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Finding Friends Via Search Query Analysis 190

prostoalex writes "How many times have you met an interesting person, who happened to check out the same book in the library, or listen to the same music as you do? Researchers from University of Chicago suggest that it would be kinda cool if you could find like-minded people by analyzing the queries submitted to a Web search engine. Their PDF paper explains the research in more detail."
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Finding Friends Via Search Query Analysis

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  • Bob? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpanishInquisition ( 127269 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:46PM (#5980455) Homepage Journal
    Is that you?
  • Hi, I er found you by monitoring your searching habits, what food you eat, and what shops you go to....

    What, no I'm not a stalker...

    What do you mean.... Hello?... Hello?

  • Um... ya (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OpMindFck ( 204177 ) <> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:50PM (#5980471) Homepage
    So, if the government or a corporation tracks an individuals surfing habits, it's bad. If we do it to get a date, it's good.
    Perhaps I'm missing something.
  • What about referers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CoolQ ( 31072 ) <`quentins' `at' `'> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:51PM (#5980480) Homepage
    Forget about search queries, what about referers? I've met a lot of interesting people by looking at the referrer logs for my blog/website, and following them back to their blogs. I've even met some of them in person after talking to them online.

    Talk about coincidence... I met someone <wink wink> less than 50 miles from me, who linked to an obscure page on my web site.
  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:51PM (#5980482)
    Direct marketers have been compiling this sort of information for years. From it they know that I'd like to increase various body parts, want a mortgage, need septic tank service, enjoy RC cars, and would like to meet other people and animals. Works flawlessly!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:53PM (#5980489)

  • same yet different (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pres ( 34668 ) * on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:53PM (#5980493)
    The real problem is friends aren't necessary pope with the same interests. Rather it is the combination of similarities and differences that make a successfully friendship. While this might get you started I am not sure it will be that successful.
    • by brakk ( 93385 )
      I agree completely. I don't have that much in common with most of my friends. It's usually one or two similar interests that got us together, but after that we like totally different things.

      I don't think I could be friends with someone just like me.
    • Amen, brother! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by swb ( 14022 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @03:56PM (#5981338)
      Amen brother!

      I work in a pretty small IT shop and I'm the only one that does what I do, the rest have other specialties. When I'm in situations where I'm immersed in other IT people like myself I always remark on how much I *dislike* those people, even though we share a lot of the same interests.

      I find the same thing to be true in a lot of areas -- a lot of the people that I find that like X I don't like, even though we both like X.

      The people I do like and spend time with have more subtle and abstract similarities from a personality perspective, and in ordinary ways are quite different from me, which is usually a good thing.

      I find what interests me in people is uniqueness of perspective and depth of feeling. People with John Q. Public opinions and no feeling about them don't turn me on. People that feel passionately about something unusual I find fascinating, even if I find their opinions unappealing.

      I'm familiar with someone who embraces a lot of pretty scary far-right attitudes on politics, race, and so on, but he's capable of explaining them in an intelligent and thoughtful way. At the end of the day I disagree with him, but I still think he's very interesting.

      • I find the same thing to be true in a lot of areas -- a lot of the people that I find that like X I don't like, even though we both like X.

        Well, geez. What's not to like? Network transparency? Established standards? Everybody likes X. Except these guys [].

    • aren't necessary pope

      Pardon my ignorance, but what the fuck does that mean, when translated into English?

      I genuinely don't get the argot.
  • Nooo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:53PM (#5980494) Homepage Journal
    This will result in every porno watching person from perverts to pedophiles to unite into one large and dangerous organization.

    Also privacy, spam, etc. Don't want one guy who looked for porn one time to get sucked into 10 porn mailing lists or anything like that.
    • This will result in every porno watching person from perverts to pedophiles to unite into one large and dangerous organization.
      Here, let me fix your post:
      This will result in every porno watching person from perverts to pedophiles to unite into one large and easily identifiable organization.

      I think that arresting the perverts and pedos can only be a Good Thing [tm]; don't you?

      • Re:Nooo (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JohnFluxx ( 413620 )
        Er no.
        Since when was being a pervert necessarily an illegal thing?
        For that matter, neither is being a pedophile - since the definition according to is someone who is _attracted_ to a child or children. It's not illegal to be, just illegal to not resist the urges.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:54PM (#5980495) Journal
    Finding somebody just like me? Fuck No! I can't even stand one of me.
  • by ChrisTower ( 122297 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:56PM (#5980505) Homepage
    I remember the days before the internet when people actually spoke to each other. I'm fairly sure that conversation is far more effective than analyzing search patterns and much faster too. Don't forget that the shortest distance between you and that person's bed is a straight so stop trying to hack their personality.

    Of course, this is only a suggestion and nothing that I'd actually do myself; I'm more the stalker type.
    • That's like saying that in the days before the internet people used to read to find out information, so stop using google and read instead.
  • AudioScrobbler (Score:5, Informative)

    by mgaiman ( 151782 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:57PM (#5980511) Homepage
    What about AudioScrobbler []? They use the music that you listen to and compare it to the music other people listen to. They then find people with similar music tastes to you, and then you can expand your tastes by looking at what they listen to.

    (see my audioscrobbler []>
    • But...if these people have similar tastes to you, then you're listening to the same kinds of music as before, right? They need a service that takes what kind of music you hear too much of, then forces you to listen to something completely different, to make you expand your horizons. Kind of like a TMBG / NWA* exchange program.

      *insert current group that's popular with the urban kids today.
    • See, but the problem with that aite (at least its OSX incarnation) is that it ranks your preferences by number of tracks, not play count, so if you have a Glenn Gould album with 40 tracks and 1 play, it'll beat out a disc of 5 tracks and 30 plays. Doesn't make sense.

    • by mdfst13 ( 664665 )
      Yeah, but can you sleep with them? That seems to be more along the point of this article.

      Lots of sites use the old Firefly technology or something similar to project what you might like by comparing you to other people who currently have similar tastes. actually allows you to rate products that they recommend if you already own them. This gives them even more information to try to guess stuff they could sell you.
  • by cqpalzm ( 564996 ) <> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:58PM (#5980514) Homepage
    Oh that would turn out just great- you'd have people seeing anything related to girls, technology, Trek, or sex and people would be jumping "they're my soulmate!" probably only likely to find someone a little too much like them (male, lonely, looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in new search-based interfaces).
    • Yes, but only if you pursue a real relationship! If it's an internet relationship you can just both pretend you're horny 18 year old lesbians and everyone's ok.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @12:58PM (#5980518)
    Now I know that I am not a pervert for constantly googling for lesbian pr0n, I'm a member of a community of friends. I feel so loved.
  • Sounds like computerized dating services to me. you would think they would have died out, but no, theyve only gotten more automated and flashier.

    if computers could make babies, id just want a computer dating server. beautiful full tower looking for same cpu mate. contact mw at

  • by rumpledstiltskin ( 528544 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:01PM (#5980529) Homepage Journal
    This sounds like it could be fun/interesting, except there are obvious privacy implications, including, of course, spammers blanketing searches for products, etc. and then trying to contact people who are legitimately using the service. As always, the rule of thumb is to surf anonymously.
    • I think it could be done safely if you followed the style model, where non-anonymous contact information is only provided after both parties agree to do so -- before that, it would be anonymous messaging only. (or something like that)
  • what I always wanted was a blind date with another heterosexual guy interested three ways with supermodel lesbians
  • I know that some geeks are anti-social, but must we resort to using search engines to find friends? ;-)
  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:06PM (#5980555) Homepage
    Not the best way to find a new best friend I think, but if you wanted to commit a crime that needed accomplices it would be a lot easier to find like-minded individuals whose real names you wouldn't know.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just search for the other person that's searching for people's searching habits.
  • by joshv ( 13017 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:06PM (#5980557)
    I am not sure I'd want to meet the other people that are searching for "Horny coed sex slaves" [].

  • Search: "Porn + Jedi + Tux + Fuck RIAA + down ashcruft"

    Results : 120323000 unique results

    Identical members mapping: 23,00300 []

  • by teklob ( 650327 )
    How is this any better than joining an IRC channel or a messageboard on the topic you are interested in? Rather than finding people who typed your interest into a search engine, just go on dalnet or something and type /list yourinterest
  • porn? (Score:4, Funny)

    by mrmag00 ( 200868 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:15PM (#5980597) Journal
    I can imagine one big group of male, aged 13 to 21, made friends by this system due to the common porn interest.
    • Ha! I'm 24 and i'm finally able to afford the internet connection and the hard drives to satisfy my... ehem... research needs. Those 120Gb Hard Drives sure earned their name...
  • Zero times. (Score:2, Funny)

    by lahosken ( 24108 )
    "How many times have you met an interesting person, who happened to check out the same book in the library, or listen to the same music as you do?"
    Zero. Is that unusual?
    • I don't think it's so unusual. Almost nobody I know likes the TV shows, movies, and music I like. Few like the games I like. It's to the point that I have almost completely stopped making any recommendations of any sort.

      Then again, I don't meet very many people. Maybe I just need to get out more and find folks that do have similar interests. Although, I wonder if they'd be as terribly boring as I am. ;)
    • "How many times have you met an interesting person, who happened to check out the same book in the library, or listen to the same music as you do?"

      Zero times so far. But every day I set my stool in front of that book and watch it to see if someone will check it out. The librarian made me turn off my music, so nobody else listens to the same music as I do.

  • by muscleman706 ( 654133 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:27PM (#5980642) Homepage
    There's a site called [] which lets you keep track of what dvds, games, cds, and books you own, then see what your friends own and it lets you create sharing networks between yourself and friends and people you know.
    The relevancy here is that because your collection is in the site's database, you have the ability to find other people with similiar interests and those can be narrowed down to people local to you (close to a certain postal code). It even lets you find like minded people based on what school you go to.
  • What if you could do the reverse, and given a person's name and shit, retrieve their browser cache? Hmmm...
  • "Opposites attract..."
  • Researching to sell products results in better competition in business because they can offer more of what someone needs and less crap that they don't. Researching unsuspecting prospective friends/mates/victims is creepy. It would be alright if you were actively signing up for something (like a dating service or a find-a-friend service), but if this is a tactic that sites are going to just automatically enroll you in and anyone can get the results: count me out. It's just creepy!!
  • Naked Fishing Lady (Score:3, Interesting)

    by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:44PM (#5980722) Homepage Journal
    There used to be a "search voyeur" CGI that would show you the searches that were recently performed on some search engine or another. It was fun to watch, but was sometimes frustrating. You'd see someone search for "Japanese women" and you would want to edit their search and do "Japanese women +naked" because you knew that's what they really wanted, but were too newb to do it right.

    Then, there would be the guy who would search for "Windows sucks Linux roolz" and you'd wish you could start chatting with him.

    But finally I made my own website, and now I can search the referrer logs (hint: grep for "?query=" b/c it seems a pretty common referrer string) for funny searches. My favourite was someone searching for pictures of naked women fishing. Is there some popular naked women fishing fetish out there or something? I'd never heard of it. But the searches kept bringing up my pages, and people kept clicking through.
  • Interests are common everywhere, but in places where most people are pretty much the same, this can be an important tool for meeting new and interesting folks who are as much like you.

    I would like to see a web sight that is much the same, but with a "Hot-or-Not" option to help find girls that I like.
  • somewhere (Score:2, Redundant)

    a million stalkers rejoice

    attractive women everywhere weep

    as if this is a good thing

    anonymity is much beter than anything this tech can do
  • by evil_mojo_jojo ( 554131 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @01:47PM (#5980735)
    Yet another money making opportunity for Google. :-)

    Of course, I really don't want to meet the woman who's doing the same kind of searches I do... ewww.
  • Most of my interests or on-line. Most people who type search queries related to those interests will find my website. Thus, most IP addresses in my web server log should be useful.

    And for those without a website, or a shitty one, there's [].

    Funny how scientist think it would be cool do something we've all be doing for years already.
  • by Duck_Taffy ( 551144 ) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [ohyenehc]> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @02:04PM (#5980808)
    This idea is rather like something that's already available on LiveJournal []. Users have the option to list anywhere up to 100 interests. You can then search for people who have a specific interest listed (it brings up both people and communities), but even better is if you're a paid member - you can search for people who share the highest number of common interests. The only down-side is that sometimes when you find a really cool person, their journal will have been inactive for a year or two.
  • by seangw ( 454819 ) * <seangw.seangw@com> on Saturday May 17, 2003 @02:04PM (#5980809) Homepage
    Friends would look for the same subject matter.

    If you're looking for a date you should search for opposite subject matter.

    Imagine typing:

    "Hot 20yo blond chick"

    and getting matched up with others looking for the same thing?

    You'd want to type "geeky nerd with a slightly smelly pile in the back of his room". Bound to find a soulmate if someone matches up with that...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I remember filling out a 10+ page plus form to find a "like minded person" to room with freshman year. What a crock. So this is some big revelation?!?
    • Let's say that you match 100% with student A, and less than 80% with everybody else. Somebody else also matches 100% with student A and 80% or less with everybody else. Who gets to room with student A? Or, another way to look at it: you have 3 perfect matches, but only two can fit in a room. Somebody has to be left out in the cold. I also suspect that whatever the college used to match room-mates was something less than optimal. No doubt, those forms were scrupulously analyzed by the same highly dedi

  • by tetro ( 545711 )
    Giving up privacy for some sex, very nice.
  • Sadly, I'm not joking here.

    It's a kind of interesting site to meet people and it shows how you are connected to others on the site through your friends.

    Friendster [] tells you what city someone lives in and lists some favorite books, movies tv shows etc.

    So far there are only 3 Canadians on friendster, but there are lots from Tulsa OK.

  • All the major IM clients already do this.
    Newsgroups, mailing lists, book clubs,

    All of them are opt-in sort of communities and are just fine for meeting like minded people and trolls. The only advantage another system has is if it's involuntary, which sucks.

    Time to set up those off shore anonymous remailers and dust off my foil hat. I'm first in line for
  • Sounds to me like a great and easy way for the government to make "friends" with political dissidents or suspected criminals of any nature.
  • by totierne ( 56891 ) on Saturday May 17, 2003 @02:29PM (#5980895) Homepage Journal
    Is there scope in the market for a non sex based matchmaking service, a 'FindPeer' service to encourage one on one peer (or coach or mentor) based short relationships? I did a rough spec and []
    wiki page on such a service but at 10 hits from google in 4 months maybe it is not worth more investigation without more marketing!

    Most newsgroups and slashdot items seldom lead to interesting one on one discussion except perhaps for aggressive self opinionated 'experts' (allegedly).

    FYI I may have time for some one on one discussion but not necessarily to join an open source programming project, and the local linux group does not seem approachable enough for this purpose. Also the peer development may not necessarily be in the computing field.

    Signed a meek want-to-be peer developed with 10 years developer experience.
  • Bugsy Brown....

    But seriously, the only people I'll be stuck meeting are ones who can't spell :(
  • Do you really want to hang out with people with exactly the same interests? To me, being a sheep has never looked hugely attractive, even leaving aside the words "lamb chops".

    I'm fortunate to work and live with a group of people with whom I have just enough interests in common. And, despite the obsolete sexism and general lack of PC, I rather liked Ogden Nash's observation that it didn't hurt for husband and wife to be a little incompatible, provided he had income and she was pattable. How do we analyse for

  • If you have a blog and want to find like-minded bloggers try out BlogMatcher []. There are a lot of blogs out there and most of them are terribly boring. This tool helps narrow down the blogoshpere to those blogs that have some of the same links as your blog.
  • I have the impression this was featured on Slashdot a few months ago already. I think someone proposed to use the Slashdot friend/foe system in a similar fashion.
  • How many times have you met an interesting person, who happened to check out the same book in the library, or listen to the same music as you do?

    Eh, to be precise: NEVER!

    I meet people in a number of ways, but not by my shopping habits (unless you count beer). Can anyone seriously say that they have met a friend by choosing the same item in a shop (or library, etc...)

    Researchers from University of Chicago suggest that it would be kinda cool if you could find like-minded people by analyzing the queries

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin