Goodbye to Google Search's synonym operator #WebSearch http://googlesystem.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/googles-tilde-operator-no-longer-works.html
And as +Alex Chitu
noticed: The ~ operator is no longer documented. (as >>Now the tilde operator is missing from Google's help centre article and it no longer works.<<)
Well, Oh dear: if documentation is going to be an indication of Google's future supported operator, then it'll soon be bye bye to intitle:, intext:, inurl: (and inanchor, which intentionally isn't reliable)
Dan Russell (of Google), is there quoted for saying that the reason for removal of the operator is that "too few people were using it to make it worth the time, money, and energy to maintain".
I have no doubt that very few people was using the ~ (tilde/synonym) operator, and I have no doubt that at least one crucial factor was that: It was widely unknown (and Google has never made any effort to promote operators in their line of business, except for the site:-operator, which indirectly has served Google's interest to promote.)
The part about the synonym feature being high cost in maintenance is a statement with great/deep ramifications!
Why "great/deep ramifications"(?)
Because understanding relations (incl. synonyms & stemming) is very much interwoven into a lot of things related to Google's Search:
Google prides itself with providing relevancy as the ultimate for any search, but that often can't be done without attempting to understand context of the indexed information (in Google's database), and also attempting to understand the user's (search'ers) intend.
In fact Google has been so focused on understanding users' intend that they've fairly recently removed the SafeSearch option of "no"-filtering, in having convinced themselves that they have managed to understand the users' intend so well as to now auto-switching between "no" & "moderate" filtering.
And then ... the KG (KG: Knowledge Graph; fuelling the Knowledge Panel, which is shown in the right hand side of search result, for quite a few searches). Understanding the relation between bits & pieces of information is absolutely imperative for the KG to work (and I have NEVER seen the knowledge graph to list "husband", "wife", and "spouse" for one & same person).
Well, there is of course another take on this, like: Dan's not being completely forthcoming & honest.
I just did a search for [garbage], and down at bottom I found "Searches related to garbage", where one of them being: "waste management"
How come that could be related, if not for ... synonyms.
And then the search [define garbage] produced:
>>rubbish - trash - refuse - litter - waste - offal
BTW: A number of synonym thesaurus' (books) actually come quite cheap (or cheapish)
OK: A physical book w. paper pages doesn't directly interface with an online applications (like a Google Search), and it also only cover some kind of synonyms, but fear not!Bing to the rescue: http://www.bing.com/blogs/site_blogs/b/developer/archive/2012/11/01/bing-synonyms-api-now-available-on-windows-azure-marketplace.aspx
Gotta love web API's - Just send of a request, get an answer, without any need to sweat over coding the functionality, - or many concerns like "increases the complexity of the code base".
The truth to it all, is more likely that: Google is not
giving up on synonyms. Google is only dropping support for the synonym operator.
Why's Google dropping support for the synonym operator(?) Because ...
Well, a search form like [ something
~Word1] transliterates into a form similar to [ something
Word1 OR Word2 OR ... WordN]
Which in turn translates into computing resources, but: if nearly nobody is using the tilde, then that also means little resource usage caused directly by queries.
To the very best of my knowledge, then: Whatever complexity there is to all of this synonym/tilde, then: It's not parsing the users' queries’, it's not ..., and it's not doing the actual queries (or rather, it's not more complicated doing such a query up against the index, than any/many other still supported queries.)
I'll "ask" again: Why's Google dropping support for the synonym operator(?)
Well, Google has been supporting the operator for years!
And with all the monitoring Google does, then: Google didn't suddenly realise that it's a complicated feature seeing little use.
Also, - no
new technical standard just came out, making any changes to the field of synonyms. (in fact: a synonym still got same interpretation, as before most/all Googler's were born).
The only real change that has happened is a change in Google's attitude, starting around when Larry Page took over as CEO.
What's the difference between spending 2$ on a cup of coffee, and spending 2$ on a cup of coffee (?)
Right, the difference lies in who's being asked, and under what circumstances.
The pricetag didn't undergo any significant change, but the greed & need did!
Firstly: Google has always been for the masses (comes with the turf of being an advertising business), and under Larry Page's regime, then it's "show the profit, or die" (anything remotely resembling pampering for connoisseurs, is not an option).
Secondly: Google has taken on quite a few gambles, putting a drain into the till (e.g. Google+), and whatever Google’s “purely” financial issues are, is a bit of a dark horse (e.g. Motorola wasn’t cheap, and may still be costing the bean counters sleep).