[goo-guhl] [ uh-byoos]
- Wrong or improper use; misuse.
- Search behavior based on the erroneous belief that Google will find whatever is sought.
Although I’m coining the phrase here for the first time (as far as I know), Google abuse is very common. It happens all the time. Google abuse happens when people attempt to use Google to answer questions or find things that are better answered or found using some other search engine, query, database, process, method, etc. Google abuse is like using the wrong tool to get a job done: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work very well, and sometimes it totally botches the job. You would not use a hammer to drive in a screw or an eggbeater to cut your lawn, yet people persist in using Google to the exclusion of other resources, often with poor results. Ask any librarian.
Google is a wonderful tool for a vast number of questions. I use it for personal and professional information gathering all the time. I find it very helpful to verify things and to put thing in context. For example, I was recently asked about the prayer for relief aspect of a civil complaint in Montana. Since I wasn’t sure what the term prayer for relief meant, I went to Google and gave it a try. I quickly learned that it is the aspect of a complaint where the expectations of relief or remedy in a civil case are spelled out. Pushing my luck (and committing Google Abuse), I mixed the word “Montana” into my google search. Of course it was a “Google Dead End” (another Google phenomenon where although you have thousands of hits, none of them are appropriate).
In order to integrate my useful Google results about prayer for relief into Montana’s legal structure, I had to go to another source, namely the Montana Code Annotated and specifically the rules of civil procedure to learn that the relief aspects of a complaint are addressed in section 8, rule 54. Finding cases where rule 54 was applied to the patron’s specific situation was simply a matter of moving to the MCA annotations.
In this case I used Google to verify a term and provide a context for that term. It worked but asking Google to then provide information about how the term fits together with Montana law failed completely.
Here are a couple of indicators that you either are, or are about to, commit Google Abuse.
- Your question is complex and very specific yet you hope Google answers it. My reference question above illustrates this. Another example: A professor wanted to know if his published paper appeared in a certain online resource. A google search did not indicate that it was so he concluded that it was not. In fact it was included in the online resource but Google could not make that determination.
- The first couple of pages of Google results don’t answer your question. Usually the most useful results of a Google search are on the first page, sometimes the second. There is rarely anything useful beyond the second page. If you find yourself looking at the 4th page of a google search, vary your search terms or consider a more appropriate resource.