Google effectively ends objective searches

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 30 02:41:59 UTC 2011

Thanks to Mark Mandel and Ben Zimmer for raising this issue.

I use a different browser to perform baseline searches. This browser
is always signed-out and has customization disabled.  Baseline
searches allow for some degree of replicability within a time-window.
Baseline searches also are useful if you have a blog, and you wish to
know how much "Google juice" you have.

Note, I am using the term "baseline" instead of "objective". Firefox,
Chrome, and Internet Explorer are "different browsers" in the
description above.

On Sun, May 29, 2011 at 8:33 PM, Ben Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Google effectively ends objective searches
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Have you tried adding the parameter "&pws=0" to the search URL?
> --bgz
> On Sun, May 29, 2011 at 8:05 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:
>> I've just found out (how far behind am I?) that Google Search no longer
>> offers "See the results of this search without customization based on your
>> search history".
>> I've entered the following comment in a Google Forum
>> thread<>
>> :
>> =====
>> I am a researcher and I need reproducible results. Used to be, I could click
>> to see "Results without personalization based on your web history". I could
>> post something based on what I found, and my colleagues could do the same
>> search and get the same results (plus whatever changes might have occurred
>> between my search and theirs).
>> Now you have made it, in practice, impossible to get an objective,
>> decustomized search<>
>> :
>> -----
>> > Google sometimes customizes your search results based on your past search
>> > activity on Google. This customization includes searches you've done and
>> > results you've clicked. Since personalized search treats signed-in and
>> > signed-out users differently, the instructions for turning off search
>> > history personalization are a little different in each case.
>> >
>> > Signed in searches
>> > To disable history-based search customizations while signed in, you'll need
>> > to remove Web History from your Google Account. You can also choose to
>> > remove individual items. Note that removing this service deletes all your
>> > old searches from Web History.
>> >
>> > Signed out searches
>> > If you aren't signed in to a Google Account, your search experience will be
>> > customized based on past search information linked to a cookie on your
>> > browser. To disable these types of customizations, follow these steps:
>> >    1. In the top right corner of the search results page, click the gear
>> > icon gear icon, then select Web History.
>> >    2. On the resulting page, click Disable customizations based on search
>> > activity.(Because this preference is stored in a cookie, it'll affect anyone
>> > else who uses the same browser and computer as you).
>> >
>> > Or, if you'd rather just delete the current cookie storing searches from
>> > your browser and start fresh, clear your browser's cookies.
>> >
>> > Note: If you've disabled search customizations, you'll need to disable it
>> > again after clearing your browser cookies; clearing your Google cookie turns
>> > on history-based customizations.
>> >
>> -----
>> And I'd have to do this EVERY TIME I wanted an objective search. Meanwhile
>> I'd be unable to have a custom search, which is also useful. (Except, of
>> course, for a search miscustomized to only what I've seen since the last
>> time I ran through all that.)
>> See also this help forum
>> post<>from
>> another user, who has evidently seen the same Pariser post on "filter
>> bubbles<>"
>> that a friend just sent to me.
>> =====
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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