Saturday, January 16, 2010

Islam is .... (Or, If your search engine results were being filtered, well, how would you know?)

If you type "Christianity is" into google -- that is, without quotes, without hitting return, and with "query suggestions" turned on (the last of which should be the default) -- you will see, magically appearing, a series of suggestions, something like the screenshot to the right.

The same will happen with any string of the form "X is", where X = Buddhism, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Catholicism, Wicca, Mormonism, Scientology, or Freemasonry (and possibly many others).

Jainism only yields two suggestions, as do Paganism and Seventh Day Adventism. Protestantism only yields one lonely suggestion: "Protestantism is wrong", and Pentecostalism only gives: "Pentecostalism is a cult."

The following labels, followed by "is", do not prod google to yield any suggestions at all: Caodaism, Saivism, Vaishnavism, Discordianism, Heathenism, Raelianism, Druidry, Asatru, Thelema, UUism, Antinomianism, Christian Science, scientism, spiritualism, trinitarianism, and Islam.

Islam? Yes, that's right, typing "Islam is" does not prompt google to offer up any suggestions for how to complete your search string.

wired.com ran a piece on this mystery almost 10 days ago. wired.com reporter Ryan Singel wrote that google's official explanation at that time was that “This is a bug and we’re working to fix it as quickly as we can."

I'll file this one under "P" for: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

3 comments:

Denis said...

Yahoo doesn't censor queries on religion. Islam is yields result similar to Christianity and Buddhism. However, when I tried Americans are it suggested America is the best and American idiot. Go figure.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

That's interesting about yahoo.

Results can also vary by location -- using what appears to be "the same" search engine. google.cn gives different results to people inside mainland China than it gives to the rest of the world.

Denis said...

Just found out that Youtube has the same 'bug'.