come up with something else for that.


That is strange. Perhaps when searching "oauth" "authorization" it is increasing the distance allowed between the words available for search.

At least "oauth authorization" seems to behave more normal.

It's not clear that it still works, but there's also the AROUND(n) operator.

  oauth AROUND(3) authorization
would reduce the set to results that include "oauth" and "authorization", in any order, separated at most by three words.

That would be amazing!

Where do you find the fnlist + manpage? Is it possible to search for "foo <at most 3 words> bar"? Aka "around(3), but order matters".

oauth authorization looks for that - oauth authorization - in the page.

oauth "authorization" looks for oauth, with "authorization" nearby, in the page.

So you will get more hits for the latter.

I'm guessing w/in a few months Google launches a G+ integration with search that lets you reference your contacts in search queries using the + operator.

Personally I'm waiting for the "Sorry, you cannot currently search with us as you aren't logged into Google+" message.

(Am obviously joking, but I agree with your sentiment that G+ integration does seem to be... going quickly; I can understand why from a business POV though)

Quickly, yes. But I can't see why they took out this functionality before they were launching the new functionality.

It seems that this is just inviting ill will for no reason. At least if they did both at the same time, they would be able to say "But we did this other new thing instead! Isn't it neat?!"

I think this is precisely the reason. +Name is already used as a form of reference in Google+ analogously to @handle in Twitter.

Maybe it's for a minimum number of Google +1 actions.

Is there an operator for "must occur"? Embarrassingly, I've always thought + was used for that (and quotes for exact phrases).

It seems like recently Google has started to return more results which don't include some of my search terms. It gets really frustrating when trying to track down error messages.

The plus sign definitely was used for that.

It's double quotes.

Doing this correctly was Google's USP. Right in the early days, when Altavista had default-OR searching, searchers did "x AND y" almost as a tic. When you did that in Google, it boasted "Google searches for all terms by default. No need for And!"

People switched on the strength of that alone. Now they've gone to this deeply frustrating method of ignoring hard-to-find words in queries, and compounded it by making your actual search even harder to carry out. For marketing reasons. Brilliant.

It's funny because in natural language, double quotation marks mean anything but the exact, literal sense of the word. Sometimes they are used to convey the exact opposite of the word between quotes: Yes, Robert Ford, you were so "brave" when you shot Jesse James.

Sarcasm is a new use. The original use is tied to the name, quoting what was said or written before.

Informative comment, i.e. not really a response. For those who don't know correct term yet (I didn't up to 2 years ago).

Florin_Andrei refers to so called scare quotes. Wikipedia explains them as follows:

"Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to indicate that it does not signify its literal or conventional meaning."

Raphael is obviously right here (but mind that sarcasm is only one of scare quotes examples). Let me quote (w/o scare) Wikipedia again:

"Use of the term "scare quotes" appears to have arisen at some point during the first half of the 20th century. Occurrence of the term in academic literature appears as early as the 1950s."

It's only about academic existence, but even considering real existence, it won't be much earlier.


I stumbled on this earlier. I happen to use this operator a lot, so I will definitely miss it. I wonder why it was removed. For example, when you absolutely want to filter out a certain programming language from the others when they all use the same keyword, what would you use instead? Their recommendation to use quotes is not applicable in that scenario. Disappointing move overall.

Well, they haven't released their information deletion app, Google-, yet.

For a long time I've been getting increasingly annoyed with Google's "intelligence" not respecting my searches and modifying them into what they think I'm looking for. So far I've been too lazy to switch, but this does it.

For the first time since switching from Alta Vista to Google, I'm going to change search engines. Google has jumped the shark for me.

This really leads me to believe that the market is ripe for a "technical" search engine, which can do sophisticated queries of semi-structured data.

I could see such an engine having both a human readable output and a json output, suitable for chaining into some other analysis pipeline.

Not sure exactly what you're describing, but my project, for an extremely small number of programming languages (4 or 5): hand compiled datasets, such as clojure atlas,


and mine:


I'm more thinking like a search engine against the web, but designed around being able to query in sophisticated ways: e.g., regexs, views against the outputs, being able to collect data into forms that a programming language can reason & requery against. WebQL is a commercial product that is like what I'm describing.

While it can't do all of that, you Blekko let's you use slash tags like /programming or /ruby to limit your results to specific, relevant sites. Definitely my go-to for tech queries.

But the quotes don't really work any more, since ages. Not right, anyway. See I search for `"death coffee"` and I get this:

1st hit: Coffee Drinkers Have Slightly Lower Death Rates, Study Finds

2nd hit: Stieg Larsson's Death: Coffee Or Conspiracy?

The first one doesn't even have the phrase "death coffee" in the page! And in the second one it's split up with a colon in between (technically correct, but not a single phrase).

And only after that, come the expected results, where "death" is a modifier of "coffee" (coffee was so strong we called it "death coffee"), which is what you'd expect when you put a phrase in quotes, no?

Results I'm sure the old Google of a few years back would have presented me as first hits, too.

Addition, reading a bit further down this discussion, someone mentioned the `allintext:` operator. This works, it actually returns only pages with the phrase "death coffee":


Ok Stieg Larsson is still the first hit, but as I said, it's technically correct. And now so are the rest of the results :D

BTW, to whoever made that Finderr.com page: It doesn't work quite correctly, if you search for `"death coffee"` it doubles the quotes. You probably need to re-think your query regex. Maybe you could modify it so that it includes the `allintext:` operator when you search for an exact phrase?

Thanks for the feedback! I fixed the handling of quotes. I'm not currently adding 'allintext:' to the search but I do add &nfpr=1 to the query string, which as far as I can tell from testing should be equivalent or actually cover more cases.

Another shortcut to whole-phrase is using `.`

    hacker.news == "hacker news"

Like the plus-sign of late, this works "sometimes."

hacker-news should work too.

That stopped working a couple of years ago. I used to use it all the time.

Warning sign: When you start fucking with your core product.

Qualification: Ultimately, your customers define what "fucking" means with respect to your product.

Ugh, not a fan of this move at all. Just seems clunky and poor usability. I actually know a decent number of non-techies who know about and use the + operator. Seems bizarre to abolish it entirely.

Especially since if you do a search with "+", Google points out that's it's abolished but doesn't change your query for you (i.e. surely it'd also be good for usability to change [hacker +news] into [hacker "news"]?)

Okay, this behavior is getting really odd. I was just wondering if there was a way to tell git to diff the current state with the n-1th commit (git diff --nth-commit 2 or something) and so I searched for


In the first link more is inexplicably bolded. Okay, maybe people sometimes confuse more and most, I'll try double quotes:


Basically the same result. Let's try plus:


Well that seems to work. I guess I'm not part of the A/B test. Any input? I think everyone needs non-fuzzy matching out of their search from time to time.

> In the first link more is inexplicably bolded.

I hate this Google feature. It's getting worse and worse, making my searches increasingly fuzzy. And yes, that's occasionally helpful when I'm not sure what terms to use. But the vast majority of the time, what I type in the box is exactly what I want to find.

It's not that you aren't part of the A/B test, you just also used quotes. Try it again without the quotes.

While we're on the subject, does anyone know how to search with date/period restrictions without using 'Advanced Search'? "foo date:3" (last three months) doesn't work anymore.

You can click on "More search tools" on the left sidebar and below "Any time" choose "Past month," "Past year," etc., or "Custom range..." As a Rails developer I use "Past year" constantly because articles and docs from two years ago are utterly outdated.

But I have always used double quotation marks, am I the only one?

I have used +"a phrase" and gotten a different result from just "a phrase" combined with other words on a number of occasions. It was part of my search strategy for complex information.

This just dumbmifies Google search a little more...

It's like a bad dream, I used it daily to filter results. Why would they obsolete that?

Because they want to give competitors an opening~

It may be related to the +1 stuff, or they may need to clear the way so it can be used for a new purpose.

I've assumed quotes meant one or more words were wanted in that order, not as keywords ("to be or not to be" = I don't mean a lot of documents including all those words, but rather that exact phrase) whereas + meant that particular word or phrase had to be in the page (melting abs +plastic = I'm not concerned with placement, but the term "plastic" has to be explicitly mentioned on the page, not related from another page, as I'm wanting to melt ABS plastic as opposed to reshape my abdominals). I considered + as the opposite of -, which is usually the easier way to narrow something down (melting abs -muscle -workout). Oh well..

And I believe that this was how it used to operator.

Always used it for phrases of two or more words and around a year ago started using it for specifically worded single words since Google likes to autocorrect me. I always assumed it did what the + did, but never had definitive proof.

Nope. I always assumed exact matching was simply broken.

Nope. I haven't used + since Lycos and co. Now - is a different story altogether.

This is ironic for me personally. 8 years ago a troll in the school library insisted that putting quotes aaround my one word search term would improve the results, and I laughed him away. Now his mad idea has been adopted officially.

He may just predicted: quotes will always guarantee intact query (hopefully it won't be broken ever), so they're ultimately giving you better results.

If you think from the current perspective many changes and constants we've seen or we're seeing now in the world (not only IT-related) were predictable, yet not everyone had courage to express them to others. You have to be careful when laughing at others views and ideas.

That behavior is broken on a number of searches, seemly at random, I've done tons of queries where words inside "" will be ignored or helpfully auto corrected with no indication its doing so.

probably due to Google+ ...

I'm sure it's been considered before, but what would the cost of an open source search engine be?

I mean, Wikipedia manages to run itself on donations only.

How hard would it be for, say Mozilla to launch a search service?

Not seeing this across the board. But can this possibly be because they want "Google+" to be its own term and not "Google AND" shorthand?

I can imagine they don't want people continuing to say that "the google plus doesn't work anymore."

It's pretty odd that they don't tell what the + operator now means, or more likely, what it will mean in the future. If you're going to take away a feature that I use, I'd be a lot more accepting if you explained why.

My money's on something related to Google+.

This is terrible news to me. Like a lot of people here, I believe the reason is that they will roll up some social feature that may involve using the plus sign the same way it is used on Google+, but still, it makes things less convenient to me.

I just wrote that thing[1] that I'm running on my localhost, so I can search google the "old" way. I made it as my default search engine in Chrome, so it's transparent. This will not suit everyone's needs, but I'd rather share it anyway.

[1]: https://gist.github.com/1305438

Unless I'm misremembering, at some point in the distant past one could use the dot operator between search terms to mean the equivalent of a quoted phrase. So

was the equivalent of

  "this phrase"
I think it worked with the plus operator as well, so searches like

provided a nice fluent shorthand. I guess the plus is now headed for status as a reserved symbol for the obvious reason.

Yes, I really miss being able to search for new.york or los.angeles, for example. Those terms used to be equivalent to "new york" or "los angeles", but now they are equivalent to the phrases without quotes. I.e. the words no longer have to be next to each other.

Also, requiring the quotes is really painful on a mobile browser keyboard.

As soon as the query hits a server, they probably replace the quotes with a plus sign so they didn't have to change anything in the infrastructure.

What's the bet that this is a self-interested modification, so people can search for Google+ or any other plus-related products they might invent?

+GooglePlus stole it

Dear Google

If you want me to quote a string, make it easy. Allow me to highlight the string and quote it with a single keystroke ", textmate-style.

yours faithfully etc

Someone mentioned that Google has recruited some Yahoo! guys who screwed that up. (I think it's relevant to mention here)

This is really a fuck you to people that used this operator, they could have chosen another single character but they really wanted to piss us off by making us surround the term thus making it a little bit more annoying to type, that is mean. Everytime I have to do this it will make me hate Google a little bit.

-term still works. I guess Google+ needs the plus sign for something, so now "quoted" "terms" will include both quoted and terms, but not only as "quoted terms" but also "terms quoted". It's a bit of bother to use quotes when explicitly demanding a term, but no loss of functionality, as it seems.

It might be like when Google sent a plea to the public requesting not to use Google as a verb fearing the genericizing and potential loss of its trademark.


One positive change I noticed is when I'm searching for something related to C#, Google now retains the # symbol in the search suggestions rather than changing my search to C. For me that almost makes up for the missing + change.

Probably pretty soon you will be able to search +John Doe googleplus profiles.

there is also an ethical aspect here. With "smart" handling of query, that is, not all the terms you digit are required to be on that page, it is simpler for Google (or any other search engine) to unilaterally select where to veicolate your search.

I hope that Google is not doing anything evil here, but the fact that all the words you searched must be in the resulting pages is a very good contract with the user from the point of view of transparency. But for default it is not in this way since long time.

Forcing "you" "to" "type" like that makes it even worse.

Well, Google is known to be doing many evil things, like providing different results in different countries for same queries in same languages (and no, it's beyond personalization). They obviously have some agreements with govts and such to filter some content etc., so I wouldn't be surprised if there was much more to it.

Despite all these left-handed actions, Google is still the best search engine and it rather won't change in upcoming future. The thing is while I criticize Google, I still use their search engine daily, gmail, reader, etc., because after all they have really useful products.

Google is getting worst everyday... Google have already started to return whatever results they think is right even if it doesn't contain any of your keywords and now this?

I read this title in hoping it was a change in javascript

I think it's because people were trying to find their new social network and were getting errors instead. </conspiracytheory>

I wish they had replaced the - operator since many error codes contain a minus and it's easier to type -2081 than "-2081".

Why would an error code be negative?

It's a matter of conventions. Look at Linux kernel for instance. Error codes are positive, but if function is returning error, then return code is -error, i.e. negative and it's pretty sensible solution. Mind that in case of syscalls, errno stuff comes from glibc, which wraps syscalls to set errno and return -1. So searching for -error is not something awkward, but, as stated earlier, you have to quote it in google to make it work.

Good question. Labeling. Sometimes I get odd errors from crashed applications which read error code "-538", for example. Looking for error code 538 can lead to the error I was looking for but also for other 538s not equal to "-538".

So where is the cheat sheet for google search?

I am totally lost now.

Wasn't this an old altavista syntax ?

DuckDuckGo anyone?

fwiw, minus still works to remove results...


This is getting out of hand and quite annoying, especially for technical queries. Maybe Google can indulge us geeks with options or on a different Google site? Surely the tech folks at Google can't be happy with this? Maybe they have a more powerful internal search for themselves.Cmon, share!

Not counting on it though, after seeing what happened to code.google.com. If Bing or anyone else having decent web converage implements a proper search, I'll be all over it.

I'm not sure of your definition of "proper search", but bing seems to have a reasonably flexible search syntax (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff795667.aspx).

I'm personally going to give it and DDG a try over the next couple weeks, just in case either is currently significantly better for tech related searches.

So far Duck Duck Go is looking like a potential win.

I would be happy with a checkbox(sticky or not) or a search hint link that says "Include only pages that contain all search keywords".

"Today, Google announced The Google Keyboard for use with all Google products. With a nostalgic nod to the early days of APL, it contains special keys, thus eliminating the kind of operator overloading that you get with ordinary keyboards. The + key is huge, and takes up the entire space where the numeric keypad would have been. The Google Keyboard is round and bright yellow, making it hard to lose but stylish and ready for easy carry. It comes in two versions. The ad-free one is leased to you at $1,000 per year. The other one, which has a monochrome display strip running across the top, replacing the function keys, is free, but shows a constant stream of text ads in the fashion of a stock market ticker." - Wired, 10/22/2012.

After reading this thread, I think it's safe to say that nobody knows how to search anymore.

Hmm... this actually makes sense.

What does? I'm not sure what's going on, since the meaning of the operators keeps shifting.

So what DOES + mean now? double-quotes? quotes around individual words vs. phrases?

How do I now say I want to find an exact phrase, nothing between the words, no variations in spelling?

Not the most intuitive, but a period between each query word will return results as exact match, unless it actually cant find the phrase and then it will split them up.



I believe its origins lie in the fact that spaces get converted to + in the URL.

I always found it weird when I saw others using plus instead of spaces in their search queries. I always used double quotes to mark phrases to search for exactly.

I want this "exact phrase" - which Google might auto-correct to something similar or may drop altogether if there's enough evidence the page they want to return is what I want, even if it does not have that exact phrase.

I really want this +"exact phrase", and it must appear.

I appreciate that Google works better for regular users now. But I'm struggling to cope with Google's changing search techniques. Combined with content farms; link farms; lousy quality web pages in general; a weird amount of ads and other un-wanted content (youtube, images, etc. Why bother with the tabs if they just get pushed on top of my search anyway?)

There really truly is a niche for a different Google version for advanced users. Allow optional stemming, don't just automatically drop stemmed words in. Allow bracketing of terms +(this OR that) +(up OR down). etc etc etc.

I use quotes for exact phrases, when I see my results returning a lot of things out of the order of what I'm looking for.

I use (or used to use) + to strictly require a single word in my results, when I notice for some odd reason my results seemed to have skipped that word entirely. Conversely, and it appears this still works, I use - to strip out words that are clogging up my results.

I have always found that double quotes were good enough to specify inclusion and I did always use '-' to specify omission. Thinking about that, I do now get your use case.

Can Google try and make + a double operator? We know that G+ only allows you to have your real names on your profiles and the '+' for G+ is to specify a person. Maybe Google will treat the '+' as a G+ only if it has a relevant profile to show and otherwise leave it like it is?

That actually seems like something that Google should be good at. In "The Plex", they talk at great length about the bigram/trigram problem (New vs. New York vs. New York Times) and the context of deciding when you're searching for a person versus a term.

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