Google sucks

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Years ago, when Google was young, it was the best search engine around; you typed in some words, it looked for them and it displayed the results. It had the best coverage, the best performance, and the most useful results.

But that wasn’t good enough. Having little competition, the Google developers seem to have decided that they had to make the search ‘smarter’ to keep their jobs, because there wasn’t much point paying them to sit around with their feet up when the search was already pretty good.

And it’s all been downhill since then. Now, instead of searching for what I asked it to search for, it searches for what it thinks I wanted to ask for. That’s an absolute disaster for technical queries where it take acronyms then adds or removes vowels, adds an ‘s’ on the end, or searches for synonyms. So even when I know precisely what I want to look for and there are only a few pages on the Internet which have that information, it produces thousands of results which are nothing to do with what I’m actually searching for.

Even in non-technical searches it’s becoming painfully useless. Recently, for example, I was searching for information on Victorian-era Irish housing. Could it just look for those words? Nah, of course not. The results I was actually looking for were swamped by results for Queen Victoria and Irish Home Rule (since housing is kind of like ‘home’, right?).

Google search sucks, because it now believes it knows what I want to search for better than I do. Sure, that gives far more results, but I don’t want more results, I want results that contain what I’m looking for. Now, I can use magic to tell it to search for what I actually asked it to search for, but why should I have to do that? Why should the default be to not search for what I asked it to search for? Computers are dumb, any time someone tries to make them ‘smart’ it merely ensures they’ll annoy the humans trying to use them.

And this is before we get onto the disastrous new interface which tries to search before you’ve finished typing, steals the page-up/page-down keys so that instead of scrolling the page as they do elsewhere they move from one result to the next, and adds pop-up previews of pages from God knows where that I don’t want to visit whenever I happen to move the mouse in the wrong place.

Does anyone know of a search engine that doesn’t suck?

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