An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Friday, September 25, 2009

I love the use of language. When clever people figure out ways to combine internet with chaos theory we obtain results such as the following:

As a result of a gay humorist, Dan Savage, and a relatively small number of people maintaining blogs or web sites, the name "Santorum" has become a slang word for a substance resulting from anal sex. It only takes a small number of people to "Google bomb" a given word. Here's how it works:

After you perform a search on Google, you see a ranked list of links. How does Google rank the search results? Google will not tell. But some people have found that one of the algorithms involves examining whether the word(s) appear as a "link name" and if so, the linking address (URL) that appears the most for the word or phrase searched rises to the top of Google's search results. If you click on the hyper link Rick Santorum, the link takes you to the URL :

After enough people do that, you can type in either "Santorum" or "Rick Santorum" into a Google search, and the definition at will appear at the top of the results. If you click on the "I'm feeling lucky" button, it will take you directly to the "Spreading Santorum blog." Although Savage has not done anything with this blog since 2004, it still appears as the number 1 first link on all searches using the word "Santorum."

Now that former Senator Santorum has decided to run for President, we can anticipate the Google bombing of phrases such as Santorum for President, Elect Santorum, and whatever campaign slogans he comes up with.

I have heard that all it takes is 10 people to tie a given phrase to a given web address. I first heard of this when some people google-bombed the phrase "Miserable failure" to President George W. Bush's official biography on the White House web site. Sadly, this doesn't work anymore (Google fixed it). Since as of this writing, the Santorum bomb still works, I am guessing that Google needs to "fix" these bombs manually, one at a time, and therefore the algorithm continues to work as before.

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