Google Suggest – The Weird and Wonderful World of Autocompletion

Thu, Jul 16, 2009, by fivegoldstars

Search Engines

Google Suggest offers to make your searches more convenient and efficient by keeping you from having to reformulate your query. The weird and wonderful world of autocompletion also exposes some of the more interesting sites on the web…

Unless you’ve been holed up in Tora Bora for a spell, you’ll have no doubt noticed the latest addition to the Google family – the ‘Google Suggest’ feature. Google Suggest is an auto-completion tool, stealthily integrated into their all-pervasive search box. For the avoidance of doubt, such a feature completes things. Automatically. It’s a bit like having an electronic wife as a search tool. You start a sentence, and Google Suggest will finish it – often in a bizarre fashion, and completely at odds with your original intentions.

Based around those secretive but all important Google algorithms – a set of numbers which live alongside the Colonel’s herb and spice list in Eldorado – Google suggest aims to predict the queries that users are most likely to want to see. Overall popularity of searches, perceived relevance - a variety of factors mean that if you type ‘guitar’, Google thinks ‘tabs’; you say ‘potato’, Google says…’recipes’. On first glance it’s practical and, like previous auto-fill functions, a little dull. It saves on a little typing, and comes in useful for those senior moments, but it’s hardly the most innovative thing to have come from Mountain View.

However, scratch below the surface, and Google Suggest serves another purpose – it provides a truly comic glimpse into the weird and wonderful side of the human psyche and its presence on the world wide web. One of the hottest items on Stumbleupon right now is a screen grab of a users search for the phrase ‘I like to ta…’. So what is Google Suggest’s top offering with 13,400 pages of results? How does it see that query panning out? ‘I like to tape my thumbs to my hands to see what it would be like to be a dinosaur.’ You couldn’t make it up.

Now, even the most banal of search terms can now be a source of fun, and it’s game on to find the wackiest Google Suggest phrases out there. If you find any funny ones, be sure to add them to the comments below.

I’d like to be…

What are our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations? What do we, as humans, want ‘to be’? Successful? Healthy? Rich? Well, if the users of Google are anything to go by, a teabag. Yes, a perforated paper bag filled with dried leaves. Listen up Labour – there’s a new NVQ in there somewhere.

I want to see a…

A what? A better world? Aurora Borealis? Eight and a half million results suggests that what you want to see is a blue movie. What a horny little bunch you are. Which leads nicely onto the next one…

I think I’m…

Pregnant. And obviously the first thing I need to do is search Google for advice. Next on the list, poke the father on Facebook.

I’m going to do…

A search phrase that’s crying out for tales of experience. Maybe you’re going to do the London Marathon – perhaps you’re going to do a parachute jump. What does Google Suggest think you’re most likely to do? The answer – a poo at Paul’s. Better still, it’s second and third suggestions are ‘a poo at Paul’s house’ and ‘a poo in Paul’s bathroom’. Maybe this popular Paul is showing those blue movies on the back of his toilet door?

I fantasize about…

Americans take all the blame for this next one. won’t let us Brits ‘fantasise’, so I’m assuming that it’s the Yanks who ‘fantasize’ about…their sisters. Eww. Still, let’s hope their sisters are English because…

American women are…

…the worst, worthless, shallow, fat, selfish and easy. In that order. Not my words you understand, but Googles. It’s not just their looks that make Larry and Sergey a hit with the ladies.

What is the…

Meaning of life? Surely, this has to be the top suggestion – an algorithm designed on a ZX80 would be able to process that request. Google’s answer is just that little bit more mundane. What is the…time. Still, with seven hundred and eighty MILLION pages of results, it looks like a hot topic. People of Earth – buy a watch.

How much should I…

A search phrase begging for validation, riddled with the angst of the lonely internet user. Or, a query about how much you should be feeding your dog/cat. If you’re having to Google it, that animal is as good as dead.

The average person…

Admittedly, it’s bottom of the list, but apparently the average person ‘eats spiders’. Call me abnormal, but I’ll stick to steak and chips.

And finally. Google Suggest is…

The only suggestion that this feature can offer, with thirty nine million pages of results? Google Suggest ‘is not working’. You don’t say.

For more Google search related fun, check out the story of Zeitgeist, the top searches of the decade, here.

If you’re looking for World Cup humour, click here.

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7 Comments For This Post
  1. Bohemian Bystander Says:

    Such utter wit! You had me laughing heartily there, especially with this bit “Listen up Labour – there’s a new NVQ in there somewhere”.

    Another good show!

  2. fivegoldstars Says:

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Devyn Says:

    If you type in I am….
    the first thing that comes up is
    ” i am extremely terrified of chinese people”

  4. Alley Says:

    If you type “how to jo”
    the first choice is
    “how to join the kkk”
    racists need to search for hate now?

  5. anonymous Says:

    when u type “what a”

    you get

    “what are these strawberries doing on my nipples i need them for the fruit salad”

  6. Laurie Says:

    If you type “why are,” one of the suggestions, though not the first one, is “why are there school.”

    The answer, my dear illiterate friend, is to prevent grammatical blunders such as that.

  7. Brian Says:

    IF you type “what do i do if”, it suggests “what do i do if a ginger kid bites me”

    Also, IF you type “how do i” it suggests “how do i get my sister pregnant”

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