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Search engine Easter eggs (from TBTF for 1999-10-05)

13
HonestJohn
07-02-2008
11:57 AM ET (US)
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12
Michael O'Connor Clarke
10-13-1999
01:52 PM ET (US)
Here's an interesting, presumably accidental not-quite-Easter Egg at the amazon.com search engine.

Type: "who is jeff bezos" (no quotes) into the search field and you get taken to one hit - an item listing for zShops with a $240,000 price tag.

Which is all you need to know, really -

Q: Who is Jeff Bezos?
A: Just a regular nork whose main differentiator is his ability to come up with a simple idea like zNames and make himself $2 billion richer in one day.
11
Dennis Doughty
10-07-1999
10:29 AM ET (US)
This is not quite an easter egg (it's more a personal
amusement), but as you can see Lycos producers sometimes have too much time on their hands. On Lycos, try "joel's new house".
10
Michael Skeggs
10-07-1999
03:17 AM ET (US)
Seeing Danny from Need To Know has already replied, I'm surprised he didn't mention the Jeeves egg. At ask.com type:
is jeeves gay?
9
James Moyer
10-07-1999
01:01 AM ET (US)
When I first searched for "evil web site" with Yahoo/Inktomi, I would get the Microsoft web site as the first choice, now I get Nintendo.com and Paramount.com as the first two results. I wonder how many anti-Nintendo and Paramount sites there are to cause this to occur?
8
Keith Dawson
10-06-1999
09:14 AM ET (US)
** Michael **
>Just wait until the pundits get hold of those.
Thanks, one just did.

You remember the Operating System Sucks / Rules 'o' Meter
right?

http://tbtf.com/archive/1998-04-20.html#s08
http://electriclichen.com/linux/srom_trans.gif
7
Janne Moren
10-06-1999
05:40 AM ET (US)
I don't really think search engines can afford having easter eggs on their sites; the lawsuit argument below is a good example of why. Too many people would be pissed off if the link was handcrafted.

As for easter eggs in 'ordinary' software, I think it can be really cute (like the taxi in the Palm, for instance, or al lightweight presentation of the programming team), but when an already bloated and buggy application turns out to have a hidden flight sim, I tend to get somewhat irate; is it absolutely impossible for them to use those resources to fix a few of the more common bugs?

/Janne
6
Michael Moncur
10-06-1999
04:27 AM ET (US)
Another thought just occurred to me: this is a misinformed lawsuit waiting to happen.

Just wait until some commission-hungry lawyer discovers that typing "bad customer service" returns Symantec's customer service page. "Worst computer" returns a link to Compaq. "Worst operating system" and "worst browser" link to Microsoft (of course). "Worst bookstore" links to Amazon.com (as does "best bookstore".)

One last proof that this isn't an easter egg: the first link returned when you type "best search engine" is www.altavista.com.

It is an interesting measure of the gestalt of the web's opinions...

-- mgm <at> starlingtech.com
5
Michael Moncur
10-06-1999
04:09 AM ET (US)
Agreed. I tried paring down the phrase. "More evil than Satan" brings up Microsoft's page, but so does simply "more evil" or "some evil" or "vaguely evil" or "not evil" or even "Bill's fun house".

In the interest of equal time, "blue evil" returns Apple Computer as the first listing. (The first iMacs were blue, right?) "computer evil" produces a list that includes Microsoft, Apple, and Compaq.

This is all quite amusing, but it's not an easter egg.

Agreed, they're apparently cataloging by the text people use in links. That's why "real operating system" or "best operating system" returns www.linux.org on top. Just wait until the pundits get hold of those.

Random note: Google's search field appears to IE5 as the same as Alta Vista's. So if you type a term into Alta Vista, then start typing it into Google, IE5 will auto-complete it for you.

All in all, a great search engine.
4
scottlr@hotmail.com
10-06-1999
03:35 AM ET (US)
This is an interesting topic by itself: search phrases that don't feel like they have anything to do with the results to the searcher. This is unlikely to happen with a traditional indexing engine, but is much more likely when the search engine ends up being a reputation manager.
3
sergent@io.com
10-06-1999
03:20 AM ET (US)
Agreed; this isn't an easter egg. We played around with different "interesting" phrases and got Microsoft's page a lot; there are just *lots* of links to Microsoft, period.
2
danny@spesh.com
10-05-1999
11:05 PM ET (US)
I'm not sure this *is* an Easter Egg. Google's index places a high weighting on the textual contents of any link to a site. For example, site that has a lot of links pointing to it that say "click here for a great Star Trek parody" would turn up high in a search for "Star Trek parody", even if the parody itself never referred to Star Trek explicitly.

Google gives a top rating to Microsoft if you search for the words "more" and "Satan". I'm not sure why Microsoft would get high hits on "more", but I can *definitely* believe that a lot of people are linking to Microsoft with tag-lines referring to the Evil one.

To give another example - try "this company sucks". Well done, Disney! Note too that searching for "under eighteen" gives top ranking to Yahoo - presumably because so many porn sites link their "I am under eighteen and cannot enter your site" button to it.

It's an interesting side-effect of Google's indexing system. But I don't think it's intentional.

Danny, http://ntk.net
1
Keith Dawson
10-05-1999
01:13 PM ET (US)
Found any other Easter eggs built into search engines' rules? Seen any other directions in which the concept of Easter eggs is being stretched?

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