April 30, 2013

Poor Jason Collins: Google breaks Google Gaydar just in time for his coming out

Last year, I pointed out in Taki's the unintended existence of what I called Google Gaydar. Go to the home page of Google.com and type in the name of a celebrity, then hit the space bar. Google gives you ten possible auto-complete prompts based on what others have typed. If the celebrity is the subject of gay rumors, one of the first prompts will be the word "gay." If that doesn't come up, you can add the letter "g" and see if "gay" comes up. 

For example, Bill Murray got a 0 on Google Gaydar, with the word "gay" never being prompted by Google in either situation. With Kevin Spacey, however, "gay" was the first prompt. 

It was an interesting tool for gauging, for whatever they are worth, public perceptions and rumors, the Undernews.

But now Google has broken Google Gaydar. The prompt system still works, but "gay" won't be offered as prompt. You can type in even "Harvey Fierstein g" and still not get "gay" as a prompt. Today, the first g prompt for the out Broadway actor who often performs in drag is "gerbil" -- that's okay with Google, but "gay" is not. 

Ironically, aged basketball player Jason Collins's carefully choreographed coming out party in the media is snagged on this too: Google's first prompt for "Jason Collins g" is "girlfriend." "Gay" won't come up as a prompt for Collins. Google is trying to force him back into the closet!

Bing Gaydar still seems to work, though.

If you pay attention to Google, you'll notice a lot of oddities like this that come and go. In 2010, I pointed out that Pat Buchanan had been deleted from Google's prompting system. You could type in "Pat Bu" and be prompted with
Pat Burrell
Pat bus schedule
Pat Buttram
Pat Burrell stats
Pat Burns
Pat Burrell wife
Pat Burke
Pat Buckley Moss
Pat Buckley
Pat Burns cancer

But not with the name of the devil incarnate Pat Buchanan. (On Bing, at the time, he was the first prompt.)

Now, however, Pat is back in the good graces of Google Prompt and comes up first.

What happened? Who knows? Nobody was all that interested in asking. My impression is that the media is slightly terrified of Google. The search firm has so much power that all we can do  is hope they live up their motto "Don't be evil," because if they don't, whaddaya whaddaya?

My guess is that these weird events are not generally part of a Conspiracy that Goes All the Way to the Top with Sergey and Larry sitting around deciding who they are going to mess with today.

Instead, my guess is that on the inside, Google is a big ball of twine, with lots of low-level employees having fiefdoms over chunks of the extremely complicated code. If an individual Google worker gets bored and decides to screw with individuals or websites that he doesn't like, he can get away with it for awhile, especially if it's intermittent and thus not always replicable.

For example, I notice that most of the time my posts pop right up in searches, but some fraction of the time, Google forgets about my posts except for my weekly archives. Right now, for example if I type in "Steve Sailer Hart Risley" I get excellent search results to individual posts I've done. Other times, however, I only get links to Blog Archive 10/7/2011 - 10/13/2011 or whatever. This can go on for a few hours, then go back to working right.

Is this just accidental or is some clever Googleite screwing around by creating non-replicable problems for objects of his ire? Who knows? And nobody seems that interested in finding out.


Beefy Levinson said...

What do you have against the immortal Pat Buttram?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, they have a big list of words that are forbidden. These are usually sexual in nature, thus the obvious search:

lindsay lohan nu

...recommends nothing. Since it's policy to avoid certain words, I'm guessing they have some weekly meeting and frequently tweak it, and one day "gay" made the list. It still works at Bing. My advice to microsoft is to not copy google on this one.

Anonymous said...

OT, but thought you'd be interested this "Chicago Story." I suppose we know whom the libs will make out to be the villains.


Anonymous said...

It's like google thinks being gay is something to be ashamed of.

Anonymous said...

"the devil incarnate Pat Buchanan"

More like the best president America never had, Pat Buchanan.

Seriously, what possible competition does he have for that title?

Charles Francis Adams?

anony-mouse said...

Don't you have any imagination, Steve? The Gaydar is still there.

Just put in '(name)homose'

I tested it. Works with every real or rumored gay name I put in.

diana said...

Ha, but the truth has the last word. Jason Collins' ex fiancee is the subject of a TMZ exclusive:


She wins the Darwin award. Plays in a lesbian league, coulnd't tell that her BF was on the downlow.

I wonder if he had to tell her he was black?

Anonymous said...

Racists are doubleplusungood unpersons.

Derb's Mossberg said...

There's your next project Steve. Create a google-like search engine with no PC filters to it (I'm sure Bing must have at least some). Let it get known that SteveSearch is the place to go if you don't like being screwed with by the ThoughtNazis, and watch it grow by leaps and bounds.

PropagandistHacker said...

bet he is not gay at all--he is just using it as a springboard to a talking head gig

Icepick said...

What do you have against the immortal Pat Buttram?

Beefy, was he gay?

Anonymous said...

Not to be a Google-defender or nothing- they don't need it. But there have been lawsuits threatened over the search recommendations. You can see how "Tom Cruise g" might be problematic under some legal circumstances. Doesn't explain Pat Buchanan becoming a non-person though.

countenance said...

Now we find out his one time (white) fiancee never had an inking that he was LGBTQMIAPDLOLPLPLTH. I'm starting to think his gayness is a scam.

john marzan said...

"ken mehlman gay" shows up, but dan savage doesnt. what does google have against the former RNC chairman?

Anonymous said...

It's a great question. Why are google search results inconsistent? I recall once inserting the number of google hits from a particular search into a research paper, and when it was checked the number of hits was much different.

David said...

Somebody somewhere had a comment that bears repeating:

Let's say you have two co-workers. Both behave like regular people. But one of them often says in self-reminder, "Don't be evil." Which one do you prefer to be around?

Anonymous said...

I read an article once on how Google's feature-testing works. Basically, they can test multiple features at the same time by giving different search services to people in different parts of the country. So at any given hour, the search you do in California may not provide the same results as one in New York.

Maybe when Pat Buchanan was out momentarily, they were experimenting with a search algorithm that wouldn't return "hate speech" results or something like that. It didn't work well, now Pat is back. You never know.

Sorry I don't remember where the article was. Maybe WIRED.

Anonymous said...

Type Cesar Romero g. You get Cesar Romero Gay Rumor. I didn't realize it was a rumor. I thought it was an established fact.

Anonymous said...

Hm. Maybe it isn't a managerial-level conspiracy to suppress certain ideas. But then again maybe it is...

Bing all the way for me.

Mr. Anon said...

"It was an interesting tool for gauging, for whatever they are worth, public perceptions and rumors, the Undernews."

"Undernews" - that's a great coinage, Steve. Is it yours? Sounds good in german too - "Unternachricht". It deserves to take its place with zeitgeist, schadenfreude, and other german intellectual-like terms.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Google do the same thing with Islam a while back? Btw, whenever I type in Steve Sailer the first thing that Google big-brother-think throws at me is "racist". Wouldn't you just know it?

CF Adams said...

Charles Francis Adams?

Nah. Do you know what a-holes my family predecessors were? Especially JQA. He was a total dick! (Even worse than his dad, so Andy J. was right to loathe him.) I could never have matched their standard of tooldom. It's a sad thing to have forebears you can't live up to…

Aaron Gross said...

Google seems to have unplugged their J-dar as well. It was once reported that "Rupert Murdoch" completed to "Jewish" as the first choice (without any "J" prompt). Now even "Rupert Murdoch J" won't give it to you, as any choice.

"Scarlett Johansson J", same story. "Woody Allen J": "jazz", "jesus", "jokes", "james bond".

All this was at www.google.com/ncr, by the way. Just as an experiment, I tried "Scarlett Johansson" there, at www.google.co.uk, and at www.google.co.il. Completed to "hot", "hot", and "bra size", respectively.

Are there any Google radars still enabled anywhere?

Anonymous said...

The nice thing for Google about their system is it doesn't matter if it's full of bugs! (Same for other extract/ranking systems.)

Seriously, if the code in your car's braking system has a single bug, you have a problem. Google's code can have lots of bugs in it and... who can say it matters? Who can tell for sure the bugs are even there? People probably won't even notice. Nice software business to be in.

(It's the difference between "hard" exact deterministic results and "fuzzy" results...)

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

I almost just melted thinking this... Clearly, the most awesome thing in recent memory (cf. the double-bacon cheeseburger I cooked about a week ago and drank with a glass of local syrah rose) would be if tomorrow Jason Collins held a press conference and said ... "ha, just kidding"

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

Steve, quit clicking between the Dodgers and the Clippers and approve my last comment. I want to read it again just to make myself laugh.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Seriously, what possible competition does he have for that title?

Strom Thurmond?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Google is extra sensitive about homophobia because they're worried about losing top gay talent?

"Same-Sex Marriage Rules Hamper Wall Street’s Recruiting"


"U.S. restrictions on same-sex marriage are making it harder for Wall Street to attract some foreign workers, said executives including R. Martin Chavez, who leads equities trading for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)

The rules don’t allow citizens and permanent residents to sponsor same-sex partners for immigration to the U.S., according to Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, who moderated a panel of executives yesterday at the annual summit of Out on the Street, an advocacy group for Wall Street’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers."

Ex Submarine Officer said...


A meme is born... I'm running with it.

Anonymous said...

She wins the Darwin award. Plays in a lesbian league, coulnd't tell that her BF was on the downlow.

She looks like a transsexual to boot.

Anonymous said...


so this didn't count?

Anonymous said...

So easy to a hero these days.

Magic Johnson was a hero.... cuz he got HIV and came out with it. Wow, what a great man!
Bush I got into the act by appointing Johnson to head some AIDS committee, but Johnson quit soon after complaining that Bush wasn't doing enough.

Bush I sucks up to Magic, and Bush II sends tens of billions to Africa to fight AIDS, but blacks, libs, Jews, and homos still hate cons.

Ian said...

Reminds me of this:



It all seems to me like partially Big Brother/Cathedral thought police-y, but, even more than that, just big boring corporation pussy-ish CYA-ness.

Anonymous said...

Oh Christ he's on about Google rankings again... Steve: supposing you're genuinely interested in the heuristic it's a profitable field of inquiry yielding many lengthy researched publications written by people who actually followed computer science after DOS was replaced. Don't just mouth off like a housewife on your blog--if the abstract academia treatment is not to your liking you could always start here.

squeaky wheel contraption said...

Being censored by Google is a funny recurring HBD/paleo/WN cliched bugaboo; once we commenters were yakking idly about it on some TakiMag DISQUS page (I dunno which column--pretty much everything there eventually boils down to this topic) and somebody pointed out that a dedicated URL had been fashioned to salve the perpetually offended:


...except this very solemn disclaimer is thrown by the big query machine even when you haven't located anti-Zionist materials at all, but might just be looking up something that, lamentably, involves the radioactive adjective. When I simply search for "burlington jewish" right now (w/o delimiters)--maybe curious to estimate # of synagogues in upper Vermont--Google still wants me to know it's concerned about whatever I may or may not find.

The choice of exemplum gratum the Googlers chose in that explanatory page is a hoot, too... Ah, the joys of armchair shadowboxing

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that Dennis Mangan is a total non-entity for Google. You wouldn't know he has a blog if you use Google.

peterike said...

Seriously, what possible competition does he have for that title?

George Wallace, obviously.

"If the Vietnam War was not winnable within 90 days of his taking office, Wallace pledged an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops ... Wallace described foreign aid as money 'poured down a rat hole' and demanded that European and Asian allies pay more for their defense."

In 1968, when Wallace pledged that "If some anarchist lies down in front of my automobile, it will be the last automobile he will ever lie down in front of," and asserted that the only four letter words of which hippies did not know were w-o-r-k and s-o-a-p; his rhetoric became famous.

Wallace said, "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats."

Christopher Paul said...

The Undernews is a Mickey Kaus coinage.

Cail Corishev said...

Google big-brother-think

For those who don't know, the way these auto-complete things work is that they keep track of what searches people do and how often, and then they use that data to try to guess what you might be trying to type. So if it completes "Steve Sailer" with " racist," that's because a lot of people have searched for that. Which isn't surprising, since Steve gets called that a lot.

The point is, Google drones aren't sitting there typing in all these search phrases. They don't have nearly enough drones for that. The phrases are in there because ordinary people are searching for them. So if "Tom Cruise gay" comes up high, as I assume it used to, that's because a lot of people are interested in his gayness.

What Google does have enough drones for is filtering out certain words or phrases, and that's what it sounds like they're doing here. That's not to say someone couldn't slip this into the code:

if( $query eq 'Steve Sailer' ){

But it's not likely, because that would only work for that one specific search. It's far more likely that they're doing stuff like this:

if( $query->contains_celebrity() and
$query->contains_hateword() ){

Taking out the stuff they consider hateful, in other words, while letting hateful stuff they agree with stay in the database and even move up to take the empty spots.

Paul Mendez said...

bet he is not gay at all--he is just using it as a springboard to a talking head gig.

My suspicion, too.

I read somewhere that part of Pablo Picasso's fame was due to the fact that he would allow gay art dealers and critics to blow him.

bluto said...

I'd throw Henery Clay or Ben Franklin into the running for best president America never had, as well.

Anonymous said...

Terminology question.

He had a girl friend.

Doesn't this make him bisexual?

(I have a feeling I'm going to be properly educated, which is good)


Jerry said...

google also won't suggest piratebay.

David said...

Have you tried "Collins su"?

Anonymous said...

"Jason Collins' coming out could land him contract, cash, new career: experts"


"He's gone from being a no-name center to the center of attention, and experts say NBA free agent Jason Collins could parlay his decision to come out of the closet into a contract with a new team, endorsement deals, or even a robust off-the-court career.

Collins is a well-liked journeyman player with 12 seasons under his belt, but before his Monday announcement in Sports Illustrated that he's gay, the 34-year-old big man was hardly a lock to be picked up for next season.

Jeff Nelson, director of analytics for the sports-marketing firm Navigate Research, said there are likely conversations afoot in front offices across the league about whether Collins' new profile makes him a more attractive player.

"It would be great for him, great for the cause, great for the NBA if he was signed for another year," Nelson said. "But by the same token, you don't want it to appear that's the reason he's being signed."

Having Collins on the roster could also enhance a team's community credentials.

"His career might be extended because a team — and particularly the NBA — might see it as an opportunity to demonstrate that this announcement is a non-issue for them," said professor Stephen McDaniel, who specializes in sports and entertainment marketing at the University of Maryland.

"Not that he is in the same strata as an athlete, but maybe you could argue that a team or league could see this symbolic of being inclusive in the same way we view the Dodgers and Jackie Robinson in baseball."

It could even put more bodies in the seats, but the real benefit will be for Collins, who is now on the radar of sponsors.

His only current endorsement deal is with Nike, which said in a statement that it's proud of his "courage." Experts say if he has a jersey to wear next season, Nike could raise his profile and other brands will likely consider him.

"I don't think you'll see him on a Wheaties box," said Robert Tuchman, former president of TSE Sports & Entertainment, who noted that big mainstream brands may be more cautious in embracing an athlete whose name is so closely associated with a hot-button social issue.

"But there are going to be brands that want to get behind him," he added. "I think you'll see brands that are more hip and cool and really in touch with 18-25 [year-old demographic]."

C. Van Carter said...

It still works for Liberace, Rob Halford, Obama, and Jesus.

Svigor said...

"But there are going to be brands that want to get behind him," he added. "I think you'll see brands that are more hip and cool and really in touch with 18-25 [year-old demographic]."

Translation: maybe this will drive away black viewers and bring in SWPL viewers.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Gross wrote: 'All this was at www.google.com/ncr, by the way. Just as an experiment, I tried "Scarlett Johansson" there, at www.google.co.uk, and at www.google.co.il. Completed to "hot", "hot", and "bra size", respectively.'

Yeah, but searching סקרלט ג'והנסון gives you סקרלט ג'והנסון יהודיה as the second result...

Anonymous said...

countenance said...
Now we find out his one time (white) fiancee never had an inking that he was LGBTQMIAPDLOLPLPLTH. I'm starting to think his gayness is a scam.
It might be.

Some people think Magic Johnson pulled the same stunt by claiming to be HIV positive.

Thomas O. Meehan said...

Amazon has some of this little people censorship in place as well. About a year ago I bought some cheap surgical implements through them. When asked for feedback I mentioned that they were suitable for hobbiest use but were made in Pakistan and were not reliable for their intended purpose.

About six months later I got an notice from Amazon that my feedback was expunged as it violated some terms of use. In fact there was no written definition covering my violation. Clearly, mentioning the shortcomings of Pakistani products set off some of Amazons many subcontinent and sub-competent employees.