Readers say Google is losing its relevance

By Brian Livingston

I reported in eWeek on Feb. 17 that my readers and I had found numerous specific examples of the Google.com search engine failing to provide in its first 10 results good links for fairly straight-forward technical searches. The apparent decline in relevance is a very fitting subject for a follow-up story in today’s Brian’s Buzz, even though Google of course isn’t a Windows program. Google is used by so many people in the information technology biz to research PC problems that the search engine sometimes seems like an ever-present Windows utility.

I received far more reader responses than I expected after my column, entitled “Google grumbles,” appeared in eWeek. Today, I bring you a wide selection of readers’ experiences on this surprisingly emotional subject.

In my column, I used as illustrations Google’s results on two different searches. These queries were designed to find information on (1) deleting Mac files that had been copied to Windows but couldn’t be removed due to illegal characters and (2) setting the default for Windows XP file-open dialog boxes to the Details view, respectively:

    windows delete mac files illegal names

    xp open dialog default details

Google had little of relevance on these topics in its first 10 results. Clicking a tab at Google to switch to Google Groups (an archive of Usenet posts), however, resulted in 10 links that were far better. And a competitor, Teoma.com, which now powers the Ask.com service, also had very pertinent results.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2004-02-26: