Why is searching on the web so retarded?

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Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:48 am

This is something that has been bugging me for all eternity. It doesn't matter what tool I search with - Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Youtube and forum searches - they all suffer from the same problem that they try to be 'helpful' and extend the search to nearly matching terms and omitting short words and lots and lots of other dilution of the search query.

And not a single tool has a working "search for the exact word" option! Why is it that it's impossible to do really targeted searches on the internet at all?
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Rachael » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:17 am

Honestly I blame Google for that. When your search results come up empty, it tries to refine and tweak your query until it gets some. And ever since they started using the "AI" it's gotten worse.

It used to be with Google that you could just put things in quotes to get exact results but I think that doesn't even work anymore now.

And DuckDuckGo is just a bastardized version of Google that essentially uses them anyway, just anonymously so that your IP and cookies aren't sent to Google with the query. That way the search results you get are the same as what everyone else gets and they aren't personalized for you.

As for Bing... well they're Google wannabes so they just do whatever Google does.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:03 am

DuckDuckGo doesn't use Google. The one that acts as a filter is Startpage. DuckDuckGo's results are distinctly different from what Google returns.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby drfrag » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:30 am

You could try using quotation marks: "exact phrase".
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Graf Zahl » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:05 am

If that actually worked... On most forum software and Youtube it surely doesn't, they still search for similar words and "helpfully" extend the search result.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby gramps » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:15 am

It's really annoying.

Here's an interesting experiment: Try searching "bud big" -- you'll get pages and pages of "big bud" with no "bud big" in sight. You'd think the words "bud big" had never appeared on the web in that order.

But try searching "bud big red" - suddenly you'll see "Bud Big Red Box 24," "my best Bud Big Red," and so on.

I guess the lesson here is maybe you can add some words and get something closer to what you're actually trying to search for, if you're lucky enough to have some more words to add. It would really be nice if some search engine would put the "exact search" feature back in, but as far as I can tell they've all ditched it for now.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Ichor » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:34 am

What exactly are you trying to find?

Also, if you're having "big bud" problems, you could add that (with the quotations) in the 'none of these words:' window and it should filter that particular phase out and all you would get is "bud big".
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby gramps » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:48 am

Yeah, "bud big" -"big bud" is about the best you can do about the word transposition thing. It does work alright in some cases. I think some advertisers use this approach to try to get their adwords to be exactly the phrase they want, instead of unordered jumbles of words.

One problem is when you've got more than two words, you need to exclude every possible transposition.

The other problem is if you're searching for "blue green red" and the page says something like, "Unlike most red green blue ordered formats, this format uses blue green red order..." then you're out of luck.

Of course, that's just word transposition; if your search includes a symbol or something you're basically just screwed. Then there's also the annoying synonym-swapping thing ("dumb search" -> "stupid find"), but that might actually be safe from "exact search" so far.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby kodi » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:47 am

I remember when you could write expressions in Google like
+"some thing" - "other thing"
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Caligari87 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:10 pm

kodi wrote:I remember when you could write expressions in Google like
+"some thing" - "other thing"

You still can. Example Query.

TBH I've never really had a problem with this. If Google negates your "exact search in quotations" it's because it legitimately couldn't find that result, meaning usually that it hasn't indexed whatever page you think it might be on. Rare but it happens. For example, this topic we're in hasn't been indexed yet.

Also Google's Advanced Search is still a thing: https://www.google.com/advanced_search
As are search operators: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/2466433

8-)
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby kodi » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:07 pm

My bad. What they removed is the + operator.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby NeuralStunner » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:45 pm

Omitting short/common words could also be a matter of databasing issues. I believe phpBB in particular will start refusing such words once the forum reaches a certain site, because it becomes a massive slowdown.

What bothers me most is "searching instead for..." when what you typed is not really misspelled and you can get the results you want by forcing an exact-phrase search. It's non-optional autocorrect, but more dumber.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Caligari87 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:48 pm

The plus operator isn't necessary anyway since all search terms are included. If you don't want the search to also use related words, enclose the word you want in quotes.

8-)
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby Enjay » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:43 pm

I too have noticed this problem, and increasingly so over the last year or thereabouts. I have always hated it when programs try to second guess what I am trying to do because they rarely seem to get it right and, in the case of searches like those being discussed, can actually provide a barrier to what I am looking for. I can't count the number of times I have looked at some google (or whoever) search results and thought "nope, that's not what I was looking for" and it's because google is assuming for me. So I start wondering how I can reconfigure my search to work around google's assumptions.

And often the advised operators or enclosing things in quotes seem to be ignored, returning very similar results to what I got the first time.
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Re: Why is searching on the web so retarded?

Postby NeuralStunner » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:08 pm

While DuckDuckGo is somewhat guilty of this, at least it's very transparent about what it's doing.

(StartPage has its own problems, such as sticking their own sponsored results almost imperceptibly into searches. I had to make a userscript to hide that stuff, which always made me sad.)
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