Humans at Wolfram Alpha

People make a difference at Wolfram Alpha. The algorithms for calculating the answers are smart, but people made them that way.

Why Wolfram|Alpha’s Algorithm Still Relies On Human Smarts, Tina Amirtha, Fast Company (March 18)

Nearly every one of Wolfram|Alpha’s algorithms and real-world object identifiers (the ones that make it possible for the language to understand what a “pint” or a “foot” is) have been vetted by people who truly do know everything. And the Wolfram Alpha team regularly consults with real experts on how to make sense of all the datasets in its knowledge stores.

Desktop Search Market Share

Any movement in search engine market share in the United States is very small. Google holds at 67.5%, Microsoft/Bing at 18.4 and Yahoo at 10.2%. This summary notes that Bing picked up 2 points in the last year, and Yahoo lost. These are for searches from desktop and laptop. Mobile would be a different story.

Google Search Share Stable, Bing Growth Continues At Yahoo’s Expense, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Mar 20)

Of interest: “What is clear however is that on a global basis mobile search queries will surpass PC-based search volumes at some point later this year. “

New Google SERP Design

No – your browser isn’t malfunctioning.  Google rolled out its new design for the search results page.  Like it?

Google Makes It Official: New Search Results Design Goes Live For All, Search Engine Land (Mar 13)

No underlining, slightly larger font. A result might have a thumbnail image.

You can change it back following directions on this page — How to remove the new Google search results design, All Google Testing (Mar 13) – probably not worth the trouble.

DuckDuckGo – “little engine that can”

More good press about DucKDuckGo – sort of a story of the “little engine that could” – or maybe David and Goliath.

DuckDuckGo: The privacy search ruffling Google’s feathers, Katherine Ruston, The Telegraph (Mar 8)

First attraction is the privacy – DDG doesn’t track or store information about searches. Second is, according to this article, humans are involved.

“DuckDuckGo’s other big selling point is the way it sources information from enthusiasts, in a similar fashion to Wikipedia, and therefore helping to deliver answers curated by people who know about a subject, rather than just a list of links. “

How big?

The website’s traffic has quadrupled over the last year, and last month it passed the milestone of 5m queries a day. It is hard to establish DuckDuckGo’s exact market share because, as Weinberg says, “apples to apples numbers are hard to come by”, but he says it is “closing in” on 1pc of all searches worldwide.

Google’s In Depth Articles

Google didn’t drop In Depth articles, it just changed the design so you wouldn’t be able to spot them. This article doesn’t say that exactly but the screenshots of before and after prove it. I should add that in-depth articles rarely (and maybe never) show on searches done in Canada, whether or

Google In-Depth Article Testing New Design, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Roundtable (Mar 11)

Did discover, though, that the carousel will appear across the top for the search colleges canada.

Bing and Google drop search terms

Karen Blakeman asks Is Bing dropping search terms? (Mar 1), and it likely is. Gone are the days when we could count on search engines searching for ALL our terms. Too often our search terms are nowhere to be seen – even on large results sets.

Karen gives two ways to force Bing to include all terms. Interestingly, use the Boolean AND, or the prefix inbody:xxx

At Google we need to use Verbatim search, or intext:xxx. Don’t know about AND.

MillionShort search

How did I miss MillionShort, a search engine that came on stream in 2012? Sanjay Arora in Toronto created it to strip out the most popular sites that show over and over again in Google and Bing  and surface the ones that don’t rank as well.

Making the Web wild again: New search engine ignores popular websites, Toronto Star (May 30, 2012)

It is probably build on Google – or a Google Hack as Tech Crunch said.

You have a choice on how many to remove – and it doesn’t seem to simply take the first million because some results stay on the page. A panel on the right shows the domains that have been removed – and on my query, insomnia in the elderly,  removals included good sites ( and less useful ones ( What was left was a mix of some worthwhile surprises, and less worthy sleeping aids and other treatments.


Option to remove top million results

MillionShort received good press when it came out in 2012 but, except for the addition of voice search, very little has happened since..