Miserable Failure? Google Trick Says It's Bush
By Richard J. Dalton Jr Staff Writer
December 6, 2003
A search for the phrase "miserable failure "
on the popular search engine [ Google ] brings up the biography of George W. Bush on the official White House Web site, in one of the more prominent search-engine manipulations with political overtones.
The phrase appears nowhere in the bio. But computer users rigged the search engine results by posting the phrase on Web pages and linking it to the Bush bio, in a technique called Google bombing.
"I thought it was absolutely one of the funniest ideas I've ever heard," said Don Waller, owner of Don Waller Interactive, a Web design company in Islip Terrace and a blogger who joined the prank in late October. "I just decided to jump in with it."
"This is just one of those spontaneous things that a blogger will post something and other bloggers will say, 'This is a great idea.'"
Search engines work much like an index in the back of a book, allowing people to look up words and directing them to the page in which the words appear. The search engines scour Web pages to create the index. In this case, computer users wrote links labeled "miserable failure." When users click on the link, it brings them to the official Bush bio. [ http://www.whitehouse.gov/president/gwbbio.html&e=7418 ]
When Google software creates its index, it notices the association between the phrase "miserable failure" and the Bush bio. So a search for the phrase brings up the bio.
White House spokesman Ken Lisaius had no comment. Google did not return phone calls.
Google bombings are created by people who run Web sites and Web logs, or blogs, which allow people to easily post information about particular topics. One person posts an idea for a bombing online, then it spreads like, you might say, Webfire.
The latest Google bombing appears to have spread within a matter of weeks.
It apparently doesn't take much for Google to make the association. At least 826 pages link to the Bush bio but just 32 of those pages include the phrase "miserable failure," according to a Google search.
In previous pranks, tricksters have rigged Google to bring up spoof pages. For instance, after France refused to join the coalition forces fighting Iraq, a Google search for "French military victories" brought up a spoof page that said no documents were found and asked, "Did you mean 'french military defeats.'"