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posted by hubie on Wednesday June 22, @12:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the I've-got-a-secret dept.

Over at The Atlantic, Charlie Warzel wonders if Google Search is becoming a victim of its own success:

In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post about Google's search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product's "results have gone to shit." The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google's Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton's claims. "You said in the post that quotes don't give exact matches. They really do. Honest," Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets.

Brereton's most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit "Enter." The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. "Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust," Brereton argued, therefore "we resort to using Google, and appending the word 'reddit' to the end of our queries." Brereton cited Google Trends data that show that people are searching the word reddit on Google more than ever before.

[...] Google has built wildly successful mobile operating systems, mapped the world, changed how we email and store photos, and tried, with varying success, to build cars that drive themselves. [...] Most of the tech company's products—Maps, Gmail—are Trojan horses for a gargantuan personalized-advertising business, and Search is the one that started it all. It is the modern template for what the technology critic Shoshana Zuboff termed "surveillance capitalism."

The article goes on at length about ruthless commercialism via ever-intrusive ads, constant tweaks to the search algorithm, and how different generations use the ubiquitous search engine.

Previously:
Google's Ad Business Could Finally Crack Open
Google Allegedly Hid Documents From Search Monopoly Lawsuit, DOJ Claims
EU and UK Open Antitrust Probe Into Google and Meta Over Online Ads


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @12:43PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @12:43PM (#1255335)

    yes, I've also noticed that google is trying more and more to send me to bloated javascript nonsense that won't show me useful text. fairly often it will send me to the front page of a blog, apparently leaving the job of finding the relevant post to me.
    however, if I google something and add "stackoverflow" to it, or "wiki", or some other site name, the results are a lot more useful than if I use the site's native search functionality (that's almost always junk).
    go figure.

    oh. and I keep trying to use duckduckgo, but it usually gives me useless results.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by soylentnewsfan1 on Wednesday June 22, @01:04PM (8 children)

    by soylentnewsfan1 (6684) on Wednesday June 22, @01:04PM (#1255338)

    I've been getting better and better results from https://search.brave.com [brave.com] it was and for many cases due to its original tuning, produces the same google results as google and even in about 1% of results mixes them in, but for the 99% of the rest it is independent and only improving. When I first used it, it was duckduckgo level, but it has shot past that, now it often (unfortunately not always) beats google in relevance, and I've already migrated about half of my devices to it, I can't wait to see what happens in a year, hopefully I'll be able to use it solely.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by liar on Wednesday June 22, @02:50PM (7 children)

      by liar (17039) on Wednesday June 22, @02:50PM (#1255360)

      I use Brave browser, but haven't tried their search engine. I have been moving from Duckduckgo on my devices to Startpage https://www.startpage.com/. [startpage.com] Is Brave search better?

      --
      Noli nothis permittere te terere.
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday June 22, @03:02PM (5 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 22, @03:02PM (#1255364) Homepage Journal

        +1 informative.

        Allow me to add a plug for Whoogle. I needed the phone number for a business in Mt. Pleasant minutes ago. I KNOW that doing a search on Google will give me hits that are nonsense, totally unrelated to the information I want. So, I go to my locally hosted Whoogle instance, type in the business name, press enter, and every single link is directly related to the business. The first link lands on the business' home page, complete with phone number, fax number, driving directions, a photo of the building, photos of personnel and equipment.

        Believe it or not, I got those results despite misspelling the business name in my search! The business name (misspelled) and the city were sufficient terms to get the information I needed.

        https://github.com/benbusby/whoogle-search [github.com]

        --
        There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @03:18PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @03:18PM (#1255371)

          Ma Bell used to give away large paper books full of phone numbers.

          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday June 22, @03:28PM

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 22, @03:28PM (#1255375) Homepage Journal

            Yes, and I would need a small library dedicated to the phone books, if I were to keep every phone book for every town within 100 miles of my home. Whats more, the phone book would only give me the phone number. All that information on the business' home page is potentially useful, like the driving directions.

            --
            There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, @03:04PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, @03:04PM (#1255824)
            Which would be stupid nowadays where most people with phones have mobile phones.

            A website would be better nowadays.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @07:05PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @07:05PM (#1255426)

          > ...Google will give me hits that are nonsense

          Yep, same result with Google search.
          However, using Google Maps usually gets me the local business information I need including phone number.

        • (Score: 5, Informative) by driverless on Thursday June 23, @03:31PM

          by driverless (4770) on Thursday June 23, @03:31PM (#1255601)

          I KNOW that doing a search on Google will give me hits that are nonsense, totally unrelated to the information I want.

          Yup, showing that Google’s Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, is full of shit with his "You said in the post that quotes don’t give exact matches. They really do. Honest": Enter search terms in quotes and you get a bunch of results that don't contain the quoted terms anywhere on the page. They really don't. Honest.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @05:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @05:49PM (#1255417)

        Startpage is a proxy to google (a proxy; they don't just use google's index).

        Nearly everyone else uses Bing indexes. As the duckduckgo censorship incident made famous, any censorship by MS in Bing's index also affects the downstream users of that index (MS was responsible for the censorship). Personal experience seems like Bing index is biased toward MS / Windows results for tech searches. When I tried to use duckduckgo, I ended up making a custom search adapter for firefox that auto appended -microsoft -windows to every search to make duckduckgo's results a little less useless.

        Brave uses both Bing and Yandex, and supposedly adds in their own indexing too. I saw pretty similar results to duckduckgo.

        yandex.eu an alternative to google/bing with their own indexes (supports English UI and results), but with the current war/sanctions, it has occasionally just redirected to (Russian only) yandex.ru. I have found useful results via yandex that did not surface with google, but google is better overall.

        Google search really does suck lately, but I haven't found an alternative that is as good for technical searches.

        You can block those shitty affiliate link fake review sites that are the first page(s) of search results when researching products and blogspam sites that just cut and paste other site content using custom ublock origin rulesets .

        e.g.,:
        https://github.com/darekkay/config-files/blob/master/adblocker/search-engines.txt [github.com]
        https://github.com/stroobants-dev/ublock-origin-shitty-copies-filter [github.com]

        Or, a dedicated extension (gives you a link in the search results to block a domain and easy list subscriptions, but it is yet another extension with access to your search activity)

        https://github.com/iorate/ublacklist [github.com]

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @01:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 22, @01:09PM (#1255340)

    "Wiki" is not a site, and if you are trying to use DuckDuckGo, at least give a shot at the bangs: add a !so to your query to search directly on stackoverflow, !r on reddit, !w on Wikipedia, and so on...