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Topic: 'At Right Angles' - a journal from India
Replies: 14   Last Post: Jan 8, 2013 12:50 PM

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Posts: 8,846
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: 'At Right Angles' - a journal from India
Posted: Jan 7, 2013 2:08 PM
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Lou Talman Posted: Jan 7, 2013 1:17 PM

[Haim to MPG]
>> are saying that if you use different search
>> arguments you get different results? Huh! I will have
>> to ponder this for a while.

>Even the order of words can sometimes make a difference.

Is that a bug or a feature? I think it is a feature, and I frequently feed my search arguments to google in the order of what I think is the most important to least important search characteristics, rather than in the natural order of English syntax, precisely to influence in my favor what is still the best search algorithm in the business. Much as I try to use other search engines, I get consistently better results from Google than from, say, Bing or

However, what is most fascinating in this little episode is the weltanschauung that must be echoing in MPG's head. So, I gave the precise string of search arguments I used and reported 470,000 mostly relevant google hits. MPG introduces quotes and a verb---evidently on the theory that quotes and extra words do not matter to the search algorithms---and obtains radically different results. Ie, he does a different search, gets different results, mirabile dictu, and concludes..."Google must work differently in the People's Republic of Brooklyn." What response can one make to this?

>But it's worse than that. Google remembers what you've
>searched in the past, and it tailors what it presents
>you to what you've looked for previously. So different
>people may get different results from the same search.

For most people most of the time, this is probably a wonderful feature, one that is easy enough to defeat. For obvious reasons, I like to clear my browser cache with some regularity, anyway. But, where are we going with this, Lou? Are we really going to base education policy on somebody's misunderstanding of the simple-minded behavior of a search engine? Never mind that MPG thinks "old hat" means "widespread use",

old hat
1. old-fashioned; dated.

2. trite from having long been used or known.

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