Canadians can now guess Google's bad word blacklist
Published Thursday, September 30, 2010 10:59AM EDT
TORONTO - Google Instant is being rolled out across the country and before long Canadians will be able to play the game that hackers are indulging in: guess Google's blacklist.
Google Instant is a new feature that spits out search results while a user is typing, without the need to click the Search button.
It was launched earlier this month on Google.com and as of Wednesday, started appearing on Google.ca for some users.
But there are certain words that Google won't help users spell. A publication aimed at hackers called 2600 Magazine has already compiled a list of such words. It's several hundred entries long.
Some seem innocuous but could lead to adult pages, like "amateur," while others are blocked because they're associated with hate speech or other offensive content.
Although some have claimed that Google Instant's list of bad words is a form of censorship, users can still search for the subjects by typing them in themselves.
Google Instant's product manager, Toronto native Jonathan Effrat, said the list of words isn't new and is based on search data that points to objectionable content. He noted there are cases in which some words are blocked without merit.
Google won't help you spell out Barenaked Ladies, even if you're just searching for the Canadian band. You'll get help searching for Pamela, but not Pamela Anderson.
"It's really an imperfect science in some ways," Effrat admitted. "There are a lot of ways in which it continues to evolve and we'll continue to make it better over time."
Effrat said Google Instant may take a few days to spread in Canada and encouraged Canadian users to use the .CA version of the website for better localized search results.
"If I go to Google.ca and I search for 'on' I get 'Ontario Place' as the first prediction and if I go to Google.com I get 'OnTrac,"' he explained.
"If I just type the letter 'v' I get 'Via Rail' first, so it really is very much customized to that domain."
So far, he said, Google Insight is estimated to be saving users the equivalent of 11 hours every second, when taking into account the one billion searches Google processes daily and how much more quickly the new results appear.
"We see this as an opportunity to think more broadly about how we can save people time and make the experience easier, both in terms of formulating the search and having the results essentially ready and waiting so you don't have to wait for the network time when hitting Enter."
He also said a mobile version of Google Instant is in the works and while there is no timeline for a release, "it's something to watch for in the coming weeks."