Books, culture, fishing, and other games

August 12, 2004

Well, I'll be Googlewhacked!

When I was told in a comment (thanks, Keith) that I was a Googlewhack, I thought I was being insulted. I'm still a little uncertain, I admit. Maybe it was a crypto insult of some sort. But having no idea what on the web that might possibly mean (and thus discovering I'm not the geek some tell me I am), I did the natural thing: I Googled.

And I found proof I am no geek. It's not even news. Way back a couple of generations of computer technology ago someone came up with a game involving Google. ZDNet has an article , "Are You A Secret Googlewhacker?" explaining that's dated January 30, 2002.

It works like this: You choose pair of words and Google them with the aim of getting a single reply. That means that in the universe of information indexed by Google, at that moment that is the single document, web page, that contains that combination of two words. Apparently Keith found the magic pair that delivers him to dislogue, and he was kind enough to let me know one existed, but not so evil as to tell me what the pair is. He, intentionally or not, has posed me a challenge.

Of course, I can probably cheat. It may just turn up in my list of recent searches delivering readers to this blog.

The very interesting thing about this game, is that it's sort of like searching for prime numbers. Once one is know, there's no longer a reason to search for it. Googlewhacks go one step farther though. If anyone reports them to a database that's indexed by Google, or brags in any sort of forum or other web document of discovering a combination and says what is the pair, it ceases to be a Googlewhack because as soon as Google indexes that page, more than one page containing the pair will turn up on searches.

That suggests that I probaby have two hopes for discovering what was the dislogue Googlewhack. I can pray it shows up in the search log, or I can write Keith an email begging him to tell me. I do admit I'm curious.

I would not be surprised if there were more than one either. All those words I use for odd fauna in the Amazon mixed with one of the less common technical terms probably rate as low odds to appear on the same document. The name of the blog itself probably is pretty easy to form them with also, since it's a coinage, or it's a typo. That might be considered cheating.

Further investigation turned up an "official" site with rules and a tally list that is not indexed by Google so the Googlewhacks discovered are preserved (until another combination happens in the wild!) It has more refined rules, an official dictionary (rules out "dislogue") , and excludes the use of quotation marks (too easy!) and pages that are simply lists of words such as dictionaries, concordances, bibliographies, etc.

But I now have a new game. Thanks, Keith.

Posted by dan at August 12, 2004 12:47 AM