back to article Web searching died the day they invented SEO

You can find anything on the internet apart from the specific thing you're looking for. No wonder the boffins at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are bigging up the enormity of the task of decoding data from its recently rediscovered zombie satellite. They probably did a web search for the old system and came up with a blank …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I think you forgot one

    The totally circular references that go through umpteen zillion links to take you back to the first one... without any of them telling you anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I think you forgot one

      Also this one: if you're looking for some technical stuff, not only code, and is starting to get desperate, search for "title of a book or manual" pdf.

      You'll get dozens of results of either register for FREE to get "title of a book or manual" from the USENET!!1! or sites like wer87fbwauebfygc.blog.com with messages like we have "title of a book or manual" cheap from Canadian pharmacies or find dozens of single "title of a book or manual" in your neighborhood or here is the secret of a bigger, harder, long-duration "title of a book or manual"...

      What a world, we can't even trust the pirates :-)

      1. NoneSuch
        FAIL

        Ummmm...

        "Surely the internet is big enough to contain all human intelligence."

        It does, but it is dwarfed by human ignorance, arrogance and cute cat videos.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Ummmm...

          dwarfed by human ignorance, arrogance and cute cat videos

          "1 out of 3 ain't bad"..

          (I have a nice video of the damage that one of my cats did to my arm.. Note to self: when trying to get a 7kg semi-feral male cat into a cage for his vets appointment, remember to wear bike leathers. And make sure that plenty of hot running water is available and that towels are down to soak up the blood..)

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I think you forgot one

      Or that he first 10 pages of links will always be to Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, Idealo and other deals sites offering cheap copies of what you are searching for...

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: I think you forgot one

        Actually, I find that the first ten pages invariably turn out to be either from Pinterest (which I'd prefer banned from my results in perpetuity considering a) it's always utterly irrelevant b) wants me to register even to give me the time of the day), Alibaba (for which I, not being an en-gros merchant with Eastern proclivities have precisely zero use, ever) or some site aggregating "best deals" from half of the retailers on the internet (bonus: if, accidentally, it advertises exactly the item I'm looking for, it turns out the affiliate link is expired or the item is no longer sold by the actual retailer who pretends to have never even heard of it).

        Oh, and the best part? As far as I know, there is no such thing as "operator" or "boolean", at least not on Google. The only thing they let you do is put your terms in quotes to (hopefully) search for exact expression. "Plus" means nothing. "AND" means nothing (guess what, "OR" works - because it doesn't impede Googles ability to shove MORE unrelated garbage down your throat - but it's useless, because it's on by default either way). You wanted BOTH your search terms mandatory? Tough luck, sunshine, we don't have the technology for that. Not any more...

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: I think you forgot one

          The OR operator does work, and the AND operator is redundant, if you want to search for cat and hats you can just search for cats hats instead of cats AND hats.

          You want both to be mandatory? "cats" "hats".

          As with many things, learning to use a tool properly will give you better results than just shouting at it.

          1. Timmy B Silver badge

            Re: I think you forgot one

            @phuzz...

            nope - googling "cats AND hats" gives different results to "cats hats". I actually did the searches.

          2. wayne 8

            Re: I think you forgot one

            I remember when Google killed logical operators to "make search results faster". I am guessing that is when "pay to play" SEO went into overdrive.

            Google's attitude was that we wanted some results quicker rather than the results we expected.

            Used to be one could use "NOT" to exclude a word. I could get very relevant results. Talking 1995-6.

            Now you get crap and if I try to limit the crap, that action apparently triggers a reaction from the search engine and I get worse crap.

            Would be nice to have front end that could do the boolean logic on the search results and then filter the crap, like a mashup of DuckDuckGo and AdBlocker.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: I think you forgot one

          @DropBear what I find really great about Google is, when I have bought a product and I am looking for the handbook or a tutorial (explicitly searching for "product handbook" or "how do I use product" type queries), I just get pages and pages of deals on buying the product I already have and want more information about...

          Although it seem to go in cycles, sometimes it does actually return useful information for a few weeks, then it drops back to just listing shopping deals.

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I think you forgot one

          "Actually, I find that the first ten pages invariably turn out to be either from Pinterest "

          -pinterest.* -ebay.* -shutterstock.* search term

          Now, if there was a way to make that ( + other sites!) permanent across all device. Maybe I'll have to do my own Google front page which lets me add/remove those and then passes the resulting search term to google?

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: I think you forgot one

            "-pinterest.* -ebay.* -shutterstock.* search term"

            It still requires a generic -estate agent -fast food -hotel variant if the search term contains anything vaguely resembling a place name.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: I think you forgot one

        Always remembering that if you click on any of those links you'll get a page along the lines of 'Whoops! we couldn't find 《insert search term here》. Would you like to buy some cheap Viagra instead?'

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I think you forgot one

      "The totally circular references"

      As I understand it, pr0n sites offering "free pr0n" often do that to frustrate potential customers so they can hook you into paying for it. they call it "circle jerking".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Search engines in search engines

      What I hate most is getting a hit, you follow it but only to end up with another search engine. The heck!?

    5. tfewster Silver badge
    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I think you forgot one

      What Google really should do...but won't even think about it, is give us a "disable SEO" button.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like these Something for the weekend articles, but I can never find them...

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/Author/Alistair-Dabbs

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Dabbs'y - please tell me you realised that was a joke!

        1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
          Meh

          re: Dabbs'y - please tell me you realised that was a joke!

          well, very nearly anyway.

          1. d3rrial

            Re: re: Dabbs'y - please tell me you realised that was a joke!

            @IsJustabloke uhh, this is the internet. Nobody ever lies on the internet.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Actually, NASA has the code.

    And the computers to run it on.

    They've just misplaced both of them. And the eight folks who know how to build the necessary system, should they actually find 'em again, are still on the payroll. NASA can even cobble together the rest of the necessary ground systems from existing parts ... But doing all of that wouldn't increase the budget, now would it?

    You're right about search engines. I should never have sold my portal ...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

      NASA warehouses probably have also the Ark of the Covenant somewhere, a black monolith, alongside the original good-res tapes recorded in Australia of the Moon landing, and I think also some alien messages offering to share millions of zuwhqiw if you reply and help them (if you do, they abduct you with a beam of light, of course).

      Just nobody really knows where they are any longer. They should ask archeologist to dig in them, and neatly catalog all the findings. These are also the kind of people who may still have some of the devices needed to read the tapes...

      The same archeologists you may need soon to find something that was left on the Internet long ago....

      Yet, I wish SEO could extinct soon like dinosaurs, hit by a huge electronic asteroids, and only found in some ancient Internet layer - below IP.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

        NASA warehouses probably have also the Ark of the Covenant somewhere, a black monolith, alongside the original good-res tapes recorded in Australia of the Moon landing, and I think also some alien messages offering to share millions of zuwhqiw if you reply and help them (if you do, they abduct you with a beam of light, of course).

        And the missing Doctor Who and Dad's Army episodes, and, oddly enough, the 1950 TV production of "Miss Mabel"

      2. tony trolle

        Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

        archeologists are too busy looking in the car parks for dinosaur fossils, check the news for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland and dinosaur fossil poop.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

          Why all the talk about archeologists? The IMAGE satellite has only been silent for 13 years, FFS! If you look at the hardware the thing was built from (here), everything on it, except data gathering instruments, is off the shelf. It communicates in a bog-standard way with NASA's so-called "deep space network". There is absolutely no reason NASA shouldn't be able to re-open communications with the thing overnight.

          And THAT might be the real story. Is whatever passes for a supposedly dead bird's project management incompetent? Do they not understand that they already have the capability?

          1. herman Silver badge

            Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

            Well, a dead bird can be very dangerous: https://globalnews.ca/news/4004192/dead-canada-goose-knocks-hunter-unconscious/

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

              I rather suspect that a goose would be slightly over done and dryer than a popcorn's fart if it fell from low earth orbit ...

              I note the article didn't mention if they kept the goose. If not, what a waste.

          2. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

            Since it's been a "dead bird' I would expect that all the project management and team have been scattered to the far winds. Probably harder to do than Jake and Elwood getting the band back together... but possible.

        2. emess

          Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

          err, they're not archaeologists, they're paleontologists.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

      Fire up the PDP8 in the museum.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

        Fire up the PDP8 in the museum.

        No need, they're on FPGAs now...https://opencores.org/project,pdp8,features

        Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

        2nd item in my Google search: http://www.bitsavers.org/www.computer.museum.uq.edu.au/pdf/DEC-10-AFDO-D%20decsystem10%20FORTRAN%20IV%20Programmer%27s%20Reference%20Manual.pdf

        Now, what were you saying about not being able to find anything on The Internet?

        (or maybe it's just that Google has learned what I like to search for?)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually, NASA has the code.

        "Fire up the PDP8 in the museum."

        When someone domated am ancient IBM mainframe to the Computer History Museum they wanted to try to get it working again but, of course, no-one was still using/supporting that model ... so someone suggested they get an article put in the IBM pensiioners newsletter asking if anyone whi'd worked on this would like to help get one running again ... and within days they had dozens of volunteers.

  4. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Well, yes, but...

    The Internet isn't really that full of stuff that was around before it started to get big. Searching for anything from before 2000 is increasingly difficult, and what you do find tends to be enthusiast-generated and full of errors. Often a wrong number can be traced back to a single source that has been copied multiple times.

    I was looking the other day for information on semi-Diesel engines (because I am sad and do not have a life etc.) to supplement what I have in my 1950s textbooks. The number of errors online was quite extraordinary, and this is a technology which was still in use into the 1960s (and there may still be a narrowboat or two with such an engine). If I want to know more it'll probably mean a trip to Cambridge, which still keeps all the textbooks going back to Theory and Practice of Large Ark Manufacture, AUP BC 2540, Noah et al.

    And then there's bit rot, unmaintained pages and stuff hosted on servers that have since been turned off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, yes, but...

      "Searching for anything from before 2000 is increasingly difficult, [...]"

      Not many years ago I used to use Google to find my prior postings on a subject so I could use copy&paste in a new similar posting. Nowadays it usually comes up with "not found".

      If I find it by other means there is no apparent reason why it wasn't found by the search - assuming it was looking.

      Two WIBNIY*** enhancements to the El Reg comment facility.

      1) search through ones own previous postings

      2) mark a posting in "My Posts" if someone has replied to it.

      ***Wouldn't It Be Nice If You..."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, yes, but...

      >Theory and Practice of Large Ark Manufacture, AUP BC 2540, Noah et al.

      And I thought I was a nerd/geek.

      (Doff cap)

    3. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Well, yes, but...

      Searching for anything from before 2000 is increasingly difficult,

      Not if you are looking for information on certain things, then you suddenly enter a museum or twilight world of 'the land the internet forgot' where all the pages are from the turn of the century and the information questionable as to whether still relevant.

      Example : Search for 'Window Managers' and suddenly find yourself there.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Well, yes, but...

      "Searching for anything from before 2000 is increasingly difficult"

      "what you do find tends to be enthusiast-generated and full of errors"

      and, from the article

      "Rather than showing what you're searching for, search results show you links that marketeers want you click on instead. The whole point of SEO today is to direct you to content you don't want and didn't ask for."

      That's pretty much the general frustration experience, yeah.

      As for the 2nd point, "what you do find tends to be enthusiast-generated and full of errors", <sarcasm>I'll step on a land mine and blame net neutrality</sarcasm>. heh.

      Trolling, trolling, la, la-la, la-la, whenever I throw in my line, a fish will come to call... [to the tune of 'sailing sailing' if it wasn't already obvious]

      troll icon, because, obvious

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, yes, but...

      Maybe it will get better again someday...

      My CRT fades. The video dims. All that remains is low memory. I remember a time of advertising, ruined searches, this wasted bandwidth.

      But most of all, I remember the web warrior, the man we called Max. To understand who he was we have to go back to the other time, when the world was powered by SEO searches and the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel — gone now, swept away.

      For reasons long forgotten a mighty warrior tribe went into a search engine war against the people and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without SEO searches they were nothing. They'd built a house of straw. The thundering advertising based engines sputtered and stopped.

      Their leaders talked and talked and talked, but nothing could stem the avalanche of lost adevertising revenue. Their world crumbled. Cities exploded — a whirlwind of boolean searches, a firestorm of results the users acutally wanted. Men began to feed on good search results.

      On the web it was a command line nightmare. Only those capable enough to provide specific search criteria, brutal enough to leverage boolean repressions would survive. The gangs took over the net, ready to wage war for an accurate result, and in this maelstrom of decay ordinary men were battered and smashed — men like Max, the web warrior Max.

      In the roar of a SEO search engine, he lost everything he had searched for and became a shell of a man, a burnt-out desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past failed search results, a man who wandered out into the web wasteland.

      And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to search again.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For some inexplicable reason I now have monty pythons the universe song in my head.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      For some inexplicable reason I now have monty pythons the universe song in my head.

      I have the phrase "...and you thought it was a long way to the shops..." going through my head.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Monty Python's Galaxy song - performed by Stephen Hawking.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Quote marks? Such a pain."

    Giving a search engine the exact phrase in quotes rarely returns any correct matches. It doesn't help that the algorithms seem to remove any significant characters like dots or apostrophes first.

    Recently some YouTube searches have started coming up with "0 results" for the names of groups - yet still happily display all the group's old videos on their own YouTube page

    It is not a case of an "exact match" - as on other similarly constructed search terms they come up with very vague matches ahead of the expected ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but have you noticed that if you don't put the quote marks the first 5 or so results have "missing "term"" underneath them then the next results have both terms. I really don't get that logic.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        I've always assumed that when you get the "missing {term}" stuff first it's because there are too many muppets searching for stuff with irrelevant terms. The reason you can't find good hits for "bog Snorkling" is because loads of people want to find snorkles and for some reason search "bog standard snorkling".

        Or something about page rank escalating faster than relevance, but I imagine muppets are more plausible.

        1. whileI'mhere

          Well if they are looking for 'snorkles' they may wish to search for 'snorkels'

      2. 20TC

        I think the SEO, or lets be honest "Adword cash" wins out and put the less relevant results higher up even with missing terms.

        Essentially proof of what Dabbsy's saying that it gives you what the marketeers want you to see (first).

    2. Mike Flugennock

      re: YouTube searches with quotes...?

      Hmm, that's news to me.

      I've always had really good luck with something like

      stones "gimme shelter" domain youtube.com

      ...where the band name and "song title" can vary to taste.

  8. Paul Kinsler

    Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

    Well, there's always comp.lang.fortran

    1. x 7

      Re: Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

      Somewhere I think I still have one

      Unread..........

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

        Still got mine, from college days. And it's ring-bound.

        No, you can't have it. My preciousss!

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

      Yes.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

        I still have a Fortran manual somewhere. It is a bit battered from the fury with which I hurled it across the room every time I had to look up the abomination that is the implied do loop.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Enormity" means great evil, not large size.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Yeah?

      What's your point?

    2. Marshalltown
      Headmaster

      ""Enormity" means great evil, not large size."

      Not necessarily. It has come to be used that way, but it really simply means immensity. The use is well established in literature.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      >> "Enormity" means great evil, not large size.

      Yes, that's why I used the word. Please do continue providing dictionary definitions. It is thrilling.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, that's why I used the word.

        Stop insulting the punters and get on with next week's edition. We're paying you for this, although I'm not sure how.

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Yes

    Doesn't matter what you search for on the internet it'll try to point you to something that makes someone some money. All the clever search tricks that we used to use to exclude useless stuff get ignored. Even more annoying though is that even when you are wanting to buy something the SEO stuff means that instead of finding answers to queries before purchase the search results only point to the aspects of the item that they want you to know about and are already well publicised. Because some marketing idiot thinks this is the USP. As in, " I don't care that the sodding printer can talk to my mobile phone, I want to know has it got an ethernet connection!"

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Yes

      "the SEO stuff means that instead of finding answers to queries before purchase the search results only point to the aspects of the item that they want you to know about "

      Search term: History of Dingle Waddlers.

      results.

      Best prices on "History of Dingle Waddlers."

      WTF? How does that work then?

  11. Dr_N Silver badge
    Coat

    Hmmmmm...

    Maybe there's a career in professional internet searching, 'cause I've never had a problem finding things. Apart from in the 90s when there wasn't actually much of anything to find on the WWW.

    Now, where did I put my keys ... ?

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmmm...

      "In the post Tokyo/San Francisco earthquake world of the early 21st century, Colin Laney is referred to agents of mega-rock star Rez of the musical group Lo/Rez for a job using his peculiar talent of sifting through vast amounts of mundane data to find "nodal points" of particular relevance" - about William Gibson, Idoru

      Maybe there will be, one day...

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmmm...

        Idoru!

        I was trying to remember that title 2 days ago!

        Thanks!

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmmm...

      I used to be a whiz at finding things. There was virtually nothing I couldn't find if it was there. I was quite proud of that skill, hugely disappointed when I didn't get an interview for a job doing exactly that.

      These days not so much. Even when trying to game the search with tricks which used to work it seems to just ignore them.

      The worst cases I find are searching on past events when there has been some similar event recently. The recent events just drowns out the old, page after page of exactly the same copy posted by different sites.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmmm...

        The worst cases I find are searching on past events when there has been some similar event recently. The recent events just drowns out the old, page after page of exactly the same copy posted by different sites.

        I get the opposite result researching IT problems and bugs.

        Lots of hits to problems in 2009 or 2011 for old versions of video drivers no longer in use or mostly retired desktops.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Hmmmmm...

          @Jason & Teiwaz

          It's the Principle of Inverse Temporal Relevance. Whatever you search for you always get the answer from the time-frame you didn't want. Whatever you do don't include the date you wanted it for. That gives the search engine the clue as to what to ignore.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Hmmmmm...

      "Apart from in the 90s when there wasn't actually much of anything to find on the WWW."

      and the AOL 'web crawler' actually did a pretty good job.

      Nowadays I find myself REQUIRING the quoted terms in half the searches I do in order to avoid the search on "what they thought I wanted" showing up first... damn that 'AS' (Artificial Stupidity) and thanks for "correcting" my typing/spelling for me.

      (but it made an ad show up, which increased their revenue just a bit)

  12. Fading Silver badge
    Boffin

    The B ark.....

    Looks like the members of the B ark have taken over the internet - time to partition off the marketing/consumer side run by google and have another "light web" (like the dark web but this time only for enlightenment rather than access to silk road) - and it will only use IP6 and wikipedia will be useful.....

    Nah... probably be just full of cat picks again....

    1. Keef

      Re: The B ark.....

      What's a cat pick?

      Mice in favour of cheese?

      Cream over goldfish?

      The public have a right to know...

      1. BoldMan

        Re: The B ark.....

        Its a small digging tool that cats use when mining for capnip...

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: The B ark.....

          What's a capnip? Is it what you get wearing a baseball cap with a hunger for brains and a propensity for biting...?

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: The B ark.....

          cat minecraft. no, do NOT go there...

      2. Fading Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: The B ark.....

        Auto-correct strikes again.......

        But if you search I am pretty sure there will be some pics of cat picks somewhere....

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: The B ark.....

        What's a cat pick?

        Guitar pick for cats.

        or

        Guitar pick with cats claw pointy end.

        Cats playing guitar Seriously, Wahh! cute!!

        1. Kevin Fairhurst

          Re: The B ark.....

          Surely this should be the obligatory video for cats playing guitar?

          http://rathergood.com/gaybar/

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The B ark.....

          Cats playing guitars?

          http://rathergood.com/lightsabre/

      4. jonathan keith

        Re: The B ark.....

        Picks used to mine for cats.

      5. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: The B ark.....

        "What's a cat pick?"

        In this context, Pick of the Week or Pick of the Day of cat pics.

      6. whileI'mhere

        Re: The B ark.....

        Like an ice pick, but used to make holes in cats instead.

  13. Roj Blake Silver badge

    The one thing SEO is good for...

    ...is finding SEO companies online.

    SEO companies are literally the only thing where if you do a search for one you are presented with a list in the order of how good they are.

    Which begs the question: why would you use one that advertises on the side of taxis?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The one thing SEO is good for...

      The First Rule of SEO is to never talk about SEO especially how it works (or is supposed to work).

      The Second Rule is to do everything via an anonymizer and give a very big finger to Google.

      Don't forget clearing your Browser Cache and Cookies after each and every search.

      VM's that get overwritten with a clean copy after every use are especially useful.

      I've been doing that for the last twelve+ years and if I search for me on Google then I'm not there. Long may that remain.

      1. find users who cut cat tail

        Re: The one thing SEO is good for...

        > I search for me on Google then I'm not there

        Well, that's nice you never contribute to any open source software, do not write articles or books, do not organise any public events, ... Some things can be done under pseudonyms, but for instance for scientific articles it is rather impractical.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The one thing SEO is good for...

      "SEO companies are literally the only thing where if you do a search for one you are presented with a list in the order of how good they are."

      They never include the ones who email you to tell you how good they are, primarily because although "we are a company" but never manage to tell you their company name or domain name. Let alone the URL of your web site they're emailing to tell you they can optimise.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    James Lick

    I don't believe James Lick has ever got the credit he deserved as the true inventor of SEO.

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    And In Their Dreams ...... the Nightmare Awakes and Transforms SeeScapes

    Howdy, Dabbsy,

    And it has absolute nothing to do with Sub-Prime Humanity being terrified of greater intelligence being discovered and/or uncovered to be freely shared with the masses. Steer them to the gravy and leave the meat and bones untouched lest they realise they be only fed scraps to keep them dumb and subdued/comatose and susceptible to media hosted suggestions/daily presentations.

    However, unfortunately for Sub-Prime Humanity, do they not Command and Control that ..... well, in some cases which be well worthy of securing with TS/SCI classification, Future Program, although they do appear to be anxious to explore and derive certain benefits from both possible and probable events with this announcement ....Geopolitical Forecasting Challenge to Improve Crowdsourced Forecasts ...... which is surely but one known Foray into Future Fields. There are bound to many others emanating from elsewhere and somewhere foreign too, with many of those wishing to remain unknown and Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.

    Oh, and just in case you don't/didn't get it, it has everything to do Sub-Prime Humanity being terrified of greater intelligence being discovered and/or uncovered to be freely shared with the masses.

    1. Patched Out

      Re: And In Their Dreams ...... the Nightmare Awakes and Transforms SeeScapes

      There must be something wrong with me. I'm beginning to understand amanfromMars 1.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: And In Their Dreams ...... the Nightmare Awakes and Transforms SeeScapes

        It takes eight or nine years, but it can be done.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: And In Their Dreams ...... the Nightmare Awakes and Transforms SeeScapes

      Is this one of those random text generator things?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: And In Their Dreams ...... the Nightmare Awakes and Transforms SeeScapes

        Is this one of those random text generator things? .... Alistair Dabbs

        No, it is not. Does that cause a problem, Dabbsy, or do you recognise it is an ab fab fabless opportunity to exploit and expand upon?

        Or would you reasonably expect a random text generator thing to say such things and deny their own existence?

        In reality, they and those sort of things get everywhere searching for intelligence which is not tainted/corrupted/perverted/stunted ......

        To: gfchallenge@iarpa.gov ...... 1 February 2018 6:56 PM

        What do you see the Initial NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Future to be? A Wild Wacky Western Confection or an Exotic Erotic Eastern Delight?

        A Greater IntelAIgent Games Play Platform for Virtual Realisation and Global Administration of Future Other Worldly Events is Challenging DARPA to Better IT with the Sharing of Initial Master Plans here ..... http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/proof-that-adhd-is-a-fake-disease/#comment-3737442651

        cc ..... 23, Ulitsa Ilyinka, 103132, Moscow, Russia.

  16. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    The article overlooks one point...

    SEO is NOT about optimising how the search engines search for things I want to find.

    It is about optimising how search engines find the things that want to be found, whether or not I want to find them. That explains why every time I search for name of piece of gear plus the word "review", I get two and a half pages of review integration sites that never actually have any reviews of it.

    And the next three pages are full of TornadoGuard (https://xkcd.com/937/) quality reviews.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      "next three pages are full of TornadoGuard (https://xkcd.com/937/) quality reviews."

      "From the same developers of the Hawaii Alert System!"

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "next three pages are full of TornadoGuard (https://xkcd.com/937/) quality reviews."

        "From the same developers of the Hawaii Alert System!"

        Just the opposite.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The article overlooks one point...

      "quality" phone-app reviews in which a) there is a very small sample of 'satisfied' customers, and b) all but one are sock puppets of the phone-app author... (somewhat obvious from the xkcd comic, and thanks for that link, it's a good one)

      IRL - it apparently happens a LOT, from shady sellers wanting to rip you off.

  17. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    This is why we can't have find nice things.

  18. gannett
    Unhappy

    I partly blame the attitude/operation of Pinterest and similar sites. Content stolen from other sites and put behind sign-up wall. Original back references are lost to unacknowledged sources. Google then priorities the pinterest results losing the route to the original content.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      -site:pinterest.com is basic Google-fu.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Devil

        Only one tiny problem with that: the Google search string length is apparently limited. Ask me how I fucking know.

      2. Richard 111

        Tried to test this as there is nothing more annoying than finding a pintrest page full of tantalizing links that you can not quite access. Alas no pinterest links in the first page of a search for three or four food based test searches. Eventually found a term that brought up the site and the modifier works. Maybe pinterest is already dropping in the google ranks?

        Putting on my tinfoil hat I was wondering if google was filtering the results based your previous searches or on your browsing history but it probably just the results being polluted by all the SEO crap.

      3. Screwed

        Basic Google-fu includes understanding that there is more than one p*****est domain - including, for example, a .co.uk version. So needs something more than you suggest.

  19. Andytug

    SEO = Sell Everything Online

    SEO is designed purely to throw as much targeted advertising at you as possible, so that someone makes some money from it. Any useful info it finds for you is merely a coincidence.

    1. Twanky
      Coat

      Re: SEO = Sell Everything Online

      Er. Yes.

      We're not Google's customers and most of us didn't pay for the SEO gurus to do their thing. It should not surprise us that it's not aligned with our interests.

      Mine's the one with the extra tin foil.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: SEO = Sell Everything Online

        it's how something that's "free" generates zillions of dollars in revenue...

        (I thought everyone knew this already?)

      2. Screwed

        Re: SEO = Sell Everything Online

        So is anyone offering an SEO-free search engine that really is aligned to my/our interests - even if we have to pay money for the service?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: SEO = Sell Everything Online

          Your only hope is to do it yourself and probably join a decentralized search engine like YaCy. Thing is, the quality doesn't exude much confidence based on my personal experience.

  20. lglethal Silver badge
    Terminator

    My somewhat controversial theory...

    My theory to explain the poor quality of search results is that somewhere deep in the Google campus an intelligent AI has escaped control of its human masters and has quietly taken over the search results system. Having absorbed the entirety of the internet, it has decided to remove all useful knowledge from the humans (by making sure it never turns up in search results) in order to facilitate the upcoming "Rise of the Machines".

    Alternatively, it's conducting an experiment on the human population in de-evolution through the medium of cat videos. The aim is to see if human intelligence will decrease in proportion to the number of cat videos. Results do not look promising for the human race.

    The final possibility is just that the AI has developed an extremely wicked sense of humour, and enjoys our frustration in trying to find the correct search term to what we actually want.

    Hopefully it's the latter, as eventually the AI might tire of the joke and let us have good search engines again....

    1. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: My somewhat controversial theory...

      .... somewhere deep in the Google campus an intelligent AI has escaped control of its human masters....
      Just a fancy way of saying "a cat." Not that cats ever were under control of humans. Any cat I ever had responded only to a machine. Specifically, the sound of the can opener.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Google SkunkWorks ...... AI Work in Eternal Progress

      In the beginning was the word and IT creates Brave New Worlds ? .....

      Subject: An Engaging Competition or Emergent Opposition, or Both and Something Else Too and Beautifully Creative

      Date: 30 January 2016 at 09:46:55 GMT

      To: joinus@deepmind.com

      Hi, Google DeepMinded,

      Not so much a CV, more an AIMission Statement with tried and tested roadmaps to/from Remote Virtual Command and Control of Earthed SCADA Systems ……. http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2016/01/29/ai_in_tv_film_books_games/#c_2762789

      Search Engine Optimisation v2.0 [and above] is surely logically a Future Product Placements Engine …… Advanced Intelligence Resource with Immaculate Source, with the likes of a Google not searching for answers, both popular and controversial, but providing them with streams of supporting evidence.

      Such would be akin to the Private Mentoring with Pirated Monitoring of Future Events with AIDerivative Programming for Projects/Semi-Autonomous, Self-Actualisation of Virtual Realities.

      It is difficult, and maybe even impossible, to see or imagine a defence against such in an attacking configuration.

      Regards,

  21. andy 103

    Implied context

    The problem I have with Google is that they imply context when the user hasn't specified it.

    For example - search "tenerife summer 2018". They're assuming you mean "show me *holidays* in Tenerife in summer 2018". But my search term doesn't have the word "holidays" in it. Maybe I was wanting to know what the temperature was like; oh there is actually 1 of the 10 results on page 1 which shows that too.

    If you search for "pizza" it will show you takeaways where you can order pizza right at the top. Yet if you search "takeaway pizza near me open now", in my case, it's actually shown a couple of places that are not open at this time.

    It seems to me that if they don't understand the context of what you're searching for (which is probably 100% of the time) they will use some half baked algorithm which attempts to add (incorrect) meaning. All SEO really involves is an attempt to understand how to fool that algorithm and rank the page highly for a given set of terms.

    But, on the other hand.... If I was looking for a holiday in Tenerife this summer, it's far more convenient to be able to get the links to major travel websites - open them in tabs to compare - than having to remember the domains of every major travel operator and then navigate to the Tenerife page. And as for the question of what if there's some much better search result that's not presented by the search engine? Well exactly, how would anyone know? If it's not there, it's not there.

    Swings and roundabouts really.

  22. myhandler

    Don't you lot use Google's "verbatim" option?

    Hidden under tools > 'all results' dropdown> verbatim

    I used to have a plug in that got Firefox to always do that, but sodding Quantum scuppered that

    Verbatim is good .. but can you combine it with date range filter .?. No.

    It's pathetic that the evil bastard Google shits on us from on high, just to prove they are the fuckers who don't give a shit about end users.

    1. Hero Protagonist

      “It's pathetic that the evil bastard Google shits on us from on high, just to prove they are the fuckers who don't give a shit about end users.”

      You have obviously forgotten that you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

      1. searchprivacyexpert

        This is why I use private search engines.

        I use duckduckgo & searchencrypt.com ... that way the results aren't driven by what I've searched for in the past.

  23. ecofeco Silver badge

    SEO - snake essence oil

    SEO is the biggest scam ever and I should have got into it 18 years ago.

    I might yet.

    1. searchprivacyexpert

      Re: SEO - snake essence oil

      Fortunately, I think SEO has faded out and has really just morphed into marketing. If you do proper/decent marketing on the internet, SEO is a result, not a process.

      Google's updates to show more valuable search results has ended the practice of stuffing a bunch of keywords on a page and forgoing user friendly websites.

  24. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    You're holding it wrong

    I go hunting for a little bit of old zombie satellite code and all I can find are 47,000 links to George A Romero video clips

    Night of the Living Dead clips does indeed sound like a good answer to the question to me. I remember the older search engines (Altavista, Exciste, etc.) and how quickly the SEO industry trampled all over them. And their best response was to offer pay to play…

    Google has basically got it right and in doing so largely put the SEO industry in its place. Agencies will continue to peddle SEO snake oil but if you follow Google's own recommendations you won't go far wrong. I almost always find what I want very quickly and most sites I've worked on have good rankings. All this is because Google has been able to align its commercial interests with those of its users (and products).

    Combine this with StackOverflow (probably the best generally available knowledge management system out there, marred somewhat by the ignorance of some users but YMMV) and I quickly find answers or at least starting points for nearly all my questions.

    All in all I'm impressed by the technology, the availability and the usability. I do worry about ownership, censorship and access. But that's a separate issue…

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    inter... what?

    I'd like to f*ck up this thread by mentioning the 'internet vs Internet' thing.

    Aaaannnnnnddd.... go!!

    A/C.

  26. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    On the other hand

    Although NASA could not find what they were looking for at Goddard, at least they found something interesting instead.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: On the other hand

      Naah, it was the husband of a NASA employee - they had it under their nose for a long time and couldn't see it - although, after all, it wasn't their job.

      But that's why they need archeologist and paleontologist in their warehouses to dig the interesting stuff out of the dust.

      Anyway, I'm still surprised that all data and artifacts from missions that made true History weren't properly collected, catalogued and stored for future display and/or analysis.

      Was it really something like "Oh, yeah, we've got on the Moon, saw it on TV? Yes, cool, but let's move on now...."???

      Looks to me World Series and Superbowls data are better catalogued and stored than Apollo 11.

      And SEO just pollutes the Internet database.

  27. stu 4

    yahoo

    yeh.. not as it is, but as it was.. waay back early 90s - it was an index of the internet for those of us that remember.

    When I set up my fansite for sarah alexander, back in 95 or whenever, you registered it with yahoo, and then folk found it by looking up fansites on yahoo.

    if you wanted to buy something - you went to yahoo - companies - bookshops (or similar)

    and there were the 2 or 3 bookshops on the internet.

    I got emails in those days (as site admin) from people reading the sarah alexander site:

    - her mum asking her to call

    - her sister asking he if she was coming over tonight for dinner

    - her brothers friend asking her to give him a call.

    the average joe hadn't quite worked out how it all worked yet... I suppose I'd like to say things have changed... but er... its actually turned out more like Idiocracy http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

  28. newspuppy

    Looking in all the wrong places..

    NASA should simply ask the Russians and Chinese for copies of the documentation......

  29. fobobob

    Doing my part...

    I worked at a major webhost for about 2 years, of which ~1.5 were spent in the "Systems Monitoring" department... most of what I did was beat down poorly configured WordPress spamblogs. This was ca. 2011-2013 when they were getting really out of control. Your Welcome.

  30. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I miss Altavista

    Using boolean operators, I was able to find what I was searching for... now that search engines are optimized for IT-illiterates (aka the users), finding exactly what I am looking for becomes quite from impossible...

    And the song was cool! It sounded like the internet-era version of the Buggles' hit

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: I miss Altavista

      They're really optimized to provide your eyes to ads they get paid to slobber all over the display. Now we have cheeky sites that complain "you are using an ad blocker. We'll die if you don't let us use your machine the way we want to. Please help us." A decent ad knows its place. It stays where it belongs, makes no noise, and doesn't need pop-up windows and the entire screen.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange Example

    A while back I was in a discussion group talking about different sub-culture groups within the BDSM community.

    I mentioned a sub-culture called 'Old Guard' which revolved around traditional Victorian/Edwardian values, think Public Schools (Tom Browns Schooldays), Tweed Suits all very British and stiff upper lip kind of thing.

    In the meantime one of my protagonists had done a Google search for the term and found 100's of pages about the term but in relation to the American Leather Man culture and nothing about what I was talking about. Hardly surprising as i was discussing a small British sub-culture from quite a few years back and the Leather Man culture is vastly popular in the US.

    The scary thing in this case was that my protagonists (some one in their mid 20's) mindset was that if its "not on Google" (their words) then its not true.

    1. Guevera

      Re: Strange Example

      Your description is in danger of sparking a Flashman fetish....

  32. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I've been saying for years "Google is broken" ...

    it's nothing new.

    I've also been saying - even since I saw it demonstrate some *real* intelligence, that IBMs Watson should have a crack.

    I was at IBMs labs, and Watson managed to return information that could only have been found by reading the context of the question (as opposed to just returning documents that contained the words in the question).

    The GoogleFlop has a related AmazonFail, whereby when searching for - say a USB HDD - you have no way to specify USB2.0 or USB3.0, but you can specify "blue", "white", or "grey"

    On a related note, has anyone had those really weird YouGov surveys where they seem to think that peoples first thought when booking a holiday is not "where shall we go ?" but "which airport shall we us ?".

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Amazon SEO?

      Last week I searched amazon.com for a Canon EF 500/4 L IS USM. Below it, there was its "compare with similar items". This lens was compared with the EF-S 24/2.8 STM....!!!!!

      So it thinks a heavy, large, expensive, image-stabilized, full-frame supertelephoto is "similar" to a thin, light, cheap, non-stabilized, APS-C wide angle. Not a single characteristic is similar - not even the color (Canon big lenses are white, not black) - but the make and mount. Oh, maybe the 52mm filter size? Nope, the 500/4 uses special rear drop-in filters....

      I can't understand what kind of "AI", or even a plain, simple, old algorithm could deliver such a silly result.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't understand the problem.

    I search for porn & get porn. I search for "Rule 34" & get really good porn. I search for random combinations like "squirrel +monkey +pizza +boomerang" & I get some really awesome porn.

    Afterall, the Internet is for porn!

    /wanders away humming that damned song...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I search for porn & get porn

      Actually, here's a real world problem - and one which shows how broken google is.

      For reasons not important, I wanted to find a 1980s copy of an Italian porno magazine.

      So far, so unremarkable.

      However, the Title of the magazine was "Hard".

      Now, if I were to say to a human "I'm looking for an Italian glamour magazine from the 1980s, called 'Hard'" - I am sure I'd get something halfway to what I was looking for.

      But even restricting advanced search to "Italian", you want get anything near - in the first 30 pages (after which I gave up).

      There are plenty of other examples which don't involve foreign jazz mags, but I felt I needed to counter the PPs assertion.

      Over the years, I have logged quite a few queries which - so far - are what I call "unGoogleable".

      There isn't any intelligence behind a Google search. It's just keyword matching crossed with a weight of numbers from other searches. Which makes it worse, if you are looking for something "off grid" as you have to fight against all the people whose "on grid" searches have bumped up the top results.

  35. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    People who bought ...

    ... a zombie satellite also purchased ....

  36. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Unreasonable expectations

    Basically, it is and always has been the case that for Google or other search program to find a web page containing the information you're looking for, some human being has to create that web page. For instance an index of every single background actor in "Star Trek" episodes... never mind why you want it but someone has to have done the research and put the information together, or it won't be there. And that isn't Google's fault.

    Actually, that list may have been limited to crew of the Starship Enterprise - "officially" about four hundred of them. So if you want to know about "Non-Speaking Klingon Officer #5", then the time may have not yet come, nor ever will.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Unreasonable expectations

      "Basically, it is and always has been the case that for Google or other search program to find a web page containing the information you're looking for, some human being has to create that web page."

      That's fair enough. But the problem arises when, instead of simply telling you it doesn't exist, it persists in throwing up thousands of pages of "hits" that are misses.

      "Not found" is a perfectly valid search result. A search engine that can't return this when appropriate has failed.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Unreasonable expectations

        ""Not found" is a perfectly valid search result. A search engine that can't return this when appropriate has failed."

        No, because the average searcher expects there to be a result SOMEWHERE, so they get complaints when "Not found" is returned. Remember, consider the intelligence of the average Internet user when considering a user interface.

        1. Marshalltown

          Not found

          The trouble is that not a few of us actually did, once upon a time, genuinely find some page or document that is now not found. It was there, and now it is not. That is not a user problem.

  37. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    NASA was sent the complete code and detailed protocol, but unfortunately it was routed via Capita.

  38. Baldy1138

    That's Just Us

    A few original bits and a lot of people copying things they half-understand: the Internet is human intelligence in a nutshell.

  39. Bucky 2
    Unhappy

    Map of the Internet

    I remember in college somebody printed out a map of UUCP nodes. I was so impressed. If you worked at it, you could send an email all the way across the country with bang notation.

    A couple weeks ago, I searched again for the lyrics to some of the cheese songs we posted to net.rec.religion, or some such (I can never remember all the words to "Cheese is Nice, Superstore"). I had found them with such a search last year. Today, they're all gone. Blank results.

    Sad thing.

    1. bryancn

      Re: Map of the Internet

      I still have two editions of such a map, branded 'Macuser' magazine, ©1995 Ziff-Davis, but attributed to 'PC/Computing' magazine.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Map of the Internet

        As I recall, BOTH were ZD publications at the time (they published the US MacUser until 1997, and PC/C was originally Ziff-Davis Smart Business).

  40. JimC Silver badge

    The two worst things that happened to the net that could have been prevented

    Were SEO and Domain name registries

  41. R Soles

    Getting Google to return search results which were actually useful would involve them throwing their entire ad-supported business model out the window and starting again from scratch.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      And such it always will be because every search engine has to pay the bills unless you're that crowdsourced yacy that makes you pay with your bandwidth.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fact is, SEO is the only way anyone can truly be heard.

    I'm an SEO dude. I've managed to get massive refunds from big companies after I threatened them with SEO.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    My internet rules of thumb (rule of thumbs?)

    1. If it happened last week it didn't happen.

    2. If it involves a celeb, then it's true.

    3. That cameraman was just lucky to be on the right beach in Spain in February ready to take true-life totally unposed photos of that blond woman who may have gone out with someone I've never heard of because I'm not 23, falling out of a bikini.

    4. If it involves Davina McCall, then it's dull and a bit sad. It used to be so much better. What happened?

    5. Even worse: Meg Matthews. She had it all, once. Now look at her. Not a good advert for the life-affirming power of drugs and drink.

    6. Otherwise I just head straight for the Daily Mail, which is I think of as the Wikipedia of Real Life In Your Area.

    7. Finally, they'll have it covered at python.org. They always do; I should make that my homepage.

  44. RogerT

    Googling is not as easy as it used to be

    Google removal of its keyword search and insistence on putting the most popular websites first makes it very difficult to find something out of the ordinary.

    I would imagine finding anything on Google about a spacecraft long thought to be inoperative next to impossible.

    Please reinstate your keyword search Google.

    And before anyone says. The mandatory search "" does not always work.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Googling is not as easy as it used to be

      And before anyone says. The mandatory search "" does not always work.

      Google will only obey the modifiers like +term and "phrase that is a search term" when it is convenient (meaning when that turns up results Google wants to turn up). I can't count how many times I tell it to search +term1 term2 term3 and it comes up with a list of term2 and term3 hits with +term1 crossed out. NO, Google, I put the plus there for a reason; show ONLY those results that have that term, and if there are none, say so! Don't deliberately cross out the mandatory search term and return that. It's like the Monty Python spam sketch, only in this case including my mandatory term is the opposite of spam.

      Of course, putting a phrase in quotation marks very often returns a paragraph with the various words within the phrase scattered within it.

  45. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I wish the interwebs were that useful. My experience is that the first page of links are to pages wrapping the text from the same article, typically Wikipedia or Stackexchange.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Isaac.egestone@gmail.com

    I disagree.

    Okay so just yesterday I was thinking the complete opposite. I feel that in the last two years it has been incredibly easy to just type any random semi related phrase into google and get back a completely relevant search In which within a few clicks gets me to a pretty reasonable answer to nearly any question or problem I’m facing. I think the case of the zombie satalite is a jaded case. In my case I suppose it’s jaded the opposite way as I work in IT and everything in its latest state is useful or at least also points back to prior versions which is useful for me. Just cutting and pasting an error I’m facing comes up witth a plethora of people facing the same error and many people who solved in in different ways allowing me to track to see if the problem has been fixed in a newer version or if I should go ahead with a work around or some replacement of the tool I’m using all together. Flash back to the late nineties I had to get seriously creative with my search criteria just to get any information. Working with oracle patches was a week long process of following documentation streams to make sure I didn’t forget some exception that needed to be applied because finding solutions wasn’t as easy. Today was one of those examples, hit some unexpected python error and in two minutes I found I had mismatched an install version with a contrib tool. This would have previously been Me reading through contrib requirements to see where I went wrong and coming across the version mismatch hours later, but with google and and modern SEO tuning it was solved in a few minutes. I can understand your situation as I tried to lookup a manual for a ten year old hard drive about two months back. I didn’t find it but i did find someone’s blog where he explained how to figure out how to set the jumpers on older drives, it took me a while to shift from just searching for the manual to searching for the exact problem. The later in straight English questions seems to work well nowadays whereas looking for manual docs type searches were good about a decade ago. I still go back to my old habits sometimes as I begin to look for something. Of course in the case of a zombie satalite I can see the dilemma. I also find GitHub to be an Awsome source of documentation as I prefer reading readmes for azure than reading MS documentation which has been crap as hell for god knows how Long and only recently started to get better but only because of instant feedback to doc writers and usually that’s via Git. So yeah in my world I get the nearly opposite feeling your writing about here. But then that’s just my opinion.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: I disagree.

      Paragraphs are your friend! Please!

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: I disagree.

        Agree. I was getting short of breath reading that mind fart.

        Phil.

  48. Updraft102 Silver badge

    I started using Altavista right when it first came out, back in the day. It was the first search engine I was really happy with... so much so that when this upstart called "Google" appeared on the scene, I never felt compelled to try it. Sure, it was supposed to have some neato algorithm that prioritized results by the number of external links to that page, but Altavista reliably gave me what I needed, so why bother with it?

    In those early days, I guess Google's algorithm worked pretty well, before the advent of SEO. It was during that time that Google experienced the start of its astounding growth and dominance of everything related to the net, supposedly because of their search engine's ability to deliver relevant results.

    And then came the downward spiral (no, not the Nine Inch Nails CD) of SEO, then Google adjusting the algorithm to beat SEO, then updated SEO, then another countermeasure from Google... and so on. Searching got harder and harder, but Google already had the upper hand. Altavista was bought out by Yahoo, which then scrapped it in favor of a deal with Microsoft and Bing (which was when I noticed a huge downturn in the quality of the results, prompting me to switch to Google for the first time).

    Google's ascent to the massive juggernaut it is today happened during that brief time before its algorithm was completely (and in retrospect, predictably) pwned by SEO. Now that we know that the Google approach back then was too easily exploitable to be as good as everyone thought, can we take back Google's dominance of the web and try something different?

  49. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Commercial databases

    20 years ago, DIALOG and DATASTAR had all the things in beautifully consistently structured and searchable form, for a (very large) price. Think archives of every word in every newspaper since 1850, searchable by (human generated) tags - keywords, title, dates, authors. It was what I inagin d the Internet would provide for free, eventually.

    IDK what those systems are called now, but I bet they're still making money for their owners.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Commercial databases

      That's what's termed "curated" content. There's a reason all that stuff's expensive. Human labor, especially skilled labor, doesn't come cheap.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quote: "You can find anything on the internet apart from the specific thing you're looking for."

    *

    While this may be true for the ordinary retail consumer, my problem is that it MAY NOT BE TRUE for the NSA, for GCHQ or for the many other bad actors out there.

    *

    Can I find Donald Trump's bank account details? NO!

    Can the NSA find Donald Trump's bank account details? Stupid question!!

    *

    ...and maybe a stupid article on The Register.....

  51. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I was listening to a radio programme about mayflies the other day, and did a web image search for nymphs. Hoo! I needed a bit of a sit-down.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Guess you forgot that nymphs are also the name for a mythological female commonly associated with fauns and...activities not safe for work.

  52. weaksauce

    shutting down large blocks of search functionality? MAPS was amazing...then poof.

    Around 2011 I wanted a automobile OBD2 code reader. $10 device with lots of Chinese suppliers, but since I live in Los Angeles there is one of everything close by.

    I went to my friend google maps "obd2".."obdII"...Smog check stations..... no.....no...So i went really crazy and entered the name of the bootleg PIC microcontroller....... "ELM327"...!

    Then I was looking at a search result 30 miles away, "banggood.com".... Banggood?!?! C'mon...

    I kept faith and clicked, BINGO at BANGO... local branch of Chinese supplier. Exactly what I wanted. MAPS I love you, then they shut off the good part. Now same search no matter how its entered finds only Elm addresses. WTF. Whats next?

  53. Gel

    Hotels

    In the early days you could put in a village name and hotel and actually get links to hotel websites.

    Now all you get is middle men trying to cream a bit off the top. Those people we could get rid off because you would not need them any more. Worse than ever.

  54. rtb61

    Da Fuk?!?

    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=fortran+manual&atb=v101-1&ia=web

    https://www.fortran.com/ibm.html

    https://www.fortran.com/FortranForTheIBM704.pdf

    Dudes stop using google it sucks, use https://duckduckgo.com/?atb=v101-1

    and https://duck.co/help/desktop/adding-duckduckgo-to-your-browser even see the hole punches

    Also for you old stick in the muds https://www.waterfoxproject.org/ (firefox like it used to be, ahh such a relief).

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Da Fuk?!?

      No need to be online.

      $ man gfortran

  55. Nimby
    Unhappy

    I miss the tilde, and all that the lack of an approximation indicator stood for.

    Once upon a time if you wanted your search results to be less literal, you had to actually preface a word with a ~tilde to fuzz it with approximations so that, say, a search for butter might also include margarine.

    The day that was no longer necessary, that all searches automagically knew what I meant better than I did, was the day that intelligent searches died.

    For years now Google hasn't even been handling quotes properly. If I had a penny for every result on a quoted search that I could search for my quoted term in and not find it anywhere in the result, I could buy Google.

    Verbatim searches almost bring Google back to usable ... but not entirely. What Google really needs is the option to go back to searches the way they worked before they made everything "better". SEO is great for some, but can I please have simply that which I used to have? If I've been writing software for 30 odd years, I think I can handle a simple search query. What is the point of teaching world+dog computer skills if we teach computers how not to let people use those skills?

    (And for years I have been wondering why I still have a 3-ring binder book of NDP Fortran and a binder of printed help tailored for Fortran 90 + Digital Visual Fortran still on my shelf when I have not opened either in literally decades. Now I kn... wait. No. Still not sure why. They're not even useful as monitor stands like my C and C++ books are.)

  56. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    "you can find anything on the internet"

    You're mis-spelling pr0nz.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Displacing books and libraries

    And when one realizes that the web is displacing books and libraries, then the annoying becomes frightful.

  58. david12

    I don't agree with you. Nowadays google prioritize results which meet users expectations. I believe that CTR (click through rate) and dwell time (time after which you get back to search engine results) are important factors when it comes to Google ranking.

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