Search Engine (Google) Question

Discussion in 'Computer Science & Culture' started by Tiassa, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    34,668
    Yeah, well, okay, this part didn't quite occur to me until, well, just now.

    Is it possible to spike a search result or the web page it points to so that a specific query returns a deliberate result that is actually irrelevant to the query itself?

    Work with me here, please, because I just never encountered something like this before.

    I have a .pdf dictionary translating a particular language into English. While spoken by millions of people, it is not a language we would consider a driver of the human endeavor like English, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, &c. It is a fairly limited dictionary composed by missionaries focusing on the Gospel of Mark and "Cox Grammar", which in turn appears to be lessons designed for missionaries to teach others how to read and speak the English language while also proselytizing the Bible.

    It was the first of these dictionaries I found; there aren't many available.

    The introductory notes remind that the other language in the translating dictionary is tonal, and suggests one necessarily requires the assistance of a local in order to learn pronunciation. It was that word, though, indicating a person of this community, that turned me to Google. As it turns out, the word does not refer to a title within the community, but, rather, is the identification people use to describe an individual of the culture. Works for me; I just wanted to be certain.

    But along the way, something strange happened.

    I searched the word itself, and as you might expect the return brought me a plethora of sites in a language I don't speak or read. So I added the word definition.

    The first entry of the return was, of course, a dictionary. Merriam-Webster, to be exact.

    The word I was searching for does not appear on that M-W page; it does not appear on the cache copy.

    The word I sought begins with the letter M.

    The first search result was Merriam-Webster's definition for the word "scum".

    These two words only come together amid ethnic tension.

    It is exceptionally unlikely, but not impossible, that the word I sought ever appeared on this page of Merriam-Webster.com.

    I don't really want to know the method; we ought not propagate such information.

    However, the question remains: Is it possible?

    SEO is one thing. But the word isn't on the page, and likely never was.

    Is it possible to spike either the search engine or the page in order to create this result?

    I figure the answer is yes, but I have to ask because it seems nearly unbelievable.

    Then again, history suggests such animosity is possible.
     
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  3. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    Your description is confusing. What was the word involved?
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes and no.

    It was all the rage a decade ago. It's called Google-bombing.

    Google has taken great pains to make it virtually impossible to do nowadays.

    Short answer: in principle it is possible. In practice, no.

    Like Moon Hoax impossible.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    The crux of the issue is described here:

    The word I sought begins with the letter M.
    The first search result was Merriam-Webster's definition for the word "scum".
    These two words only come together amid ethnic tension.

    It's not entirely relevant what the word is, Tiassa is simply asking if it possible to essentially Google-bomb the M-word with references to "scum". Is that accurate Tiassa?
     
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    34,668
    May the People Forgive Me

    In truth, the slap in the face was so shocking―I didn't think the world had this kind of surprise for my conscience left in it―I preferred trying to slip around an incredibly ugly issue with words.

    That is to say, the image contained in the spoiler is ... disgusting, inflammatory, and to a certain degree even frightening. No, seriously, people kill and die over this.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    Reading through a dictionary, I hit the word "Munyarwanda"; there were two general possibilities, and one of those was correct. The word is simply the singular expression of cultural identity. One might say, "I am Munyarwanda".

    It was that or a term describing a specific station or office within the community, such as elder, shaman, &c.

    But I didn't know, so I did the first obvious thing, which was to search the word. That didn't turn up a useful result, since I don't yet actually read Kinyarwanda. (I'm considering learning a language, which started as a joke, but now I find myself at least halfway committed to the idea; unfortunately, the joke has expanded to include three languages, so I really need to stop and think about how seriously I'm taking the proposition.)

    Searching the term munyarwanda brought me a bunch of pages in Kinyarwanda.

    So I searched munyarwanda definition, and the image above is what came back.

    Frankly, I am so appalled I can't think straight: How did this happen?

    Indeed, I'm so rattled I can't figure out just how to email Google to ask what's up; nor can I formulate the polite note I should send Merriam-Webster simply advising them of this outcome.

    It is virtually impossible that this is an accident.

    (It was always my understanding that for SEO-bombing, one needed a hook on the page being pushed; I don't know if it's possible to bury something in the header or meta and have the search engine pick it up, and it really is hard to think anyone at M-W would actually do so intentionally. "Munyarwanda" does not appear on the M-W page; it does not appear in the cache copy; it seems unlikely that it would have rolled through on a rotating link―e.g. Word of the Day, Related Links, &c.―in such a fashion as to push this particular page to the top of the Google return for those seeking a definition of the word "Munyarwanda". But compared to my understanding of the "average" Google bomb, as such, I don't get how this one would work.)

    But that return is incredibly dangerous.
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Wow. That sure does look like a Google bomb.

    I have no doubt that reporting it to Google would result in it being remedied immediately. That, they can do. And they would be very thankful for the heads up.

    In fact, it probably already happened.

    Same thing happens with Wikipedia. Nothing stops anyone from posting any kind of nonsense. Their defense is not to prevent them, but to ensure they get discovered and removed immediately.
     
  10. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    I tried to google your words, got the same result!
     
  11. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    ...seems to be an affirmation for using ANY OTHER search engine!!!
    There are search engines available for use that actually AID in any search for information or knowledge...
    ...instead of attempting to CONTROL any search for information or knowledge...
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    That might be true of the search engine had anything to do with it. But the issue is at the source - the references in content that ALL search engines use to find results.

    So I gotta ask: What exactly makes you think other search engines are any different?
     
  13. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    ...I do not "think"...I know!
    If you were to try out some different search engines you would find out that they are, indeed, different!

    Try typing " munyarwanda definition " into a couple of different search engines and see if the results are the same as Tiassa Posted in Post #5...
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I do not think you know either.

    Different is not the same as better.
     
  15. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    Great, DaveC426913, you begin your statement by bragging about what you "do not" do.
    Oddly, you seem to only be trying to ARGUE FOR ARGUMENTS SAKE...because in the following statement you seem to AGREE that search engines are DIFFERENT...which is what I already KNEW.

    DaveC426913, in your Post #9, you asked me directly : "What exactly makes you think other search engines are any different?"
    I gave you my Honest answer. If you were to try what I proffered in my Post #10, you would find that what I stated about the results being different, was correct.
    I never stated, claimed or implied in any way that "Different is the same as better".

    It seems to me that you are simply trying to ARGUE with YOURSELF.

    Sorry, DaveC426913, but I humbly request that you "Play your games" with the other Members of this Forum that choose to engage in such...
     
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Let's see what that looks like.

    You come in with an inflammatory comment designed to elicit a reaction:
    Then make vague damning reference to some conspiracy of controlling information:
    While claiming you are the knowledge-holder of such a secret:
    'Argument' is the gentle word for it. The internet has invented a more apt term.


    But since we're agreed that neither of us wants to derail Taissa's post by arguing, let's erase the sidebar back up to post 7.
    Carry on y'all.
     
  18. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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    ...
     

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