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XKCD Inadvertently Causes Googlebomb 221

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the first-rule-of-googlebombs-is-don't-talk-about-googlebombs dept.
MrCopilot writes "As I noted yesterday (and was joined by many others)... in an offhand observation xkcd has singlehandedly changed a small section of the Internet. Changing the results from a Google search for "Died in a Blogging Accident" from 2 to (at this writing) over 7,170 in a little more than 24 hours." If you aren't reading xkcd, you're missing out.
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XKCD Inadvertently Causes Googlebomb

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  • by ShadowMarth (870657) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:02AM (#22013874)
    Not that I don't love XKCD, but is this really /.-worthy? Oh well. Still, awesome, and each post only serves to compound the results!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:07AM (#22013914)
      Yes! What are you, some kind of heathen?
    • by teslar (706653) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:11AM (#22013932)
      Heresy. Anything related to one of the sites which are lucky enough to earn their own link on the main page of /. is always /.-worthy.

      Also, the concept that observing any property of the internet within the internet can affect that property is interesting. If the choice is between reflecting on that or finishing that bloody piece of code I'm writing, I'll take the former, even if it may ultimately be pointless ;)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Isn't that the Uncertainty Principle [wikipedia.org]? It certainly would be cool if it was proved this could be applied to the Web or the so-called "Blogosphere".
        • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:26AM (#22015144) Journal
          No, you're confusing the Uncertainty Principle with the Observer Effect [wikipedia.org].

          "The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is also frequently confused with the "observer effect". The uncertainty principle actually describes how precisely we may measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time -- if we increase the precision in measuring one quantity, we are forced to lose precision in measuring the other. Thus, the uncertainty principle deals with measurement, and not observation. The idea that the Uncertainty Principle is caused by disturbance (and hence by observation) is not considered to be valid by some, although it was extant in the early years of quantum mechanics, and is often repeated in popular treatments."
        • You cannot prove the uncertainly principle (the quantum physics one)

          The uncertainty principle cannot be applied to the Web or the `blogosphere': it can only be applied to particles in the quantum scale.

          We already have waaay too many people `applying' Gödel's theorem or Heisenberg principle to things these do not apply. Please do not add yourself to the list.

      • by Arimus (198136) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:20AM (#22013982)

        "Also, the concept that observing any property of the internet within the internet can affect that property is interesting. If the choice is between reflecting on that or finishing that bloody piece of code I'm writing, I'll take the former, even if it may ultimately be pointless ;)"
        Sir,
        I must formally give you notice that you are to hand over immediately to the appropriate authorities your geek license and your /. account.
        Nothing should ever come between a geek and his code.

        (well other than pizza and coffee - but that tends to be more between the geek and the keyboard if they're messy eaters)

        • Nothing should ever come between a geek and his code.
          (well other than pizza and coffee ...)
          Or your mom.
           
      • by El Yanqui (1111145) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:05AM (#22014310) Homepage
        Also, the concept that observing any property of the internet within the internet can affect that property is interesting.

        No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!
    • by Goaway (82658)
      Indeed it is not. This kind of shit happens constantly, and it's not newsworthy just because a site you liked did it. Hell, xkcd has done far cooler things than a pathetic little change in the number google hits for a funny phrase.
    • by SNR monkey (1021747) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:39PM (#22015880)
      There seem to be a lot of xkcd readers here which makes it all the more surprising that someone has not pointed out that if you replace "blog" with "blag" (as xkcd is often inclined to do - "News/Blag") in the search "Died in a blogging accident", you get exactly two results. Just like the comic depicts.

      Of course, now that I've posted this, people will probably go crazy running up its ranking too.
    • by aztektum (170569) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @02:18PM (#22017116)
      clicky [xkcd.com]
      • by dkleinsc (563838)
        Of course, the true fun of this is that your link is now +5 (Insightful).
      • OK, while we're here and on-topic, who here hasn't experienced this effect on Slashdot? I know I have, I know friends who have, and I've read posts about the perception of Slashdot going downhill, but I haven't actually heard anyone speak out against this effect. So, if you're out there, this is a perfect time to speak up.
        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
          As the alt text says, "Fun game: try to post a YouTube comment so stupid that people realize you must be joking. (Hint: this is impossible)"

          Don't worry, it's a very big hill we're sliding down, and we're like a glacier compared to most sites.
  • by saibot834 (1061528) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:07AM (#22013912) Homepage
    You probably change Google's result for "Died in a Blogging Accident" more than xkcd did.
  • by arigram (1202657) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:10AM (#22013922) Homepage
    Considering that many people around the world have been prosecuted for their blogs, imprisoned, tortured and maybe even killed, it is not just humor, its a terrifying fact.
  • Never understood why my friends spam me so much, they must find it funny.

    It appears that humour is viral.

  • by pikine (771084) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:12AM (#22013934) Journal
    So apparently he didn't make it, and I'm making this nth post on behalf of the would-be first poster.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Mikkeles (698461)
      'Your search - "died in a coding accident" - did not match any documents.'
      so I'm safe :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by maxwell demon (590494)
        I guess you just killed your safety. Surely Google will soon pick up your comment, thus making coding accidents more dangerous.
      • by GaryOlson (737642)
        Your search - "died in a meeting accident" - did not match any documents.

        Damn, and I was looking for a good excuse to avoid the weekly systems meeting.

      • by Zugok (17194)

        'Your search - "died in a coding accident" - did not match any documents.'


        Your search - "died in a slashdotting accident" - did not match any documents.
        Ah, it was a myth all along!!
      • by jc42 (318812)
        At this moment in time, there's exactly one google match for "died in a barbecue accident". And also for "died in a haircut accident".

        There's gotta be a lot more ...

      • Well, people certainly don't die from coding, unless you count failing to reproduce...
  • Practical idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mapkinase (958129) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:31AM (#22014062) Homepage Journal
    Jews write "G-d" instead of "God". It's their thing.

    May be we should try to write in metaquotes about google searches, modifying quoted search phrases...
    • Yeah, I don't get that one myself. Is God really a proper name? I thought his name was Jehovah (or some other translation). That's like saying my name is Human.
      • by Valdrax (32670)
        It is and isn't a proper name. God has many names, all of which should be treated with respect, though the tetragrammaton is supposedly his "true" name. The prohibition on "taking the Lord's name in vain" is observed quite diligently by many Jews to the point that even a word of indirection (liked "God") is not invoked casually.
  • That's no bomb (Score:5, Informative)

    by JackHoffman (1033824) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:33AM (#22014080)
    A Googlebomb is when a page becomes associated with an unfitting search term which doesn't appear on the page itself. This effect is caused when many website authors place misnamed links to that page, usually in an intentional and coordinated manner.
  • I count 'em 250.000 at this moment in time. The Internet is stupid that way...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Nope, still around 6500. Try adding quotes to your search query.
      • Right you are, eccept it's 8130. I stand corrected. For now :D
  • I'm Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smackenzie (912024) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:39AM (#22014114)
    I've read every TFA link in the post, but I'm not sure I understand what is going on.

    1. What is the true definition of a Google Bomb? Are we confusing this with Google Washing?

    2. Why is this incident a Google Bomb?

    3. What makes this particular incident Slashdot newsworthy?

    I think this might be a funny scenario -- but I don't get it!? Thanks for the info.
    • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:54AM (#22014236) Homepage Journal
      It's a form of Black Hat search engine optimization, in which you destroy a competitor's website. The way it's done is to set up a link farm of your own, but with every page pointing at your competitor's site. Eventually Google and the other search engine operators discover the link farm, but assume that your competitor put it there, and remove it from the index.

      Thus they tell me at webmasterworld.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:11AM (#22014360)
        That's not how it works. When Google recognizes a link farm, it discounts the effect of these links. The result is that the link farm no longer contributes positively to the page rank of the target page, but it does not penalize the target page beyond that. Google has punished sites for shady search engine optimization, but in those cases the sites had always used on-site techniques which could not have been performed by an outsider. Anyway, if that spamming technique could kick other sites out of the Google index, it would be called a "Joe job" (in analogy to the false flag email attack.)

        A Google bomb is when many people link to a page and use the same unfitting link text, and then the target page moves UP in the rankings for that particular search term.
        • by ben there... (946946) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:15PM (#22015644) Journal

          Google has punished sites for shady search engine optimization, but in those cases the sites had always used on-site techniques which could not have been performed by an outsider.
          Google does penalize for duplicate content. For example, if you setup your domain to have the same content on http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] and http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] a mirror rather than a redirect (notice the www. is a redirect here). It also penalizes content such as wiki-type content that gets mirrored in several sites around the web. Some webmasters have studied the effect of someone plagiarizing their content in this way and causing that effect. Though obviously their experiments couldn't have been very controlled.

          A Google bomb is when many people link to a page and use the same unfitting link text, and then the target page moves UP in the rankings for that particular search term.
          I agree with you there. It's the only usage I've ever heard of the term. Such as "miserable failure" [google.com]. The first hit for that search used to be Bush's biography at whitehouse.gov [whitehouse.gov], until the articles about the phenomenon itself pushed it down. Google likely fine-tuned their algorithm sometime along the way as well.
      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:18PM (#22019496)
        Why does everyone assume that this behaviour by SEOs is *bad*? It's Google's algorithm that's got problems with corner cases, and they have zero incentive to fix the flaws in it if everyone just blames the internet users.

        Does a google bomb affect *every* search engine? No. It affects *one* search engine with a lot of clout.

        Does a google bomb involve illegal hacking of google's servers? No. It involves creating links on people's own damn blogs and websites.

        It's sad that people buy the moral victimization that Google's marketing has come up with. This idea that people on the web shouldn't be allowed full free speech, because it's "bad" to write anything they want in case it causes headaches for Google's engineers. At best, it's fanboyism gone wild.

        A search engine should reflect what's out there, period. If a lot of blogs link to one site, a search engine should reflect that. If it causes trouble to their algorithm, they should fix their algorithm. But above all, it's not Google's job to tell people that what they're doing on the web is morally "bad".

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by arkhan_jg (618674)
          SEO IS bad for users of search engines. It means that when I search for something, I don't get relevant links to what I asked for, but instead some spammers latest scam.
          This applies to all search engines gamed by SEO users, not just google.

          You also forget, commercial speech is not protected speech under free speech laws. SEO Advertising is NOT free speech, it's an attempt to subvert the normal function of the web for commercial advantage of a particular user. I'm not required to read it, and neither is goog
      • It's a form of Black Hat search engine optimization, in which you destroy a competitor's website. The way it's done is to set up a link farm of your own, but with every page pointing at your competitor's site. Eventually Google and the other search engine operators discover the link farm, but assume that your competitor put it there, and remove it from the index.

        Thus they tell me at webmasterworld.

        I've never seen it used that way until now. There really isn't an authoritative source on what it means, but I'

    • by matt me (850665)
      Slashdot, we know xkcd. If we read it, then we've already heard your story about katanas, ninja students or googlemooting. If we don't read it, then we don't find your story funny. Either way, posting this article is neither amusing nor newsworthy. Keep slashdot to stuff that matters.
    • One of the most famous google bombs was against microsoft. :)

      In November 1999 Google users typing in the search string 'more evil than Satan himself' were given Microsoft as the top result.
      http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2126159/msn-search-brands-google-evil-satan
  • I take exception (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yurka (468420) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:48AM (#22014184) Homepage
    to "inadvertently". You have no reason to assume that the author is not smart enough to have foreseen (and even counted on) this effect.

    Actually, I take a separate exception to "inadvertantly".
    • by langelgjm (860756)

      You have no reason to assume that the author is not smart enough to have foreseen (and even counted on) this effect.

      Don't be rediculous.

      • Re:I take exception (Score:4, Interesting)

        by x_MeRLiN_x (935994) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @11:43AM (#22015326) Homepage
        I don't follow XKDC, but it didn't take me long to find out this has happened before.

        This comic [xkcd.com] spawned a whole different type of [art|softcore pornography] [wetriffs.com]. If you accept the warning and scroll to the bottom you'll see proof of how wrong you are. If you're thinking that these events aren't the same because WetRiffs and XKCD are apparently operated by the same person, you should see that thousands [google.co.uk] did mention WetRiffs on their web log.

        By the way, 33% of your post was misspelt.
        • by langelgjm (860756)

          By the way, 33% of your post was misspelt.

          Clearly, you missed the joke. And, I do follow XKCD, and am well aware of the exploits it often spawns, many of which are covered here.

  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:21AM (#22014462)
    My wife showed me the "killed in a knitting accident" part, which was causing much mayhem in the ravelry [ravelry.com] knitting and crochet site.
    • by Qzukk (229616)
      And now there's a ton of hits for knitting fatalities too.

      I wonder what the two hits for "Died in a Blogging Accident" were before all of this started?
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:23AM (#22014484) Homepage Journal
    Do we really need to repeat "Died in a Blogging Accident" for nth time? I mean how many times do we need to state that someone "Died in a Blogging Accident"?

    Anyhow, this was another xkcd comic that had its effect: http://xkcd.com/305/ [xkcd.com]
  • But I just took xkcd's word for it
  • "died in a computer accident" - 1 result.
  • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:33AM (#22014580)
    What I find most interesting is now, after the "Googlebomb" try looking at some of the links that come up. More than half in the first few pages are the scum-sucking lowlife advertising sites. Clearly what they're doing is monitoring the "hot Google searches" and then googlepimping© their own sites to match those searches. Everybody knows this is going on, but the efficiency at which these people monitored Google searches, noticed that a particular search was popular, then got their own sites listed really surprises and frightens me. Google is fundamentally broken.
    • by Yetihehe (971185)
      Yeah, just because it is not possible now to fight such overuses of google, it is fundamentally broken.
    • by Animats (122034)

      More than half in the first few pages are the scum-sucking lowlife advertising sites. Clearly what they're doing is monitoring the "hot Google searches" and then googlepimping© their own sites to match those searches.

      Searching for phrases in news stories sometimes brings up bottom-feeder ad sites. Take a headline from The Register, search it in Google, and see what comes back. I noticed this a few days ago when we got a writeup in The Register, and the bottom-feeder ad sites not only ranked abov

    • Be more unique with your queries, then.
  • Died in a * accident (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kasperd (592156) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:40AM (#22014648) Homepage Journal
    Google will actually let you search for Died in a * accident [google.com]. If you do so you can see what words people put in there. Right now the fourth result is actually "Died in a blogging accident" (right after three car accidents). I have used that to find out what might be the missing word in other sentences like Grab your * and double click [google.com] or Either you are with us or you are with the * [google.com]. Even more interesting if combined with the - operator to filter [google.com] out the obvious possibilities.
  • by ckedge (192996) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:52AM (#22014760) Journal
    It's because of this:

          http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/01/11/china.blogger/index.html [cnn.com]

    and also this:

          http://www.digg.com/world_news/Blogger_Beaten_to_Death_in_China_for_Filming_Argument [digg.com] ..where someone point out that "xkcd's coming wasn't quite so funny any more" but did not provide a direct link.

    I can't believe I'm the first one to point this out!
    • by Impeesa (763920)
      For what it's worth, I (like many others) searched it while there were still only the two matches. Both were references to the same Myspace post [myspace.com]. I don't think anything relating to the incident you mention would describe it as an 'accident.'
    • by rakslice (90330)
      Here's hoping China chills out a bit.

      http://xkcd.com/340/ [xkcd.com]
  • Not that this is really Slashdot-worthy, but... Who am I to decide what may or may not be worthy for this site.

    Anyway, the actual number of results is far less.
    Looking at Google right now, it shows "about 8,300" for the "died in a blogging accident" search.
    However, actually going through and looking at the real number (skip to the end of the list, show all results, skip to the end again) and the results are much smaller.

    Before enabling all references, there are a mere 243 results. Displaying all results, in
  • The amount of energy you spend studying a thing, changes a thing. Who knew this would apply to Google? Apparently Google must use quantum computers.

  • Original Results (Score:3, Informative)

    by pgn674 (995941) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @01:25PM (#22016484) Homepage
    I think I found the original 2 results of the search, when the number of results was still down at 12. Both results pointed to this blog: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=59755147&blogID=106406778 [myspace.com]
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @02:00PM (#22016888)

    In a off hand observation xkcd has single handedly changed a small section of the internet.

    Oh my God, they changed the face of the Internet! (actually they mean the Web, not the Internet as a whole, sigh). Here, let me change a (smaller) "section of the Internet" :

    Died in a trolling accident.

    Right now, doesn't return any result. And now [google.com]? OMG I did it! I has teh pawar ovar tah Intarwebs!

  • So, if I googled for "died in a blogging accident" I would find a lot of blogs commenting this one comic that is related to "dying in a blogging accident", hey' the system works.
  • by exhilaration (587191) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:38PM (#22019682)
    Damn it, why hasn't anyone asked what the original two results were? Is it even possible to get that information anymore?
  • This reminds me of google hacking, the method of using google to search for things that aren't supposed to be displayed on the web, such as passwords, credit card #s or social security numbers. First, you research what strings to look for. Then you type those strings into google. But all you get back are all of the "google hacking" sites that suggest you look for that string.
  • Not a googlebomb (Score:3, Informative)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @04:52AM (#22023472) Homepage
    Yay incorrect use of terminology. This is not a GoogleBomb [wikipedia.org]

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