Genii Weblog

For those who don't believe Google has a glitch

Fri 25 Nov 2005, 04:19 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
At the end of September, I wrote that I thought Google had a glitch, because it showed 90,900 hits for my name.  Popular, I may be, but not that popular.  Here was the screen shot from September 30, 2005:

September screenshot

and here is the same search for today:

November screenshot

In two months, the number of hits has gone up 30%, or 27100 hits.  Mind you, I have been posting on this blog for three years, and posting frequently on other sites including forums, for a decade.  What are the chances that my hits have gone up 30%?

But even if they had, what of the other people who responded to that thread?  Richard Schwartz has gone from 283,000 to 321,000.  Only 13%, but a whopping additional 38,000 hits.  Even Gary Roberts, who searched without quotes and got a sky high 13,200,000 hits, has moved up to 14,200,000, a whopping million additional pages.

Why do I care?  Why should you care?

Because Google is the font of all wisdom these days, the Walter Cronkite of this generation.  The computer is seen as Truth, and it is worth stepping back a bit and reminding ourselves that Google is not infallible.  More than reminding ourselves, it might be worth reminding our children, who may not have as much perspective on the fallibility of computers as we do.

By the way, Yahoo reports 46,700 for "Ben Langhinrichs", but only 45,300 for "ben langhinrichs".  It gives even different results for "Ben langhinrichs" and "ben Langhinrichs".  Google at least reports the same number for all of these, but again, there is a suggestion that we should not put too much faith in computers, which are, after all, designed, created and run by fallible people, and run on fallible machinery.

Copyright 2005 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

399.1. Chris Linfoot
(11/28/2005 01:04 AM)

You think that's odd. Try counting the pages on your site in Google's index (search for site:yoursite).

Google reports "about 18,600" pages on my site. There are about 1,000. Even accounting for the fact that most (not all) pages have 4 aliases, that still only makes 4,000 - actually somewhat fewer. Where does 18,600 come from?