Feeds

Ask Google this impossible question, get web filth as a reward

Try it before search engine PHWOAR, er, flaw is fixed

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

An odd bug in Google's search algorithms appears to be benefiting XXX-rated websites.

Searches for impossible pages - such as the contradictory search term -4^(1/4) which means "Find me pages containing a 1 next to a 4, but which do not contain a 4 - return web-page results liberally sprinkled with links to online grumble flicks.

The bug is also triggered by other such implausible query strings, such as "1 2" -1 and "1 2" -2, according to curious web surfers who stumbled upon the glitch.

Jeremy Hoffman, a Google software engineer, contributed to a Quora discussion thread that revealed the bug, and noted that contradictory searches should return zero results.

"However, we have uncovered a bug that causes some web pages to 'match' these contradictory queries. Since these are the only results that 'match' the query, they are the results that get shown," he said.

The most promising theory to surface on Quora suggests that porn sites are making use of anchor text containing the contradictory queries. The left-field search engine optimisation is apparently exploiting a bug even Google is only dimly aware about.

"Since a lot of porn terms are competitive, my bet is that they're driving up certain sites using obscure terms that no one will use to build the page rank of their video sites, which then pass their link authority to the real sites that they're trying to boost," writes Lisa Vaas in a post on Sophos' Naked Security blog covering the issue.

"People aren't likely to find and report your gibberish link farm if only robots ever see it. You then use the sites that have a high authority and rank for nonsense terms to built the authority of the stuff that you're really trying to promote."

Hoffman said the search engine giant is working on a fix. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.