Ben Langhinrichs

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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:

407.1. Sean Burgess
(11/27/2005 11:09 AM)

It's even scarier for someone like me who has a more common name. [b]Sean Burgess[/b] comes up with 2.75 Million hits. At least my blog is the top link!!


407.2. Laurette Rynne
(11/27/2005 07:45 PM)

Google has been the cause of much consternation in my house recently. As both my husband ( and I ( have both recently started blogging, we have been checking our names in Google a bit lately. To Tim's dismay, my blog usually (but not always) appears in the list higher than his when searching on his name (heh heh heh). Given that my name is a bit more unusual, I come pretty consistantly first on a search of my name, mostly followed by my comments on other blogs. Tim, on the other hand, is often beaten not only by me, but also by an 8th grade basketball player!

Most frustrating is that sometimes his blog does come first - but then an hour later it's down the list! Funny from my perspective, but it certainly highlights how varying your responses can be...

407.3. 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?