Friday, March 28, 2008

Google Will Not Say That

I was monkeying around with Google a bit.

One nice feature of Google is that if you accidentally mistype something you're searching for, Google tries to guess the text that you intended to type.

I'll actually use this as a feature in some cases. Say there's a scientific phenomena or some other such thing for which I can't quite remember the proper name.

I'll pop a close approximation of it into Google, and I'll usually be able to get the correct spelling of what I'm looking for after hitting "Search", often displayed to me as:

Did you mean: [correctly spelled term]

So, I thought it would be funny if I got Google to say something naughty, like Did you mean: asshole

But dammit, it appears that Google doesn't like to swear.

I did a little scientific experiment, using a more common expletive, "asshole" and compared it with a lesser-used though no less colorful word, "asswipe".

First, let's type in the words with their correct spelling.

Search for asshole:

Ooh! Over 24 million hits. That's a pretty popular swear word.

Now let's search for asswipe:

That's not a shabby search result total, but at under 400,000 that's significantly smaller than the results for asshole.

Now, let's intentionally misspell both words, in the exact same manner.

Let's search for asssdwipee

Hmm, no results, but Google thinks I might be looking for "asswipe".

Now let's search for asssdholee

No results, and Google has no suggestions for me! It doesn't matter that "asshole" brings back 60 times the results that "asswipe" does, and that I am misspelling the two words in the same exact manner. Sorry, Google cannot help you!


I am of course not constructing a scientific theory backed up by hills of proofs and anecdotal evidence.

However, I challenge you to type in some text in Google where it will suggest the word "asshole" as what you were really searching for. Come to think of it, why not also try to get Google to suggest any of the seven dirty words?


My brother took my challenge, and I must say I am impressed.


BeckEye said...

Once, I Googled "Splotchy" and it said, "did you mean asshole?"

I'm sorry but you walked right into that. Asswipe.

Splotchy said...

Ouch, my soul hurts.

Gifted Typist said...

I hate self-righteous pedantic, know-it-all non-humans. The arrogance of things like the Microsoft Paper Clip that pops up and asks if you need help.

Timothy Donavan Russell said...

I tried something as short as "assdwipe", and I still got "Did you mean: asswipe?"

I also played around with motherfucker and cocksucker in similar fashions, but to no avail.

There's something special about asswipe!

BeckEye said...

I always hurt the ones I love.

Distributorcap said...

i guess there are no assholes at google

Freida Bee said...

I thought I'd try Yahoo's search engine. Yahoo does something similar. For an assdwipe search it says, "We have included asswipe results - Show only assdwipe." For Assdhole (and the other four mistakes I made trying to find one that had no legitimate hits, there seemed to be plenty of entries with the mistaken spelling, but no offering to correct it. Or it would try to interpret it as another word. "assholt" "did you mean 'assault'?"

I'm all over minimally scientific means to find hypotheical scientific suppositions. Is that an urge to categorize the natural world mixed with laziness?

McGone said...

I'm amused that your brother got "69" results for his search.

Splotchy said...

gifted t, hate is a strong word, but entirely appropriate for Clippy the paper clip from hell (yes, its name is Clippy).

tim, who doesn't love asswipes? Without them our underwear would get very messy.

beckeye, you love me! You love me!

dc, nope, just asswipes.

freida b, I like "assholt" -- sounds aristocratic. And I am totally there with your scientific laziness.

mcgone, nice catch! I hadn't even noticed that!

mwb said...

I'm vaguely disturbed that I think this is a useful thing to do.

Lott Holtz said...

Ever see Type in two different words or terms and it will let you know which one has more Google hits. For instance:

Dick Cheney is God: 438,000 hits.
Dick Cheney is the Devil: 236,000 hits.

There you go. Irrefutable proof that people are as mistaken about Dick Cheney as they are about God himself.

Splotchy said...

mwb, useful and disturbing is my middle name!

Lott Holtz, I remember the concept of Google fights, but hadn't thought about it in a long time. Thanks for the info.