Saturday, January 24, 2009

Detecting new "Googlebombs"



Though the spirit of change may be in the air in Washington, some things apparently stay the same. Yes, the old online prank called "Googlebombing" returned for a brief while recently, when Google searches for the words words [failure] and [cheerful achievement] returned President Obama's biography as the top result.

You may remember this issue from a few years ago, when the query [miserable failure] led to the biography of President Bush. For some reason, all those links pointing to the Bush bio were redirected to Obama's. Some people have asked in the past whether these results are a sign of political bias on Google's part, and we've explained that this isn't the case.

Rather than edit these prank results by hand, we developed an algorithm a few years ago to detect Googlebombs. We tend not to run it all the time, because it takes some computing power to process our entire web index and because true Googlebombs are quite rare (we joke around the Googleplex that more articles have been written about Googlebombs than there are actual examples of Googlebombs).

After we became aware of this latest Googlebomb, we re-ran our algorithm and it detected the Googlebomb for [cheerful achievement] as well as for [failure]. As a result, those search queries now return discussion about the Googlebombs rather than the original pages that were returned.

Be sure check out search engine analyst Danny Sullivan's post from yesterday. He does a great job explaining the history behind this and how it all works.

40 comments:

Planet Chiropractic said...

Great to see you guys took care of this so quickly Matt. You guys should some videos about what gets joked about by the water cooler, that would be fun stuff to see!

Mikkel deMib Svendsen said...

> we joke around the Googleplex that more articles have been written about Googlebombs than there are actual examples of Googlebombs

Yes, but the same thing could be said about wars or serial killers and that dosn't take away the fact they it do exist

abc123.com said...

This made me think about the power of Google, you guys could take over the Planet. In a way you already have, be nice boys.

The Hi-Brazilian Blogger said...

Why people should do that? Just because...they like bombs? It's nonsense, it's unfair, it's so...human!

Tony said...
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Ivan said...

Well we have googlebombed our own goverment web site www. government.bg
whit the word "proval" - "провал" - (failure in english) because of there failute in evrything .

Diane said...

First, I am glad to see that you took care of this as quickly as you did.

However, the "miserable failure" thing was still in operation less than a year ago. If there is no bias at Google (and we know this because you told us so), why did this one disappear so quickly and the other hang around for years?

w3bgrrl said...

You let this go on for the entire Bush administration. But since you bought the White House for Obama, you don't want your candidate harmed. You guys totally suck. And your claims not withstanding, even liberals know you're liberal.

Mikkel deMib Svendsen said...

I feel the need to defend Google on the last comment ... which is something many people know I don't do often :)

I've known several Googler's over the years and yes, I do think many of them are liberals but I am also 100% confident that the large majority of them are also very professional people that take the job of creating a good and unbiased search engine very, very seriously.

They most certainly do make mistakes - but I just don't agree to the "all Googlers are so evil" thought of mind :)

w3bgrrl said...

I did not say "all Googlers are so evil" despite your quotes. I am not sure why you would feel compelled to defend Google against something I never said. It is a waste of time to debate strawmen.

Facts are facts. If you're going to address my comments, address what I said. "Utter failure" for the last 6 years has brought people to the biography of George Bush at whitehouse.gov and despite many, many, many, many, many, many reports to Google about it, they did nothing. A few days into the Obama administration Google suddenly becomes concerned. This is a clear case of bias and a clear sign that Google cares a lot about the image of Obama, in whom they have invested quite a bit of money.

sam said...

google should be ashamed of themselves and their obvious bias -

kb24seven said...

You guys are a joke. It doesn't go unnoticed to a lot of us out here that you have a political agenda. If you claim not to, tell me why it took 4 years to figure out the Bush bomb? I give you more credit in the technological arena than that...so the only conclusion a rational person can come to is that you chose not to fix the Bush Bomb.

Your bias is glaring, no matter how much you deny it. You're no more or no better than a democratic mouthpiece, and your business will suffer for it.

Lee Coller said...

Matt, you would have me believe partisanship didn't have anything to do with this? A posting coming from someone who gave the maximum ($2300) to Obama campaign isn't exactly convincing.

Kman said...

Who are you guys kidding...there is NOTHING that you can say that would convince and "rational" person the difference between 4 yrs and 4 days.....sorry you just cannot.

Me said...

w3bgrrl is completely right about the strawman attacks. She didn't say anybody was evil, just biased.

I don't know whether she is right about the bias, but I will say this: It's reasonable for people to THINK that, based on google's actions even if it's not correct.


Earn respect by at least admitting that, rather than ignoring the white elephant.

Marie said...

i didn't realize google was so left-wing!? i wonder if there are any moderate or conservative search engines?

anti-obama said...

Google sucks!

This is just another liberal media outlet that bashed conservative leaders when they were in office...and continues to suck the d**k of liberal officials in office.

Get off the deeeeeck google.

YAHOO is the best!

rodney said...

Google did the right thing in fixing the Obama Googlebomb.

Google showed their true colors by not acting on the Bush Googlebomb.

The real change we need is fairness and unbias in corporate America. What happened to do no evil?

Martin said...

Google a liberal cesspool but so's Yahoo, etc.
We'll have to tolerate their intolerance until something better comes alone.
I deleted "Google News" gadget today: had become a mirror for the LA Times/NY Times garbage.

JB said...

4 Years and you couldn't fix it... now by the power of Obama it only takes 4 days. Liberal Bias!!

Ted said...

I am glad to see people are finally seeing the "MATRIX" of the media. To see it laid out in it's beautiful evilness trying to mindf&%K all of us out of our houses $$$$ and minds.

He who controls the means controls the masses...now get out and shop!! Buy a whole bunch of meaningless crap and get further in debt! HA HA

They are tracking you as you are reading this. I am blocked from the new york times and cbs online for not agreeing with their views in their comments section. They want everyone to think that "everyone" agrees with their agenda but maybe 5% check it out--I work in advertising!

Grat book to start on this is "bias" by bernard goldberg.

chips said...

Hem haw...hem haw Matt...you are as trasparent as glass. Time to try a new search engine

fmrnavy16 said...

guess it wasn't enough that your company bought the white house huh?This is more evidence of the disconnect in america.......you california people need to just create your own country and keep all your illegals inside your borders.....

Disabled Mess said...
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Damien said...

I can't believe you guys... why must you assist the divide in our country?

I am not a huge fan of what Bush did, and yes I voted for Obama, but I am fair... and your actions were not... and all you really did was reinforce those who dislike Obama that he is not who he claims to be.

Why? Why does google.com need to get involved in politics like this?

Google lied when your rep stated you are not biased... and it is obvious... I just wish companies would just admit where they stand... or perhaps take some responsibility in this great divide that our nation finds itself in... Obama can't fix anything when massive organizations like yours are destroying his efforts before they even take place.

Please do the right thing... apologize to Bush and Americans for not reacting quickly to the attack on him... let people know that your organization does support the new President and remind everyone that your company is run by humans with a certain bias... perhaps that might help fix some of the issues you have reinforced.

jeremy said...

If you don't like where you live or the person/people in charge, why don't you just search goddamned "google" for somewhere else you prefer to live you anti-American liberal fucks. Maybe you could find peace in Afghanistan or better yet, Obamas' very own Kenya.

Bill Edwards said...

I agree wholeheartedly with kb24seven who said, "You guys are a joke. It doesn't go unnoticed to a lot of us out here that you have a political agenda." You guys are liberal as the day is long. Google has gotten too big too fast and is obviously turning into a wannabe political player now. Well guess what guys? The liberal party that you backed doesn't care too much for big business. So my hope is that the illegitimate progeny you helped to spawn will one day turn on you and devour its own kind.

And another thing -- don't use Google AdSense. I know more than one person who has been screwed out of the revenue due them. Google cheats people out of the money they earned for Google clients AFTER the ads have already run for a long time on their web sites. Happens all the time....

JNormanDyer said...

Goggle = Typical liberal A$$HATS.

You helped put this con artist Obongo in office. Now we're all stuck with him.

VinceP1974 said...

And how about how Google-owned YouTube and Blogger those with Anti-Obama media would have their accounts frozen , videos taken down , etc.. even when it was well known Obama's hordes of drones were doing all they can to take that content down and were allowed to do so with impunity.


Leftists are thin-skinned, speech-adverse, intolerant and very immature people. They have a tight grip on our nation and we are suffering.

Marla said...

This is disgusting. Why would a company allow it's employees to show such bias??? I did have respect for google, but no longer. I will be using another search engine from now on!!!

Zookeeper29 said...

Four years and you couldn't fix the attacks on President Bush and yet it only four days to fix it for the Kool-aid drinkers Messiah?!?!? Very obvious and so very pathetic.

Sushiboy said...

Uh huh, right. No bias in my web searches you expect me to swallow this story?

You guys are so full of crap it's starting to come out in your blog.

Just because you say something doesn't make it true.

If your let it happen to Bush you should let it happen to Obama. But you won't. I think your comment at the time for Bush's that you wouldn't interfere. You guys suck.

"though the spirit of change may be in the air" ... Why don't you just say "Obama raises hand, lift's nation?"

"We tend not to run it all the time" Like when someone you don't agree with is in office. The previous google bomb had been reported numerous time and been in place for YEARS. What more proof do you need? I guess we just need to point [liars] to this blog or [failure] to your corporate stooge in the oval office, for you to pay any attention and run your algorithm.

You expect us to believe this? .... right. How stupid do you think we are? Why don't you just come out and say it. Have some courage. Why do we have to go read the political donations page to get the truth?

You, Matt Cutts, donated $2,300 to Mr. Obama's presidential bid, and none to the opposition. Which is just fine. But to with-hold your companies services equally is not professional. To lie about it is deplorable.

Check your pants Matt, your bias is showing.

Monika said...

This may go over the heads of those people screaming about the difference between 4 years and 4 days, but I hope simple logic will prevail:

Google developed the googlebomb-counter algorithm in response to the failure=Bush bomb (correct me if I'm wrong). Google did not have this solution available to them beforehand. It took time to create this countermeasure (as well as figuring out the possible consequences to Google's search result policies).

Now Obama gets googlebombed. There's the (already made!) googlebomb-counter algorithm available. The policies concerning manipulation of googlebomb search results have already been sussed out and implemented (to counter the googlebomb on Bush). Apply solution. Wham. Problem solved.

The reason it only took 4 days to fix Obama's googlebomb is simply because the solution was already available. Bush's googlebomb took so long to fix because there was no clear solution existing yet.

Hope people realize the stark, non-political difference between the two cases here.

pitbulls4prada said...

I always thought that "miserable failure" was unfair to George W Bush. He can't help it if he's a lifelong failure at everything he's ever touched. That's always been common knowledge.

The names that should come up on that particular Google search are the names of all the idiots that voted for him. Google should work on it.

Jon Rognerud said...

On a related note - It's been a great way to explain the "power of links" to potential clients. (They get a bit scared too though)...

Sushiboy said...

Monika,

It didn't take 4 years to develop a "goolebomb detector". Google took about two years to hatch from Stanford to become THE search engine. Two years. (although I'm sure it is always being tweaked). By 2004 Google had 10 times the manpower to throw at the problem. Originally they just said, "That is how the algorithm works, too bad" The issue wasn't that it was a tough problem the issue was they simply didn't care, They didn't like Bush and the fact that their browser was being used to defame him didn't bother them one wit.

And never does that show more than now. 4 days. Probably woulda been caught quicker other than Matt Cutts was out in D.C., with the rest of the google team, at the inauguration. If someone google had liked had been in office in 2004 the scenario would have been different.

Lynn said...

It is hard to believe it took years to develop a fix for this and other 'googlebombs'.

Google's 'assurance' that they are unbiased and it took years for the caliber of talent we assume is at google to fix it, is unbelievable.

I too, will look for an alternate search engine. Someone mentioned a conservative search engine...should I 'google' that? Ha.

Robert said...

You said: " feel the need to defend Google on the last comment ... which is something many people know I don't do often :)

I've known several Googler's over the years and yes, I do think many of them are liberals but I am also 100% confident that the large majority of them are also very professional people that take the job of creating a good and unbiased search engine very, very seriously.

They most certainly do make mistakes - but I just don't agree to the "all Googlers are so evil" thought of mind :)"

That's a load of bull! You Leftwing nut jobs at Google, bought and paid for Obama and you knew damn well how to get rid of the googlebomb directed at President Bush, yet you let it go on for FOUR years. 2 weeks for your boy, Obama and yet the liberals are whining about WHY did it take so long??? If I type in Messiah do I get Obama???

Robert said...

Monika said...
This may go over the heads of those people screaming about the difference between 4 years and 4 days, but I hope simple logic will prevail:

Google developed the googlebomb-counter algorithm in response to the failure=Bush bomb (correct me if I'm wrong). Google did not have this solution available to them beforehand. It took time to create this countermeasure (as well as figuring out the possible consequences to Google's search result policies).

Now Obama gets googlebombed. There's the (already made!) googlebomb-counter algorithm available. The policies concerning manipulation of googlebomb search results have already been sussed out and implemented (to counter the googlebomb on Bush). Apply solution. Wham. Problem solved.

The reason it only took 4 days to fix Obama's googlebomb is simply because the solution was already available. Bush's googlebomb took so long to fix because there was no clear solution existing yet.

Hope people realize the stark, non-political difference between the two cases here.

January 31, 2009 3:45 PM

ARE you kidding me Monica???? It took TWO years to bring Google to the forefront as the greatest search engine ever and with all the genuises at Google, it took them FOUR YEARS to write ONE counter algorithm ???? Give me a break Monica. It would have been fixed in days had it been a liberal in office. Admit the bias, you look ignorant defending this.

Vivienne said...

Time to boycott google. Their bias and steering is more obvious with every search I do lately. Time for an alternative!

Absolute monopoly corrupts and = absolute menace.