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September 26, 2010

Search strings Google doesn’t like
Posted by Teresa at 05:05 PM * 22 comments

Search strings Google doesn’t like.

Comments on Search strings Google doesn't like:
#1 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2010, 05:21 PM:

Well, that list is an education in itself.

#2 ::: scyllacat ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 02:29 PM:

I'm reassured that apparently, I HAVE pretty much seen it all.

Some days, I cry for the state of the world.

Today, I seem to be fiddling while Rome burns. What a lovely light.

#3 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 02:59 PM:

Is the capitalization significant? Why was "marijuana" listed in all lower-case on the non-blacklist, but as "marijuanA" on the blacklist?

#4 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 03:08 PM:

Caroline @3:

According to the note at the beginning of the list, the capital letter marks where in the process of typing the search term you trigger the reaction.

So you type m-a-r-i-j-u-a-n and have results being built up. Add that last a, and the page goes blank until you hit enter to confirm you really do want results for the Demon Weed.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 03:15 PM:

I sent in to them that "buggerY" cuts off, and I guess they haven't gotten around to adding it. Club Buggery, an Australian comedy show, is not something one can get suggested even though it's got a lot of hits.

#6 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 03:28 PM:

abi @ 4: Huh. I actually looked for an explanatory note a few times before posting that question, but never saw one. Now I see that I completely skipped over the line under the bolded title.

I fail at webpage-skimming. Oh well.

#7 ::: dlbowman76 ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 5

Well, bugger me with a toasting fork.

(hmmm. On further consideration, please don't.)

#8 ::: ed g. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 04:52 PM:

Funny thing: when you type the final "a" in "marijuana", the suggestions go blank, but if you type a space after that, the suggestions come back.

I haven't checked to see if that's the case with anything of the other "banned" words, but it makes me wonder who the heck Google thinks they're fooling.

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 04:53 PM:

My employer's web filters feel this is a no-no site.

#10 ::: ed g. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 04:54 PM:

Sigh. "...with any of the other banned words." I used to be able to proofread my messages; I don't know what has happened.

#11 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 06:41 PM:

I wrote about some of this behaviour when they launched Instant, in particular, that Irina Slutsky disappears:

However, the modern-day Bowdlers at Google don't white you out based on what you type, but on what they predict you're going to type.

If I type 'blue-footed' - it predicts I'm typing 'blue-foooted booby' and as 'boobies' is an Official Google Smutty Word, my search goes white (in fact 'blue-foo' is enough).

Similarly, typing 'turn again d' implies 'turn again Dick Whittington', and 'dick' is a an Official Google Smutty Word.

The same is true for Irina -so shocking is her last name that all you have to type is 'irina sl' and the Google whiteout erases her from results.

Weirdly, if you type 'who killed cock' it is completed to 'who killed cock-robin' with a hyphen inserted, which implies someone has edited the auto-complete list manually.

Also the more subtle issues around Google predicting what you are going to write next, as warned of by Frayn and Orwell

#12 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2010, 07:41 PM:

Serge @9: I'm not surprised. is well known for distributing information of dubious legality (e.g. they're famous for distributing the potentially-DMCA-violating DeCSS in the early days). Probably blocked from an "access to this site opens up potential legal issues" perspective.

From the list: philip kindRed dick

WTF? Just confirmed this, it really does blank out after philip kindr. philip k dick works just fine though. Just kindred dicK also triggers the filter, although not until it's finished. dick by itself doesn't.

#13 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2010, 02:48 AM:

Jules #12: yes, that's like my 'blue-foo' example; as soon as the projected phrase includes an Official Google Naughty Word™ then it all goes white.

#14 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2010, 01:06 PM:

I guess the obvious conclusion to come to is that whoever set up the search string filter thinks that "philip kindred dick" is filthier than "philip k dick", but isn't more likely that the string "philip kindred dick" just isn't common enough to trigger any quicksearch options?

#15 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2010, 01:38 PM:

NelC @14 — I don't know if that's just supposed to be a joke, but my best guess on the topic is that "philip k dick" completes to

philip k dick's valis
philip k dick's best novel
philip k dick's exegesis
philip k dick's the man in the high castle
philip k dick'
and that dick' is not recognized as a naughty word as dick is.
By the way, I'll recommend as a source for a lot of autocompletion looniness. I'm having a hard time getting my mind around why won't my parakeet.... Thank goodness it's not filthy.

#16 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2010, 02:30 PM:

I find this list utterly unsurprising.

It's not a list of search terms google will blacklist.

It's a list of search completions that google won't throw in the face of someone who's begun typing them, among other things.

You can still search for this stuff; it just won't autocomplete on you ... or on J. Random Bluenose of Colorado Springs, who will have a hissy fit at the word "Breast" coming up in when Little Jimmy started to type in "Brest-Litovsk" for his history assignment and therefore try to have Google banned from schools.

I'm much more annoyed that Microsoft Word 2008 for the Mac's British English spelling checker dictionary contains American mis-spellings of common British English words (and still doesn't include "cunt", "fuck", or any similar useful punctuation/wildcard particles from routine Scottish conversation).

#17 ::: Tina Black ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2010, 02:57 PM:

How strange. Oh well, I know where on the web to find most of the stuff that Google does not want to admit exists.

The list is, however, pretty appalling.

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2010, 03:22 PM:

I think Charlie has the right of it, and the sense of, "censoring" is an artifact of seeing things "disappear". It's not that google doesn't want us to see things (I am not sure that "google" qua google cares).

It's that people who don't want to see (or whom some commercially dangerous segment of the population thinks need protecting, i.e. children; though some of it is nanny statism) are being protected from inadvertent offense.

Which is a different philosophical issue altogether.

#19 ::: Debbie sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 04:27 AM:

Like, not cool, man, you know?

#20 ::: Steve sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 05:48 AM:

URL spam ahoy at #20

#21 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 04:58 PM:

...except now that the spam at #20 has been deleted, my spam alert post now bears the number #20 and calls for its own removal.

Time paradox approaching!

#22 ::: OtterB see probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2012, 10:20 AM:

blah, blah, blah

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