Friday, November 20, 2009

Google fails for not filtering potentially offensive search-suggestion

I'm really not at all offended by the topmost suggestion offered by Google, but I understand that some people can be. So I term this possibly-offensive-to-some-suggestion by Google as a failure.

Google fails on a simple brand-name query

What does one expect as the topmost result on Google, when the query is as simple as wal mart? Google places the website of Wal-Mart at the tenth spot...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

All 4 search engines fail because of unasked abbreviation-substitution

Why are all of these engines returning Mountain Zone, when I'm asking for MTN Zone? I term this cocky behavior as unsolicited oversmartness. I wish there was a feature that allowed me to turn-off this abbreviation-substitution, so that I can make it clear the the engine that when I type MTN Zone, I'm clear in my mind that I'm looking for MTN Zone, and not any Mountain Zone.

Monday, September 28, 2009

All 4 search engines fail for a simple time-related query


I wanted to quickly see what the current EDT time was (my client's time...). It's kind-of pathetic that none of the top 4 engines returned the value of the current EDT time for the query edt time (a query which makes it kind-of obvious that I'm interested in knowing the current EDT time). Wolfram Alpha failed as well.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Google and Ask fail because of 'approximate/nearby' matching

I was reading about the DEC Alpha microprocessor, when I began to realize that it was probably an ahead-of-its-time product. The word 'revolutionary' doesn't seem like an exaggeration. I wanted to know whether others too feel/felt that this microprocessor was revolutionary. So I queried dec alpha revolutionary on the top 4 engines. Results:
  1. Google: Google also includes results with the word "revolution". And this corrupts the results for this particular query. I'm not interested in the query dec alpha revolution (I believe less people will write sentences such as 'The DEC Alpha microprocessor brought about a revolution', compared to those who write 'The DEC Alpha microprocessor was revolutionary'). Alas, there's no easy way to turn-off this approximate/nearby matching, and I have to contend with some clearly irrelevant results, resulting from Google's unsolicited oversmartness
  2. Ask: Surprisingly Google-like results, including the inclusion of revolution. Sad, again
  3. Bing: Thumbs-up for not including approximate/nearby words; Thumbs-down for less-relevant results
  4. Yahoo: Thumbs-up for not including approximate/nearby words; Thumbs-up again for showing the most relevant results for this query

Monday, September 14, 2009

All 4 search engines fail for a simple currency-involving query

I was on a webpage with the price of a Kodak AIO. I selected the price, right clicked it and chose the Search Google for... option. My intention was to get the current conversion for this price (written in US dollars) in Indian rupees. Google failed - it didn't consider $129.99 as a special query that merits some smarter results (in addition to the usual ten blue links).

Disappointed, I went to Wolfram Alpha. It made the mistake of choosing Singapore dollar as the default interpretation for the $ sign, but that's a smaller mistake - it did bring up many currency conversions, which would've nailed my problem, had the interpretation been correct.

The key idea here is that I, as a user, shouldn't have to conduct multiple queries, or perform adjustments to my queries, to get results for simple queries such as $129.99. It's Google's duty to detect these more-meaningful queries, and - perhaps based on my IP address or my Google Account information - show me some intelligent results related to currency. I can obviously type convert $129.99 into indian rupees into Google to get the answer, but that takes so much time and effort.

Google failed even when I tried to provide some help - $129.99 in rupees - while Wolfram Alpha once again did better, although its interpretation was incorrect again., Bing and Yahoo all failed as badly as Google - no point in giving their screenshots (they are all considering $129.99 as a meaningless text-string, instead of a meaningful value).

Friday, August 28, 2009

All 4 search engines fail in different ways for 'Jeremiah Owyang'

I read this story on NYT that three of the star analysts at Forrester have joined Altimeter Group. A query for Jeremiah Owyang on the top 4 search-engines shows how they're strong in their own ways, and how they fail in different ways.
  • Has news results and an interesting 'Questions about...' section, but does not display recent tweets
  • Bing: Displays recents tweets but fails to show recent news
  • Google: Displays news but fails to show recent tweets
  • Yahoo: Fails the most. Neither news nor tweets. None of the 10 blue links cover his leaving Forrester and joining Altimeter. I don't care if his recent tweets are present in the 'Twitter' section on the left pane (they're not) - why should a user have to use a two-step process to see them? and Yahoo Search fail to show the news of Mininova ruling

  • has mixed the news results in its 10 blue links, but doesn't have an explicit section displaying recent news
  • Bing and Google show the recent news
  • Yahoo fails to show the recent news

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The purpose of this blog... to collect failed SERPs - essentially, Search Engine Results Pages which did not live up to my expectations, or did not include some results that were expected, etc. I intend to use page-screenshots to show these failed SERPs.