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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.

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: 3, Insightful) by SomeGuy on Wednesday June 22, @11:26PM (3 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Wednesday June 22, @11:26PM (#1255480)

    Google searches have indeed been getting worse lately. Just a couple of examples, I've had to do some image searches recently. These were for terms that were not too uncommon, and should have returned lots upon lots of results. Yet I only get perhaps one page, and not even an option to see potentially unrelated stuff.

    Increasingly I have to use site specific searches to return meaningful results, even if the terms or phrase only appears on one page anywhere. Otherwise I get a bazillion mostly unrelated sites first, if the result is even in there at all.

    There have also been multiple times when I have tried to search for some specific term that I KNOW is on a page - and I get nothing. Even doing a site specific search or search for other terms or phrases on the page turns up nothing - it's not freaking indexed at all, even though it has been out there for ages.

    Of course, many of the more general problems I run in to are simply useful information dropping off of the internet altogether. I remember in the days of AltaVista, although it could return a lot of garbage, it could find a lot of valuable gems hidden away in various corners of the net.

    It is getting to the point where if I want to research something, I'm probably better off reading paper books.

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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by kazzie on Thursday June 23, @04:24AM

    by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 23, @04:24AM (#1255522)

    Google may still be in Beta, but that doesn't mean it's getting any better.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @01:32PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @01:32PM (#1255575)

    "There have also been multiple times when I have tried to search for some specific term that I KNOW is on a page"
    are you implying that google keeps a copy of that page so that they can search it?
    I expect that's pretty hard to do, especially with everyone updating everything all the time.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, @04:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 24, @04:24AM (#1255732)

      Yes, they do keep copies. That's what Google Cache is, you know. Also, that's how search works — you download the page, you build the index, and wow! now you can find the words on that page. Do you mean that Google stopped building indexes, and simply returns random results now?