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Google's Strange Spelling Suggestion  (View post)

Yoav Ezer [PersonRank 1]

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
15 years ago6,713 views

Also happens for 'Red blooded african'

shortshire [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

That is a little bit odd because I thought google was pretty proficient on their spelling up until now. Maybe google could be switching one of their spelling functions and the word got mixed up but i'll see what other words get mixed up.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Well, Google has scaling in mind, so their algorithm apparently doesn't use just a dictionary, I think it looks at how often certain words or phrases appear on web pages. That's why when you enter "blogooscoped" you'll get a spelling suggestion, even though "blogoscoped" is hardly found in any dictionary...

Krishna Kumar [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #


african ingenuity returns 880K results
african astronaut returns 850K results

But the latter does not offer a suggestion.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Krishna: phrase search is the key here, you must use the words in quotes.

Ethan Bradford [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

On the other side, "african idiot" suggests "american idiot".

Jesse Dubay [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Ha ha. The bold and italics in this context almost seems like a scolding.

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

[put at-character here]Ethan: Whew! I was starting to think that Google had hired a racist on their team, considering the Google results for Martin Luther King and this recent bit of news. ;)

(That was sarcasm, in case you didn't catch it.)

Matt Claypotch [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

Google simply keeps track of common word groupings, and if your query is close to one of them, they suggest it. "American Ingenuity" is a rather common expression ("Google's success is an example of American ingenuity at work"). It appears in 220,000 results. "African Ingenuity"? 824 results.

Yes, sometimes their automated algorithms produce results that seem odd. However, I don't expect, nor should anyone expect, Google to be keeping their eye out for every fringe case and odd situation that their system creates.

[put at-character here]Ethan: of course, "American Idiot" is the name of a popular Green Day song, hence why it comes up as a suggestion.

Peter [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

'Unfortunate'? From the guy who posts pictures of young arrested females to gawk at and humiliate them even more?


Andrew Hitchcock [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

While not a spelling correction, if you search for [dick cheney company], it returns some inline results and says:

See results for: halliburton

I was trying to see who Halliburton owns (so I don't accidently apply for a job at one of their companies) and Google was nice enough to suggest the company I was looking for.

Mike Empuria [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

I can only duplicate it if I look at (I live in Spain) but can't see it from or Strange.

It is "unfortunate" and there will be some who will get upset. Why it happens has been explained in the comments but do you think it will be something that Google should address?

Elias Kai [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

Are you searching for African ? why not try americans.
Funny, there is more weired suggestions or did you mean ones.

Sometimes in swedish language, when you type some english words related to p oker, google give you the famous | did you mean po rn ?

Totally uncontrolled automated robots with nothing related to any semantic performed scenarios.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

> On the other side, "african idiot" suggests "american idiot".

I can't reproduce this on (from Germany)...

Hmm. Neither can I reproduce the [african ingenuity] spellchecking anymore...

> Why it happens has been explained in the comments but
> do you think it will be something that Google should
> address?

Only if it reveals a general problem, i.e. if it has a scaleable solution. Fixing this single correction would be useless & wrong (as it would turn to be political moderation), I believe. But maybe it reveals a larger problem – we'd have to know how Google exactly implemented their spell-checker. As an example, it may be possible that the treshold of 0.36% (or absolute values: 777 for "african ingenuity" vs 216000 for "american ingenuity") is too low. Another example: it may be that the 216000 results for "american ingenuity" come from a too-tight sites network (= too interlinked to be considered truly diverse resources). It may also be the case that the percentage of people actually clicking on the particular "did you mean?" link is too low, so that Google needs to adjust this treshold. But really these are blind guesses, as I don't know how they do their spellchecking...

David Hetfield [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

<< On the other side, "african idiot" suggests "american idiot".

I can't reproduce this on (from Germany)... >>

me neither,
but try Africa idiot Philipp ;

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

15 years ago #

> Neither can I reproduce the [african ingenuity] spellchecking anymore...

Maybe Google's public relations department wields more power than their algorithms department?

dummyspots [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

A??rican ingenuity, A??rican Pie, A??rican Idiot, A??rican Idol, A??rican Revolution, ... the list goes on and on, and in actual usage, the letters "ME" appear in these phrases a zillion times for each time the letter "F" does.

Taken separately, Google would never suggest the word "American" for the word "African". It is, of course, the context of the PHRASE which causes Google to suggest the word "American" as a part of that phrase, and to suggest anything else would be to make the "suggestor algorithm" less accurate.

I do note, however, that the Goog folks have already "fixed" this "problem." Unfortunately, in their effort to cater to political correctness, they have sacrificed accuracy, and created an entirely new set of problems dealing with their now-observable inconsistency --- To the Google PC Police: Please note that a search for "South America Johannesburg" returns 31 results, and therefore by the same token you should remove the suggestion of "Did you mean: South AFRICA Johannesburg." Just because that one returns 562,000 results, by virtue of the "African Ingenuity" argument the relevance of the word within the phrase shouldn't matter, no?

BlackSir [PersonRank 1]

15 years ago #

There was a funny story with google-dot-ru about two month ago. On the any search with Russian word "отвоевался" (means "One have fought a lot") google-dot-ru suggested: “Maybe you mean – довыебывался” (means "One have fucked yourself up", obscene language). Google fixed it about week later.

Story in English, for example, here:

In Russian here: http://news2-dot-ru/story.php?story_id=13890 (replace -dot- with real dots, since dot-ru blocked for some reason)

Amon Terzijn [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

Try African stupidity: no American suggestion!

tatiana [PersonRank 0]

15 years ago #

that's funny but when i typed the keyword. i was never asked that question :)

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