I've noticed that I often just started asking google questions instead of trying to assemble a sequence of words that I think will divine the results I'm looking for.
It's always worked reasonably well and saves me from trying to come up with a search.
At the same time I've noticed that coming up with a sequence of search terms has been working worse and worse in google over the last couple years. I frequently get results for whatever google thinks I was searching for, especially if my original search terms resulted in very few results or no results, I'll just get a result page anyway except it's almost never helpful.
Perhaps this is an attempt to make Google more Star-Trek/Watson-like, and it's great for those use-cases. But for the other cases, like looking up specific serial numbers or whatever, it's a mess.
> I've noticed that I often just started asking google questions instead of trying to assemble a sequence of words that I think will divine the results I'm looking for.
This is an interesting area where I found myself playing catch-up to the less technical people in my life. For a long time I saw them typing questions into google and getting bad results and my recommendation to use keywords never really stuck, probably because they didn't have the same mental model of how searching worked that I did.
Then along came a few sites that targeted question-askers and sometimes if you asked a question you'd find someone else asking the same question along with some answers of high variable quality. I didn't discover this myself, because I never typed questions into google -- I had to see observe the less technical people getting better results than me occasionally to pick up on this.
Still, they got worse results most of the time, and while it was a new tool in my arsenal, it wasn't usually what I was looking for and I used it sparingly.
Then when the first iPhone with Siri came out, I bought it for a family member and demo'd it. I did all the stuff the commercial was doing to make it seem like magic.
So my family member takes it and starts talking to it like it's a human. And I instantly regret what I've done, because I knew some keywords it would pick up on to look like magic, but I've made it look like you don't need to know the keywords, you just need to talk to it. So there they are, talking to it like a human, and I'm expecting it to fail. But instead, when they say "call my sister" it replies with a prompt asking who the sister is. I'm sure Siri is still a large number of special cases, but it's large enough that thinking of it that was failed me.
Similarly, I noticed one day that people asking google questions were getting better results than me sometimes even when they weren't looking for other people asking/answering the same question. So I've started asking google questions more often, but again, it required me to observe a less technical person doing so.
I remember back in the old days search engines were explicitly saying that words like "and" "how" etc.. were ignored when returning the results for your search. These days these words are becoming the key to get you the results you are actually looking for.
The top results are normally similar. With exception to the "how+to+use+rails+with+devise+and+omniauth" search, which is rather different.
From my standpoint the "rails+devise+omniauth" yields the best results as the source of truth is closer to the github documentation "OmniAuth: Overview · plataformatec/devise Wiki · GitHub", over third party information "#235 Devise and OmniAuth (revised) - RailsCasts".
Using "how+to+use+rails+with+devise+and+omniauth" gets rather off topic after the 3 or so results.
Another tactic I use is searching like a command line. For instance: "wiki list breaking bad", or "imdb iron man". This don't work with smaller properties, so "site:example.com" is another awesome tool.
Quotes do not require the plus sign as a placeholder for space, unless I'm missing something.
I often use quotes to search for specific Linux error messages with great success; any hit that isn't a direct match gets shafted.
I really miss the + operator in Google searches. Back when Google disabled it to make their Google+ easier to search for, someone posted some good examples of where " " fails to reproduce the + search behavior.
But it seems inevitable that as google targets what most people mean, they will target less what niche people mean (us). They could do both, with explicit operators etc, but would double their indices, and not worth it (for them). :( At least it creates opportunity for the google-usurper.
Yeah, people really need to know how to google effectively. You can also add "-" before a word to cut out results with that word. (example: "cats -dogs" will return searches with cats but take out ones that also include dogs.)
Then there's "file:" and a file extension name to find searches of that filetype. (example: "AP biology file:ppt" returns all ap biology related powerpoints.
Next there's "site:" and a website. (Example: "site:reddit.com fedoras" searches for fedoras on reddit, a very common thing. Useful if a site's search engine sucks.)
That's a massive fail for Google IMO. Why isn't it matching phrases for the search recommendation? Surely "to err is human" popularised by Pope [a million plus results] should be suggested before "to heir is human" (a minor computer game) [60k results].
"heir" is a much closer match for "hair" in terms of Levenshtein distance (which indicates a typing error) and soundex (misheard). But clearly "to err is human" should be offered as a possibility too.
If that happens it's a bug, and I'd love to have some examples to pass along. I'll make sure they get to the right people. Looking through your search history: https://history.google.com/history/ might help you find them.
That, and they also have the Verbatim option under Search Tools, but using it seems to conflict with other Tools, such as date filtering, and also applies to the whole query, not just one or two terms.
Google is increasingly becoming an "Ask Jeeves" clone. I have very little control of my searches and Google just returns what it thinks I meant, rather than what I actually typed.
I would love an advanced search mode with some simple boolean logic, even if it took several seconds to return the result, for those times when you really need to sift through a lot of garbage to find the results you really want.
What is the point of Google returning results in 0.000000001 seconds if they aren't the results I wanted and I have very little means of refining the search. The moment a new search engine comes with this functionality and a decent indexed base, it's bye-bye Google for me.
Same here. I was struggling over some results a couple times today where I entered keywords and it seemed more like Google was trying to answer a question. Wish I could turn the new thing off. I don't use Google that way.
But for the other cases, like looking up specific serial numbers or whatever, it's a mess.
It is a boatload of extra typing, but the "allintext:" operator is your friend for those kinds of searches. I wish there was a URL modifier that could force google to assume allintext: on the search - that way I could have two different google search engines in firefox, one for literal and one for more "semiotic" searches. Maybe there is and I just don't know it?
You only need to look at google's knowledge graph alongside google now to see that that's where they're going. Many Question Answering Systems are able to handle many kinds of questions with relative accuracy now. With all of the different kinds of data sources out there, I'm not really surprised.
That being said machine learning is far from perfect. Allowing for user correction is still an immense must.
Let's hope basic search operators like quotes don't go away anytime soon.
I have noticed the same and I am having more and more difficulty to find exactly what I want in the first result page. The disappearance of the minus and plus operators is probably the major reason for me not getting the results that I want.
I wish the 1998 Google page that made the front page on HN was real (with updated index of course).
I operate 2 websites that are exact clones of each others, the only difference is the domain. This algorithm change literally shifted %70 of the traffic from one of them to the other one, in a matter of hours.
* Links to the websites, I would say almost identical
* Same number of the pages are indexed by google, around ~5 million
* Domains are almost same, no keyword difference
* They both have same pagerank
* Domains are registered together
* Sites are hosted on different ips
* Total traffic sites get is around ~40k/day unique
* By this change, total unique increased by %10
I'm not sure about the algorithm in use, but I what I hope is happening is that Google is now looking for the earliest publication of content when deduplicating. Most copycat sites have to copy their text from something existing, and if Google has already indexed that, they know that later versions of it are copies (and can presumably be knocked down in rank).
Shift happened weeks ago, since then I am waiting for any kind of update from google about the algorithm change. Also I am not arguing what time they have deployed the new algorithm, I am just saying that the traffic shift happened in a matter of hours.
Google has an interesting localization issue when it comes to Canada. If you ask it for someone's height, it gives it in metric, but everyone here uses imperial for body related measurements. The same goes for area, I hear acre a lot more than hectare, but "How big is disneyland" gives me 65ha.
It applies to a lot of special effects too. Many — probably most — special effects are striving to look organic. For example, did you notice that half of Titanic was shot in front of a green screen? Were the special effects in the Adventures of Superman TV series better because their chromakey work was more noticeable?
It isn't that the special effect doesn't have an impact, but that you don't specifically notice the effect because it blends seamlessly into the rest of the film.
> For example, did you notice that half of Titanic was shot in front of a green screen?
Okay, I guess it depends what you mean by "notice." I certainly was aware that much of Titanic was shot in front of a green screen. No matter how photorealistic special effects become, it's often fairly obvious what's real and what's not.
i think it's unequivocally a good thing. Google has a product that works, they aren't trying to change the functionality. People's habits online and the type and volume of data that google indexes has changed, and google needs to update their algorithms so that the product functions the same despite the new inputs the algorithm is receiving.
This. One prime example I can think of is Gmail. I've used it pleasantly, while all the under-the-surface updates happened. I was pleasantly surprised when one day, Gmali client to remind me that I'd forgotten to attach the file I've said I've attached. It's one of the subtle updates which simply enhances the experiences, like performance changes.
Unfortunately the opposite example can be found in the same product, Gmail; when they visibly and ostensibly changed the UI, it was immediately noticed, and widely hated.
Looking at it from the inside working on search, I see the returns as actually getting bigger and bigger. As Google gets better, people get more confident in issuing more complicated queries, which ups the bar again for the types of things search has to be able to do.
If people use your product all day, everyday, and you release the biggest overhaul of your product in 4 years, and nobody notices, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
How do you know it was the "biggest overhaul"? Google is known to use every moment to hype itself.
Also Google has been doing these changes since 2011 almost monthly. Now sites that sell things or make money have almost given up on "free" traffic from Google, they know it's pay to play (outside Product Search it's not openly pay-to-play but you get the message after a few 70% traffic reducing updates).
They were just quoting the article: "While they did say that this was the biggest overhaul to their engine since the 2009 “Caffeine” overhaul (which focused on speed and integrating social network results into search) and that it affects “around 90% of searches”, there wasn’t much offered in terms of technical details."