Feeds

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

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

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Are you a fat boy? Get to university NOW, you PENNILESS SLACKER
Rotund types paid nearly 20% less than people who didn't eat all the pies
Emma Watson should SHUT UP, all this abuse is HER OWN FAULT
... said an anon coward who we really wish hadn't posted on our website
Japan develops robot CHEERLEADERS which RIDE on BALLS
'Will put smiles on faces worldwide', predicts corporate PR chief
Bruges Booze tubes to pump LOVELY BEER underneath city
Belgian booze pumped from underground
Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights
Don't doodle, it might cost you your flight
Amazon: Wish in one hand, Twit in the other – see which one fills first
#AmazonWishList A year's supply of Arran scotch, ta
Let it go, Steve: Ballmer bans iPads from his LA Clippers b-ball team
Can you imagine the scene? 'Hey guys, it's your new owner – WTF is that on your desk?'
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.