Google hits increases guess ratio?

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jul 28 13:49:07 UTC 2011

"Mugwort" is actually on the Wikipedia page for garlic -- it's just
hidden. Expand the "herbs and spices" box at the bottom of the page,
then expand the "herbs" box, and you'll see it listed there.


On Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 3:28 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
> Citing Google hits is common in discussing frequency, particularly for a rough approximation of occurrence or relative frequency of occurrence. Googles raw numbers have long been known to be inaccurate, but recently I have found a startling number of irrelevant hits.
> For example, just now, a search on
> +mugwort +"nutritional information"
> turned up, which does not contain the word "mugwort."
> My experience in the past has been that adding the plus sign ensures Googles guesses will be suppressed (except for misspellings), but it appears they have decided to up the guess ratio.
> I have never done a study, so I could be off, but I commonly do quite a few searches every day, which have become more difficult recently due to what appears to be serious changes in the algorithm.
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA
Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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