Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A 'Google bombing' effort has tied the phrase 'miserable failure' to President Bush's biography in the Google search engine.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]
Origins: A popular maxim tells us that "anything man can do, man can undo." A corollary to that concept might be "anything man can do, others can exploit for fun and profit."
Ever since search engines first appeared on the World Wide Web, netizens have been finding ways to tie searches on particular words or phrases to web sites of their choosing, generally out of a profit motive. (Better results bring more traffic to a site, increasing advertising revenue and/or sales.) Search engine companies, meanwhile, have been busily at work fine-tuning their algorithms to eliminate rank-enhancing tricks and ensure their results more accurately reflect the relevance and popularity of indexed web sites.
The "fun" factor has come into play, too, as some people have manipulated search engine results either for the sheer humor of it or to make political
How did this come about, especially since the phrase "miserable failure" appears nowhere in the President's biography? It was the result of a "
Let's get everyone to link to http://www.whitehouse.gov/president/gwbbio.html with the words "Miserable Failure." Our goal is to make Shrubya the top google pick.According to Mr. Johnston's progress report, by the last week of November 2003 the Bush biography was the
According to the New York Times, Google intially didn't take umbrage at the prank, nor did they take steps to counteract it:
Craig Silverstein, Google's director for technology, says the company sees nothing wrong with the public using its search engine this way. No user is hurt, he said, because there is no clearly legitimate site for "miserable failure" being pushed aside.However, in early 2007 Google changed their indexing structure so that "Google-bombing" efforts would produce highly-placed search results pointing not to the bombings' intended targets, but to "commentary, discussions, and articles" about the Google-bombing phenomenon itself. Thus the first result returned by a Google search on "miserable failure" now links to a BBC article about efforts to tie President Bush's name to the phrase.
Moreover, he said, Google's results were taking stock of the range of opinions that are expressed online. "We just reflect the opinion on the Web,'' he said, "for better or worse."
Last updated: 13 August 2007
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