From search-engine to walled garden: majority of Google searches do not result in a click

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Google delivers answers on-site by scraping content from other websites. For instance, every time I search for a recipe, Google returns scraped content as the primary search result. From the perspective of the scraped website, this is super-duper damaging. Is this not somehow legally actionable?

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This BB post from a few months ago may offer a hint: Lyrics website used clever encoding to catch Google copying its content
To whit 1) they may actually be licensing the scraped content (or obeying the license re Wikipedia) and 2) those they enter into agreements with might not be… and Google may or may not be tacitly aware of (2).

Personally I block ads so any way you cut it I’m causing “damage”. But I do prefer getting my simple answers to stupid questions without traipsing around the internet. Especially as between ABP/NoScript/RequestPolicy (or uOrigin/NoScript/uMatrix on other profiles) new sites are usually pretty broken until I whitelist the CSS and (maybe) the first-party scripts.

Also, neither Facebook nor Google are walled gardens, though I’ll grant that a better word is not coming to mind…

Most of my Google “searches” are me using Google as a spell checker. It is MUCH more functional than the spell checker on my phone. Sometimes the goal of the search is not to find a web page, but something a bit more basic.


I use Google as a calculator, as a phone book, as a restaurant guide, as all sorts of stuff. But it seems to still almost work as a search engine.

Except when I click on an eBay listing, their interface generates such a mish-mash of results that I need to type in the exact phrase I gave to Google into eBay’s search box to get the thing that I was originally searching for. I have no idea why eBay screws this up.

Suffice it to say that providing accurate information is rather low on the priority list for most of these giants.


I switched to DuckDuckgo and the Brave browser and never looked back. Brave even lets you distribute earned ‘rewards’ from viewing credits and optional tips to websites that you choose (and which participate with them).


ebay’s internal search engine, Cortana, is almost universally hated. Every time they ‘upgrade’ it, it seems to work worse.

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I often use google just to see whether anyone else on the internet has come up with the same pun that I did. No need to click on any of the results—especially if the pun is unique and there are no results!


Ditto on DuckDuckGo. I switched to DuckDuckGo on the home desktop and none of the five people that use it have been the least inconvenienced. Also on my mobile browser.


I’m not sure how this qualifies as a walled garden. The information, and the link to the website, are still there if you need them. I think the fact that they provide basic facts like scientific constants without going to a separate site is a good thing.


I’m curious about the data because there seem to be missing categories.

Often, I search for something, get a page of irrelevant results because my search terms were too vague or ambiguous. Then I do another search and another, until I get relevant results. At that point, my answer might be there, or I might click on an outbound link. But were all those “bad” searches leading up to the final one counted in the “no click” category?

Likewise, what about searches that result in multiple clicks? If I’m researching a topic rather than looking for a specific answer, I might open several of the linked search results (in separate tabs) and spend some time going through them all.

Maybe all of these are trivial compared to everything else, but, without data, I’m not sure how much stock I can place in the conclusion.


A fair amount of people are just plain reluctant to click on links nowadays. On twitter I see people ask for a synopsis instead of simply clicking on the link. Just saw a girl say outright she didn’t want to click on a New York Times link. My first reaction was what the hell, then I remembered that I’m just as irrationally reluctant to click on articles from reputable media sites for fear they might be part of an ad-tracking network. I think my increased reluctance to click links has far less to do with Google and a lot more to do with EU directives that require user permissions to set cookies. Those cookie accept/decline messages are a constant reminder that somebody is trying to gain info about me. No wonder I get some sort of pavlovian lowkey paranoid reaction when they’re in my face all the time. It certainly doesn’t help to hear about how annoyingly difficult it can be to get rid of some of those ad cookies.


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