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XKCD Inadvertently Causes Googlebomb

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the first-rule-of-googlebombs-is-don't-talk-about-googlebombs dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 221

MrCopilot writes "As I noted yesterday (and was joined by many others)... in an offhand observation xkcd has singlehandedly changed a small section of the Internet. Changing the results from a Google search for "Died in a Blogging Accident" from 2 to (at this writing) over 7,170 in a little more than 24 hours." If you aren't reading xkcd, you're missing out.

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And this is just adding to it (4, Insightful)

ShadowMarth (870657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013874)

Not that I don't love XKCD, but is this really /.-worthy? Oh well. Still, awesome, and each post only serves to compound the results!

Re:And this is just adding to it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013914)

Yes! What are you, some kind of heathen?

Re:And this is just adding to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015854)

Those two were my parents, you insensitive clod!

Re:And this is just adding to it (5, Interesting)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013932)

Heresy. Anything related to one of the sites which are lucky enough to earn their own link on the main page of /. is always /.-worthy.

Also, the concept that observing any property of the internet within the internet can affect that property is interesting. If the choice is between reflecting on that or finishing that bloody piece of code I'm writing, I'll take the former, even if it may ultimately be pointless ;)

Re:And this is just adding to it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013956)

Isn't that the Uncertainty Principle [wikipedia.org] ? It certainly would be cool if it was proved this could be applied to the Web or the so-called "Blogosphere".

Re:And this is just adding to it (5, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015144)

No, you're confusing the Uncertainty Principle with the Observer Effect [wikipedia.org] .

"The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is also frequently confused with the "observer effect". The uncertainty principle actually describes how precisely we may measure the position and momentum of a particle at the same time -- if we increase the precision in measuring one quantity, we are forced to lose precision in measuring the other. Thus, the uncertainty principle deals with measurement, and not observation. The idea that the Uncertainty Principle is caused by disturbance (and hence by observation) is not considered to be valid by some, although it was extant in the early years of quantum mechanics, and is often repeated in popular treatments."

Re:And this is just adding to it (3, Funny)

Arimus (198136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013982)

"Also, the concept that observing any property of the internet within the internet can affect that property is interesting. If the choice is between reflecting on that or finishing that bloody piece of code I'm writing, I'll take the former, even if it may ultimately be pointless ;)"
Sir,
I must formally give you notice that you are to hand over immediately to the appropriate authorities your geek license and your /. account.
Nothing should ever come between a geek and his code.

(well other than pizza and coffee - but that tends to be more between the geek and the keyboard if they're messy eaters)

Re:And this is just adding to it (5, Funny)

El Yanqui (1111145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014310)

Also, the concept that observing any property of the internet within the internet can affect that property is interesting.

No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!

Re:And this is just adding to it (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014070)

Indeed it is not. This kind of shit happens constantly, and it's not newsworthy just because a site you liked did it. Hell, xkcd has done far cooler things than a pathetic little change in the number google hits for a funny phrase.

Re:And this is just adding to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014774)

The concept that there's anything too trivial to be /. worthy is so 2002.

People tell me I'm an old fogey because I can remember the days when /. articles had correct summeries and weren't slightly disguised adverts.

Get off my lawn!

F1RST P0ST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015592)

And by submitting this story (5, Insightful)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013912)

You probably change Google's result for "Died in a Blogging Accident" more than xkcd did.

Re:And by submitting this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014232)

Me thinks subby was well aware of this. 99% of bloggers give the rest a bad name.

Re:And by submitting this story (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014312)

You probably change Google's result for "Died in a Blogging Accident" more than xkcd did.
And you sir might want to follow the chain of events just one tiny step backwards and notice that it was, in fact, xkcd which caused the submission of the story. No xkcd, no /. story ergo xkcd is still to blame :)

Re:And by submitting this story (1)

OSUJoe (549620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014368)

That is only true if you ignore the fact that it never would have made it on to Slashdot in the first place if it wasn't for xkcd.

Any results from slashdot belong to xkcd too.

Re:And by submitting this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015126)

Obviously, except to you, the point was that the majority of results would be in the subset of result caused by Slashdot and xkcd, while a minority would be xkcd without Slashdot. It's really not hard to missread someone and pretend to be smarter than them, but it's just childish and lame.

Re:And by submitting this story (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015308)

Yep, you're gay.

Re:And by submitting this story (1)

miruku (642921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014864)

/. being second result by tomorrow afternoon?

Re:And by submitting this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015212)

Meme^2

Blog writers prosecutions (3, Insightful)

arigram (1202657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013922)

Considering that many people around the world have been prosecuted for their blogs, imprisoned, tortured and maybe even killed, it is not just humor, its a terrifying fact.

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (5, Funny)

Caiwyn (120510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013978)

Considering that many people around the world have been prosecuted for their blogs, imprisoned, tortured and maybe even killed, it is not just humor, its a terrifying fact.

I've never been a proponent of medical marijuana, but somebody needs to get this guy some weed, STAT.

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014042)

You might want to look into the meaning of this "accident" word.

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (3, Funny)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014424)

Don't you get it; it's a neologism, like "to disappear [someone]."

e.g. Mr. Hammond was accidented in the shower just days after blogging about President Obama's top-secret plans to invade Canada.

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015122)

Why would we invade Canada? It's not like they present any threat to speak of.

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015572)

they have oil.

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (3, Informative)

The13thSin (1092867) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014054)

I'm pretty sure those deaths don't count as accidents...

Re:Blog writers prosecutions (1)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014854)

Just being kind of pedantic, but I think those could be called accidents. An accident can also mean an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally [askoxford.com] , so getting tortured for writing a blog could be an accident if you didn't expect to, and didn't intend to, be tortured for writing it.

This might explain something (1)

Xiph (723935) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013924)

Never understood why my friends spam me so much, they must find it funny.

It appears that humour is viral.

"Died in a frist psot accident" (4, Funny)

pikine (771084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013934)

So apparently he didn't make it, and I'm making this nth post on behalf of the would-be first poster.

Re:"Died in a frist psot accident" (2, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014568)

'Your search - "died in a coding accident" - did not match any documents.'
so I'm safe :)

Re:"Died in a frist psot accident" (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015170)

I guess you just killed your safety. Surely Google will soon pick up your comment, thus making coding accidents more dangerous.

I just wonder where my xkcd T-shirts are. (0, Offtopic)

eddy (18759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013960)

Ordered 2007-11-17, said to be shipped by 2007-11-30. Still haven't seen a sign of them.

Typically when I order from something like amazon or thinkgeek or jinx it takes two weeks, tops.

Re:I just wonder where my xkcd T-shirts are. (1)

lekikui (1000144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014026)

Well, this isn't quite a thinkgeek scale business, from what I understand.

Try posting in the site issues forum and asking, maybe.

Incidentally, good call on Machinae Supremacy. Discovered them a bit ago, wonderful stuff. Have you heard of Abney Park?

Re:I just wonder where my xkcd T-shirts are. (1)

Spalti (210617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014072)

So, I'm obviously not the only one... I ordered at about the same time, and still haven't got my shirts, too. Ok, I'm living in Germany, so was expecting longer delivery times, but it's nearly two months now.

Re:I just wonder where my xkcd T-shirts are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014228)

Greetings from Finland. For me it took 10 weeks to get delivered. In the meantime I forgot the whole order so it was a nice surprise when I finally received the package.

Practical idea (2, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014062)

Jews write "G-d" instead of "God". It's their thing.

May be we should try to write in metaquotes about google searches, modifying quoted search phrases...

That's no bomb (5, Informative)

JackHoffman (1033824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014080)

A Googlebomb is when a page becomes associated with an unfitting search term which doesn't appear on the page itself. This effect is caused when many website authors place misnamed links to that page, usually in an intentional and coordinated manner.

Re:That's no bomb (0, Offtopic)

Gloy (1151691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014768)

Exactly. I'm not sure about "inadvertantly", either; seeing what happens to the search term over time is part of the fun of that comic and was almost certainly intentional. About the only part of the headline that makes sense is "xkcd"...

Re:That's no bomb (2, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014790)

True. More of a googlewhack, really.

teh intarnets (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014098)

I count 'em 250.000 at this moment in time. The Internet is stupid that way...

Re:teh intarnets (2, Informative)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014148)

Nope, still around 6500. Try adding quotes to your search query.

Re:teh intarnets (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014214)

Right you are, eccept it's 8130. I stand corrected. For now :D

Oblig. (0, Redundant)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014690)

No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it! (I realized it's been mentioned before, but it fixed the context of the p and gp)

Re:Oblig. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015612)

By the way, how do you explain that "Died in a knitting accident" brings 460 hits and not 7? Was the XKCD cartoon lying?

Re:Oblig. (1)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015846)

Because

Results 1 - 10 of about 483 for "Died in a knitting accident". (0.16 seconds)
Every time it gets mentioned the it gets more and more hits - especially on slashdot.

Re:teh intarnets (1)

Corsix (1178253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014162)

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Died+in+a+blogging+accident%22 [google.com] (with quotes) is 8,350 hits
http://www.google.com/search?q=Died+in+a+blogging+accident [google.com] (without quotes) is 256,000 hits
The XKCD comic and related articles refer to these searches done with quotes rather than without.

Re:teh intarnets (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014348)

Yes, thanks, I stand corrected.

I'm Confused (5, Insightful)

smackenzie (912024) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014114)

I've read every TFA link in the post, but I'm not sure I understand what is going on.

1. What is the true definition of a Google Bomb? Are we confusing this with Google Washing?

2. Why is this incident a Google Bomb?

3. What makes this particular incident Slashdot newsworthy?

I think this might be a funny scenario -- but I don't get it!? Thanks for the info.

The original Google Bomb is a VERY bad thing (4, Informative)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014236)

It's a form of Black Hat search engine optimization, in which you destroy a competitor's website. The way it's done is to set up a link farm of your own, but with every page pointing at your competitor's site. Eventually Google and the other search engine operators discover the link farm, but assume that your competitor put it there, and remove it from the index.

Thus they tell me at webmasterworld.

Re:The original Google Bomb is a VERY bad thing (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014360)

That's not how it works. When Google recognizes a link farm, it discounts the effect of these links. The result is that the link farm no longer contributes positively to the page rank of the target page, but it does not penalize the target page beyond that. Google has punished sites for shady search engine optimization, but in those cases the sites had always used on-site techniques which could not have been performed by an outsider. Anyway, if that spamming technique could kick other sites out of the Google index, it would be called a "Joe job" (in analogy to the false flag email attack.)

A Google bomb is when many people link to a page and use the same unfitting link text, and then the target page moves UP in the rankings for that particular search term.

Re:The original Google Bomb is a VERY bad thing (3, Informative)

ben there... (946946) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015644)

Google has punished sites for shady search engine optimization, but in those cases the sites had always used on-site techniques which could not have been performed by an outsider.
Google does penalize for duplicate content. For example, if you setup your domain to have the same content on http://www.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] and http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] a mirror rather than a redirect (notice the www. is a redirect here). It also penalizes content such as wiki-type content that gets mirrored in several sites around the web. Some webmasters have studied the effect of someone plagiarizing their content in this way and causing that effect. Though obviously their experiments couldn't have been very controlled.

A Google bomb is when many people link to a page and use the same unfitting link text, and then the target page moves UP in the rankings for that particular search term.
I agree with you there. It's the only usage I've ever heard of the term. Such as "miserable failure" [google.com] . The first hit for that search used to be Bush's biography at whitehouse.gov [whitehouse.gov] , until the articles about the phenomenon itself pushed it down. Google likely fine-tuned their algorithm sometime along the way as well.

Re:I'm Confused (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014438)

Slashdot, we know xkcd. If we read it, then we've already heard your story about katanas, ninja students or googlemooting. If we don't read it, then we don't find your story funny. Either way, posting this article is neither amusing nor newsworthy. Keep slashdot to stuff that matters.

Re:I'm Confused (3, Insightful)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015394)

Stuff that matters to whom? It mattered to the submitter, and it matters to anyone who finds it amusing or interesting. You are not Slashdot, and neither am I.

OT: Comcast now shuts off people's connections (-1, Offtopic)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014136)

as soon as they start up bittorrent. Even if the connection is fully encrypted.

Of course Azarus-Vuze isn't exactly subtle, since it gets all of that other stuff. The first time I tried bittorent tonight, they waited 15 minutes before shutting my connection off. The second time they did it in maybe 10 seconds. And didn't turn it on again for half an hour.

Also, long before this they've been rewriting packet. The news that says they've been shutting off connections isn't the half of it.

I tried downloading Ubuntu over bittorent a couple of weeks ago - and it failed the checksums hundreds of times until I gave up!! Got that? Garbage in the packets!

Come on, I can't be the only one! Lets hear from you. Comcast in San Francisco!

Re:OT: Comcast now shuts off people's connections (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014260)

Oh come on, schoolmarm, this is exactly the sort of thing Slashdotters are interested in!

Wow. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014152)

This is the most blatant Slashvertisment ever. There's already a permanent link to that terminally-humourless web comic on the front page already, does it really need an article -containing- an ad as well?

Malda, if you're that obsessed over XKCD your wife is probably sizing up other men right about now.

Re:Wow. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014414)

This is the most blatant Slashvertisment ever. There's already a permanent link to that terminally-humourless web comic on the front page already, does it really need an article -containing- an ad as well?
Alright already, you already used that word once in the sentence already.

That and the rest of your comment already makes you look uneducated already.

Re:Wow. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014942)

As if you would be qualified to judge whether or not I am educated. Thank you for reading my post with such great care however, quite flattering of you. Let's see if I can provide you with some more material...go turn your mother's computer off and fuck her like a good boy, you white trash piece of shit.

There, got any other witty retorts to add? By all means, I won't be reading. Feel free to waste your time.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015454)

Kid, your FACE is a witty retort!

Wheres the joke?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014180)

That reminds me of the old jokes...

What does Diana stand for?
Died In A Nasty Accident

What does Dodi stand for?
Died On Dashboard Impact

What did Dodi say to his driver?
Want to come to Paris with me and Di?

I take exception (4, Informative)

Yurka (468420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014184)

to "inadvertently". You have no reason to assume that the author is not smart enough to have foreseen (and even counted on) this effect.

Actually, I take a separate exception to "inadvertantly".

Re:I take exception (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014410)

You have no reason to assume that the author is not smart enough to have foreseen (and even counted on) this effect.

Don't be rediculous.

Re:I take exception (3, Interesting)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015326)

I don't follow XKDC, but it didn't take me long to find out this has happened before.

This comic [xkcd.com] spawned a whole different type of [art|softcore pornography] [wetriffs.com] . If you accept the warning and scroll to the bottom you'll see proof of how wrong you are. If you're thinking that these events aren't the same because WetRiffs and XKCD are apparently operated by the same person, you should see that thousands [google.co.uk] did mention WetRiffs on their web log.

By the way, 33% of your post was misspelt.

Re:I take exception (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015690)

By the way, 33% of your post was misspelt.

Clearly, you missed the joke. And, I do follow XKCD, and am well aware of the exploits it often spawns, many of which are covered here.

Of course (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014234)

Of course this is only going to increase the number of pages in the google bomb.

The comic numbers were never right (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014252)

I happened to see the comic pretty much the minute it was posted (up late working), and curiosity had me searching on the various terms.

Not only did the search counts differ dramatically, even the relative ranking between the items differed.

It appears to have been a humor piece with intentionally bogus numbers, not a statistical summary of danger reporting online.

Re:The comic numbers were never right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014702)

did you use quotes? it doesn't work without.

Monkey see, monkey do (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014278)

Residual failure [acm.org]

Inadvertantly (1)

gmf (810466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014372)

Speaking of changing google results... This article is currently the third hit for "inadvertantly"...

Re:Inadvertantly (1)

Skuldo (849919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015348)

Not something to be proud of :)

Flawed stats (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014458)

"Died in an accident" is over 208000. Do stats in pie chart and blogging will take less than 3%.

Not just death by blogging (2, Interesting)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014462)

My wife showed me the "killed in a knitting accident" part, which was causing much mayhem in the ravelry [ravelry.com] knitting and crochet site.

Contribution (1)

Obsi (912791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014478)

My own contribution [beoch.net] to the cause.

"Died in a Blogging Accident" (2, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014484)

Do we really need to repeat "Died in a Blogging Accident" for nth time? I mean how many times do we need to state that someone "Died in a Blogging Accident"?

Anyhow, this was another xkcd comic that had its effect: http://xkcd.com/305/ [xkcd.com]

XKCD is not funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014494)

Am I alone in not finding XKCD funny?

Uhm (4, Funny)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014544)

yes.

I was curious too... (2, Funny)

rvtheace (1094005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014504)

But I just took xkcd's word for it

It seems text is quite important in google ranking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22014518)

Have you noticed that even while pretty much all hits from "died in a blogging accident" have a link back to the original comic, the comic itself (which would arguably be a very important hit) is not listed? (Add "site:xkcd.com" to the query: no hits for http://xkcd.com/369/ [xkcd.com] )
It seems that actually containing the text you are searching for is pretty much a requirement for listing instead of just giving the site a strong push up the ranking.
I would have expected that the thousands of links back to the original comic would push it above the "not-result" boundary...

Re:It seems text is quite important in google rank (1)

lintux (125434) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015198)

The string "died in a blogging accident" actually has to be in the link to the comic. Most people probably used a different link text like "today's xkcd comic". As long as computers don't understand natural languages, it'll have to be like that.

Stuff that matters (0, Troll)

smookumy (1121273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014540)

Slow news day, I guess?

You're sitting on a timebomb (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014550)

"died in a computer accident" - 1 result.

Re:You're sitting on a timebomb (5, Funny)

Strange Quark Star (1157447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015370)

No, I am afraid it is two now.

This is what's wrong with Google. (2, Interesting)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014580)

What I find most interesting is now, after the "Googlebomb" try looking at some of the links that come up. More than half in the first few pages are the scum-sucking lowlife advertising sites. Clearly what they're doing is monitoring the "hot Google searches" and then googlepimping© their own sites to match those searches. Everybody knows this is going on, but the efficiency at which these people monitored Google searches, noticed that a particular search was popular, then got their own sites listed really surprises and frightens me. Google is fundamentally broken.

Re:This is what's wrong with Google. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014754)

Yeah, just because it is not possible now to fight such overuses of google, it is fundamentally broken.

Re:This is what's wrong with Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015754)

Any idea how they do this exactly?

Re:This is what's wrong with Google. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015850)

More than half in the first few pages are the scum-sucking lowlife advertising sites. Clearly what they're doing is monitoring the "hot Google searches" and then googlepimping© their own sites to match those searches.

Searching for phrases in news stories sometimes brings up bottom-feeder ad sites. Take a headline from The Register, search it in Google, and see what comes back. I noticed this a few days ago when we got a writeup in The Register, and the bottom-feeder ad sites not only ranked above the real story, they pushed the real story to the second page. This only lasted for a few days; it looks like the bottom-feeders put up the latest stories.

Maybe not single-handed (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014598)

I don't read XKCD daily or even often, but I found my way to the "Dangers" through Language Log [upenn.edu] a widely-read Linguistics-related blog that frequently includes Google-based frequency and attestation research. I'm sure Language Log readers were responsible for a chunk of the googlebomb.

FWIW, I was most interested in the "gardening accident". I didn't do the research yet, but I wondered how many of those references related to Spiñal Tap drummer John "Stumpy" Pepys.

Re:Maybe not single-handed (1)

blankinthefill (665181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015324)

While they might have helped, the origination of their reason for doing so was STILL the comic in question. I would say that still qualifies as single handed. Now, if both xkcd AND Language Log had boosted the search, but for different reasons, then you would be right, imo. :)

Re:Maybe not single-handed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015378)

"FWIW, I was most interested in the "gardening accident". I didn't do the research yet, but I wondered how many of those references related to Spiñal Tap drummer John "Stumpy" Pepys."

Well, it's a subtle thing, because according to Spinal Tap it was a (quoting) "bizarre gardening accident" [google.ca] , which yields 1220 results, whereas the more generic "died in a gardening accident" [google.ca] yields 124 results (I tried to preserve the pre-xkcd numbers by adding -xkcd to the search, but it's weird -- I get 124 if I do that, the 160 reported by xkcd if I don't). If you look at the results there is some slop (e.g., some results include xkcd references even though I tried to exclude them, some Spinal Tap references are also in the non-"bizarre" results, etc.). Even so, the order of magnitude difference is a little surprising given that the correct Spinal Tap quote is a more specific search and adding more terms usually decreases the search results. The implication is that generic "gardening accident" deaths are less commonly reported by Google than the fictional Spinal Tap drummer tragedy by about 10x. Also, if you look carefully at the non-Spinal Tap results there are some real gardening deaths in there (e.g., the drummer from the band 'Toto' did die of a gardening accident because of an alergic reaction to pesticides he was using).

Unfortunately the other obvious Spinal Tap test case here ("choked on vomit") isn't easy to research in the same way because it can't be easily fitted into an xkcd "Died in a _____ accident" format, but there were 2480 results for "choked on vomit" [google.ca] , and excluding "Spinal Tap" [google.ca] from those results still left 1500.

Incidentally, "Died in a googling accident" [google.ca] yields 7 results, 2 if you exclude xkcd.

Died in a * accident (5, Interesting)

kasperd (592156) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014648)

Google will actually let you search for Died in a * accident [google.com] . If you do so you can see what words people put in there. Right now the fourth result is actually "Died in a blogging accident" (right after three car accidents). I have used that to find out what might be the missing word in other sentences like Grab your * and double click [google.com] or Either you are with us or you are with the * [google.com] . Even more interesting if combined with the - operator to filter [google.com] out the obvious possibilities.

Re:Died in a * accident (2, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014784)

Heh, actually for "Either you are with us..." fifth result is your post, talk about metasearches :D

Re:Died in a * accident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22015412)

Heh, actually for "Either you are with us..." fifth result is your post, talk about metasearches :D
The most interesting about that is not so much that it showed up in that search, but rather that it showed up so quickly. Think about it, does every random slashdot post get indexed and become searchable in google in less than fifteen minutes?

Re:Died in a * accident (5, Funny)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014910)

I, for one, welcome our new * overlords.

Re:Died in a * accident (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015436)

I just had to try that!

First two results are "insect" (that should be expected).
Next come two "BluRay", but from the same site, so they probably should be counted as one.
Then comes "robot" and "robotic".
And after that there comes "*" - but not your Slashdot post, but one in Language Log.
After that, there follows another "robot" and two "cybernetic".

I haven't looked at the following result pages, but the robots at least win the front page.

Re:Died in a * accident (1)

Anonymous Homo (1217654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015814)

thats kinda neat [google.com]

Death Penalty (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014666)

This is outrageous. Everyone involved with this obscene web comic should be prosecuted to the fullest extent for causing all of these horrific deaths. It must be put to a stop immediately or the death toll will rise past that of 9/11. And then who will we invade?

It's due to the death in China and Digg (3, Interesting)

ckedge (192996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014760)

It's because of this:

      http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/01/11/china.blogger/index.html [cnn.com]

and also this:

      http://www.digg.com/world_news/Blogger_Beaten_to_Death_in_China_for_Filming_Argument [digg.com] ..where someone point out that "xkcd's coming wasn't quite so funny any more" but did not provide a direct link.

I can't believe I'm the first one to point this out!

Re:It's due to the death in China and Digg (1)

Impeesa (763920) | more than 6 years ago | (#22015588)

For what it's worth, I (like many others) searched it while there were still only the two matches. Both were references to the same Myspace post [myspace.com] . I don't think anything relating to the incident you mention would describe it as an 'accident.'

More than one GBomb... (1)

Venotar (233363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014792)

This is sort of a two-fer, since apparently "died in a knitting accident [google.com] ?" has garnered just as much attention :)

Humm what about /. ??? (1)

laplace_man (856560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22014894)

Now let's wait for Slashdot after effect. Here is even more curious people than on xkcd :)
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