Fun with Google Search: Profane Political Documentary Edition

Longtime readers of this blog might remember (OK, probably not) 4 years ago when I wrote about the power of a popular video to show up in Google’s organic search results based on a random string of characters in the URL (“1-f”). The result in question then was the music video (on YouTube) for George Michael’s “Careless Whispers,” which, naturally, had no logical relevance to the search for “1-f.” Today, it’s an hourlong Adam Curtis BBC political documentary with a profane title … that has nothing to do with “1-f.”

That’s right, you read that correctly. See the screenshot below:

Unfortunately, this result cannot be replicated in real time because a new irrelevant video—”kitten vs TWO scary things”—has supplanted The Trap, the result I first saw a few weeks ago. As for the Curtis BBC documentary, its YouTube title (“The Trap – 1 – F*k You Buddy”) does not suggest any semantic connection to pink noise, asteroids or other potential meanings of “1-f.” Any human with 4th-grade literacy could probably interpret that the “1” in the title (pictured above) refers to the edition of that particular film and that the “F” is nothing other than the first letter in the phrase “F*k You Buddy,” which happens to follow the 1 after a hyphen, which has space on each side of it, clearly separating the “1” from the letter f. (The editor in me would also tell you that technically, there should be 2 asterisks there, one for each missing letter, but that’s a bonus observation.)

One conclusion is unequivocally clear: search has evolved significantly, but it still can’t substitute for human intelligence. While Google is making rapid advances in the notoriously tricky field of speech recognition, the good old-fashioned written word can still confound. Which irrelevant video will Google serve up next? Or will this issue be solved by the time my next search experiment takes place? Stay tuned to find out.

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