Look What The Search Engines Dragged In!

from the how-Google-turned-us-into-a-porn-site dept

A month ago, we had a post called Naked Women And Wireless Security, which I started out by noting: “Yes, I’m a bit worried about what kind of people will find this post via Google in a few days…” Apparently, I was right to be worried. Someone posted a comment saying that we were the #2 result on Google for naked women (we’re number 4 as of this posting). In checking over Techdirt’s traffic logs, we realized that we were getting a lot of traffic from that search… and also from MSN where it turns out we’re (as of this posting) the number one search for naked women.

As a few of us here were chuckling over the somewhat random influx of confused search engine driven visitors, someone dropped us a bit of feedback reminding us of an old post where we mentioned the various oddities we saw in people who found specific stories via Google, and asked us to revisit the subject. Like many sites, obviously, we get a fair amount of traffic from search engines (mainly Google) on completely random searches. Many of the people who visit are (I assume) well meaning — but confused to the nature of what they’ve stumbled on. Perhaps it’s an interface issue on our part, but the ensuing comments and conversations are often amusing.

The all time record holder, which keeps getting updated is this conversation (mostly of people who are not well meaning) from 1999 on someone who was stealing AOL passwords. It appears that somewhere (no idea where) there’s a search that people are doing on how to steal AOL passwords, and they’re driven to this particular posting — which now has a ridiculously long comment thread from clueless folks trying to break into AOL accounts, and a bunch of scammers trying to steal their AOL passwords back. Then, there’s the VPR Matrix support thread. When Best Buy announced their own computer line under the VPR Matrix brand name, we were skeptical. However, our post made it to Google, and people apparently began to think that it was the VPR Matrix support/fan forums. We also had a brief claim to fame in 1999 when the first news was leaked that CBS was going to have a show called Survivor. For a while, we were the top result on Lycos (which was still popular then) for “CBS Survivor” leading people to try to get on the show by posting comments right here at Techdirt. Another popular one (and I don’t know how people are finding this one) is a story we had from 2000 about some random dot com millionaire who planned to give away millions to educational causes in Central America. For some reason, people who are down and out on their luck have found this page and continually comment (there were two comments yesterday, even) begging for money from this guy — as if he was reading the forum. This particular posting has also resulted in a number of random emails (no explanation included) to Techdirt’s feedback line, explaining horrible life stories and begging for money. While we’d love to help people out, we’re not dot com millionaires, and aren’t really in a position to make much of a difference.

Anyway, this is all a nice little reminder that the various search engines are still far from perfect when it comes to understanding what people are really searching for. In the meantime though, it provides us a bit of amusement, as we ponder what people searching for porn must think as they stumble upon Techdirt.

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Comments on “Look What The Search Engines Dragged In!”

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Chris (user link) says:

No Subject Given

A friend did a blog post a couple of years ago on his day in the audience for the Maury Popvich show. He has an amazingly long comment thread of people that think he is Maury and are asking for money, help, to be a guest on the show, etc. It’s hilarious.

For a long time I was ranked highly for Ozzy Osbournes email address, and I received a constant flood of email asking for his private email address.

Like I would share it evcen if I did have it!

Mattb says:

Re: Re: some funny posts

I used to feel a stigma on the net when I was with AOL for a little bit back in ’94, but this just goes to show you that, yes, AOL is a service for idiots. No, not all are idiots- I’m not of course 🙂 (don’t ask my wife), but AOL is good at attracting idiots and keeping them there. This isn’t just about being naive when it comes to computers or the net, this is about people with no common sense. People this dumb must pepper the web with a ton of illogical messages and crap looking for stuff.

At least it’s good for a laugh…

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

Hah Hah...or perhaps accurate?

Mike, this is one of your funniest entries in a very long time. However on a more serious note, you observe,

Anyway, this is all a nice little reminder that the various search engines are still far from perfect when it comes to understanding what people are really searching for.

Perhaps that’s not true? People search for a mere mention of a term, then post something plaintive and irrelevant seemingly without reading the object of the search! In a way their post is no different than a prayer uttered silently in the dark. Hence the search engines are sending them somewhere useful (to the searcher, I mean), and sending the err, more careful or selective searchers to the places they want to go. For example, had you not written this entry I would never have seen those funny threads (of course I’m not trying to break into AOL accounts either)

Looked at that way, the search engines are smarter than they might appear.

Uri says:

How did I get here?

I came here looking forward to naked women telling me how to break AOL passwords. I’m really disappointed.

On the “praying in the dark” issue, I suggest Google offer a new service, “Google Prayers” (pray.google.com) . You just get a text box to type whatever is on your heart, and then your message turns up… somewhere on the Net, in a tech support forum for VoIP programs, or a karaoke mailing list, or a helicopter pilot’s blog. Just so you know someone might read it.

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