Peak Search Results

Posted On: Thursday - March 30th 2023 5:20PM MST
In Topics: 
  Internets  Websites  Curmudgeonry

There is such a thing as a search in the real world, but we mean on the internet here. I left that out to keep the title short, as I did, just as importantly, the world "useful". We're talking Peak Useful Internet Search Results, really.

Has this peaked? From my experience it most certainly has. This is the case for searches for non-political, information, while the direct censorship, delisting, unfair ordering, etc. are a whole 'nother story, that's not the subject of this post.

I can remember the very first internet search I ever undertook. It was neither a search for girly pictures or for cat videos. It was a search for "Northwest Territory shirts". Sometime in 1994, I'm pretty sure, I was trying to stock up on well-made flannel shirts from these people and the store (K-Mart or Target) no longer carried them. I didn't expect to buy them on-line and, in fact, couldn't imagine doing that. I just wanted a company phone number or anything to lead me to more shirts. That search was unsuccessful. Not enough information was on the web yet,

As an aside (which I'm pretty sure I wrote about already, but speaking of bad, actually MISSING search programming, I can't find it), I had no idea what was going on with a computer on the internet in those mid-1990s - til about '97. I went to this one hour "Intro. to the Internet" class at the library that confused me even more with talk of "The Archie" and "The Veronica" and "The Gopher". (Thank you, Alarmist.) All they needed to tell me was: "You are using the 'browser' program. It displays the information coming through the modem with special formatting to show this web 'page'. That formatting stuff is called 'HTML'. The search engine is just another website that has some programming which sends another web page back to you." 5 minutes of that sort of thing would have sufficed.

That leads me to another quick digression, one which is also in the footnote of the link above. Search "engine' is the term they use. I hate that. Software people love to appropriate terms that come from the real mechanical/electrical world. It makes them feel like engineers, which is the BIG ONE, that use of "engineering" for what's not. I'll use search "site" or "program" instead of "engine". None of these search sites are "a machine that converts energy into mechanical force or motion.".

That "Archie" thingy, as I just now found out, was one of the very early search engines. I'm sure I around on the internet for stuff after that shirt search, but, without a computer at home, I can only remember any real use of these sites starting in 1998.

By about that time, you had your yahoo's, your alta-vistas, your infoseeks, your lycoses, your excites, your askjeeves (later just ask), and even your dogpiles. Yeah, and I don't know who picked the name of that latter site, and that one gathered info from other search engines. Only 3 of those I was able to write here from recall memory, and my search just now had others that I didn't include because I just don't recognize them now.*

It was really hit-or-miss with the searches then. I felt lucky fo find good results for a page that wasn't on a regularly-used website, say a popular news site. There was also not THAT much on the web in the late 1990s, compared to today. One of the sites I listed above was a cut above the rest though, but when google came along, it all changed. Hate 'em now, sure... definitely, but it was really nice to have a good chance of getting useful results by using google. That's how the company became successful, by giving useful search results.**

We got into the heyday of useful internet searching. The programming behind these sites got more and more sophisticated, and the www has contained a greatly and ever-increasing amount of information on it since the beginning. How would we get to a peak in this searching business though?

On results pages, I find that there is just too chaff now, distracting me from a target that may be on page 17 (which most of us never look at). I see 3 factors:

1) The big sales sites often take up the top spots. This happens not just when I put in a noun for something that's for sale on the web, but even when I put more terms in that make it obvious I'm not looking to buy said thing.

2) Websites that create search-matching blurbs that are bogus. This is the most annoying to me, as, same as with junk mail, I hate being the sucker that clicks there. You put in "Virginia laws about blah" and it'll have just that in the blurb. The site will have some basic information about the laws on "blah" in general, but will not have "Virginia" in it. This blurb will show up with Tennessee in it if your search with "Tennessee laws about blah".

I don't know how these ones work. The web crawler program has got to find both parts on one page, and how does the blurb that you won't find on the site get put into the database as it appears by the search programming? These assholes must have some clever algorithms, but I detest their wasting of my time just as with the clever of the junk mailers.

3) An inordinate amount of information on the web. That should be good, of course. You may very well get 20 blurbs that are pretty close to what you searched for, but you can't find the right extra word(s) to help the programming pull out what you really want. Maybe it's just asking too much, or, I'm not doing it right.

Getting useful results from an internet search has gotten harder over the last few years. When was Peak Search? I say, somewhere in '10 to '15, but you all let me know your ideas on this.

Finally, even with the best and most honest search programming in the world, back in September '18 Peak Stupidity compared Search "Engines" vs. Real Experts, and concluded that sometimes the latter can save us googles of time.

* BTW, the wiki page on older search engines did a terrible job.

** Successful as far as customer usage, that is. As far as google's success as a spy operation, well, I and most customers didn't understand that yet. Many people still don't.

Monday - April 3rd 2023 10:12AM MST
PS: "Moderator wrote: "Tic-Tok is designed to be ADDICTIVE""

I have a tab still open with an article about that. It opened my eyes to what makes Tic-Tok tick. That said, I don't guess I will ever open the Tic-tok app.
Adam Smith
Saturday - April 1st 2023 8:54PM MST
PS: Cheers to a great evening,

What the--?


Saturday - April 1st 2023 2:31PM MST

Moderator wrote: "Tic-Tok is designed to be ADDICTIVE"

Referencing your next post at --

-- the data in the video stopped in Dec. 2021/Jan. 2022. As of that time Tik-Tok was NOT in the top-ten most-visited websites (per that data). I wonder how close Tik-Tok came to the top-ten.

I wouldn't have hoped it could get as big as it did.

I believe Tik-Tok shows the tendency of things to become worse over time, or to be taken over by crazies and unstable people. (Cf.: the State of California.)
Saturday - April 1st 2023 2:06PM MST

RE: Mr. Kief says: "Steve Sailer liked this one (2017 article 'THE NEW FAR RIGHT: Meet the Man Who Invented Identity Politics for the New Right') actually - not totally, esp. not the headline. I guess - but all in all, he did. As did I and other commenters."

I think I read it at the time, too, and you're right it wasn't the kind of crazed attack one might expect from the title. However, if a search-engine wants to present time-relevant results, we might expect it to give higher ranking to 2023 articles than scare-headline 2017 articles.

By the way: In the past few years I've made a little hobby of Sailer Searching in libraries. If I am visiting a library, I search for a sections of the stacks that have titles on U.S. politics, or "racism," or related subjects that might mention Steve Sailer. I pick out a few books to see if they have indexes, and guess based on title and blurb if they will have a Sailer mention or not. One can play this game with professionally made books that have indexes. Back we go t the index, the letter "S" for "Sailer." I can also check other terms (no results so far under "P" for Peak Stupidity).

Books like the ones I mean published in the USA in the period about 2018 to 2022 --- and there are many, and left-wing librarians are likely to order them -- actually very often mention Steve Sailer.

I don't have time or interest in reading these books in full, but doing that kind of quick shelf browsing and index-reading goes fast. From what portions of these books I have read, they are sometimes really wrongheaded in their approach and blinded by ideology.

Many people misunderstand Sailer, but that is only a part of their misunderstanding of the entire picture of the West. Still in 2023 it persists, the political grayness, drizzle, gloom. But we hope for a brighter day someday.
Saturday - April 1st 2023 1:55PM MST

RE: one item from Adam Smith's mega-list:

What the--?

Mr Kief, do you know anything about this?
Saturday - April 1st 2023 11:06AM MST
PS I still have a few of those shirts in my closet-flannel I think-won't wear out
Dieter Kief
Saturday - April 1st 2023 12:06AM MST
Re: Mr. Hail Steve Sailer search-results - this article popping up at the top:

- "THE NEW FAR RIGHT: Meet the Man Who Invented Identity Politics for the New Right," April 2017, NYMag, by Park MacDougald and Jason Willick

Steve Sailer liked this one actually - not totally, esp. not the headline. I guess - but all in all, he did. As did I and other commenters. NYM seems to have hid the article behind a rather dark headline. You feel the Sailer-tension if you look at this double-bind-message.
I've read quite some articles by Helen Andrews in the last two years. She's a good one.
(Compact Mag - any ideas?)
Adam Smith
Friday - March 31st 2023 11:02PM MST
PS: Good evening, Mr. Moderator,

AudioGalaxy was great. I never used napster because AudioGalaxy provided me with most everything I wanted. This would have been the late 90's, windows 98se, accessing the internet with the 56k modem.

AudioGalaxy was just a simple search engine for individual .mp3 files. I cue up 40 or 50 files in a download manager and let the modem run all night long. In the morning I'd look to see what came in and I'd have like 25 new songs!

It worked great until one day I went to get some songs and every song said copyright and the links no longer worked.

Adam Smith
Friday - March 31st 2023 10:47PM MST
PS: List of Alternative Search Engines

The Alarmist
Friday - March 31st 2023 6:21AM MST

This laff out of Germany:

“First Arabic street sign in Germany vandalized within days of installation”

What makes this funny is that the perps somewhat artistically renamed it Karl-Martell-Strasse, after Charles “the Hammer” Martell, the Duke and Prince of Frankia who drove the Arabs out of France after beating them at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.

If you can see the picture, the Arabic script has been replaced with a Knight on horse pointing his lance at the running invaders.


Of course the police are investigating, even though a group has taken credit:

“Revolte Rheinland, a right-wing group has claimed responsibility for the vandalism. In a social media post on Telegram, they wrote: “So that this distortion of history and gesture of submission does not go unanswered, activists not only covered the sign of shame last night, but also renamed the entire street after a great European who, almost 1,300 years ago stopped the Islamic land grab.””
Friday - March 31st 2023 5:12AM MST
PS: Dieter, it's not even mostly hardware, but yes, just tell me the basic components and what's going on generally. The people teaching the class knew nothing more than me other than some terms and where to click. (I could have figured the latter out, but I wanted to know HOW the internet works - not in Berners-Lee detail! - not how you use it.)

:GOPHER", that's IT, Alarmist. Thank you very much - it just wouldn't come to me. I even knew it started with a "g". I'll insert that in the post.

As for Tic-Tok, I will 2nd some of what Mr. Hail wrote. (We've been writing about the same time.) I'm sure you know how to make use of it for what you need. I've never set foot on those servers, but from what I read in a good comment under iSteve, or maybe it was Steve himself, Tic-Tok is designed to be ADDICTIVE. From what I gather, if you tell the program you like one video or meme, maybe even if it just figures you like it from your views of it, it provides you with more and more stuff just like that, and like the others, and like those others ... The software is probably pretty amazing, but the whole idea is destructive to those who wish to live in a non-internet-cloistered world, i.e. they like to get REAL things done.
Friday - March 31st 2023 5:03AM MST
PS: Adam, I don't remember AudioGalaxy myself. Was it a search site for music, as one would assume? Speaking of that, I could search for you list of the modern search sites you recommended, per Mr. Hail, but... errr, searching here is as of yet nonexistent. (Except for me, when I get on the dBase, but that's easier on another device.)

I do use Yandex. I've not found it that awful helpful, but it is probably better on political questions. I use the following 5 to promote just the string "Peak Stupidity": google, bing, duckduckgo, yahoo, and yandex. (Whether one likes these people and their shenanigans or not, google is still by far #1, so I want to make sure that search works RIGHT for them. This IS Peak Stupidity, and there is none other!)
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:58AM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, I am sorry for your travails with the censorship of google, et al. That wasn't the subject of this post - there's a WHOLE LOT more to say about that. The internet is Wal-Marting the small guys now, is that kind of what you're saying? The Kung Flu PanicFest may have exacerbated this trend too, as people went to amazon for stuff - and Wal-Mart was essential, of course! - and spend even more time on anti-social media.

How we mark Peak Search should depend on the definition, as you say. I my mind, it's how I can find information on some general topic, technical, historic, political, etc. The latter is especially influenced by censorship, but that doesn't mean a user who talked into his phone to find info on the Kung Flu won't figure his search was successful. He'll just never get to your site, with your 15 or more post in your series about the PanicFest. Instead, he'll get the info from the CDC or an announcement by Fauci.

So, one definition would be do you get useful and TRUTHFUL the best, in other words. Another is if you get plenty of blurbs that purport to tell you what's what. Whether you care or not, or more likely, understand what's going on or not, is another story.

I meant to write a post on snopes, BTW. Some searches give results with their "debunking" blurbs at the top, and others too, taking up the first page. In the meantime, the sites that try to give the information that snopes, et al, debunks are farther down! This is nefarious. The snopes people are flat-out liars, as I found out with some info. they had on vaccinations of certain people.
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:50AM MST

RE: Mr. Kief, "Helen Andres wrote a Steve Sailer portrait for Compact Mag. I used google-search to find it - first hit on top of the list - - - so: This one was Fine!"

I don't have full information on how Google works, but I have noticed a few tendencies. One is this: The "Compact Mag" article may be easy to find if you are looking specifically for it, but may be much harder to find if you don't have the exact right word.

I tried "Steve Sailer magazine article" on Google and got, in this order:

- "THE NEW FAR RIGHT: Meet the Man Who Invented Identity Politics for the New Right," April 2017, NYMag, by Park MacDougald and Jason Willick

- "Extremist Steve Sailer is Source for CNN's 'Black in America' series," by David Holthouse, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2008 (!)

- Steve Sailer Wikipedia page

- COmpactMag article

- TakiMag archive


Another often-seen tactic is this: The CompactMag article may be de-listed or down-listed in the future and it may be harder to find in 2025 than now. But these old anti-Sailer articles, one from 2017 and one from 2008, are the top results now.
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:47AM MST
PS: As for your larger point in your first comment, Mr. Hail, that's something I too have noticed. Books are used very differently now, once they were able to be made to be viewed on screens. We have some company manuals that for which I barely know what the chapters are and in what order. To find info, you just use the magnifying glass icon search feature. (It's pretty good, because I am not searching in the blind like on the web - I know a lot about what I'm looking for, but want to get the details, and I also KNOW absolutely 95% of the time that the answer is in there.)

However, it's only because I did use these books on paper that I even remember the chapter order and generally what is in each one. (They haven't changed them much.) For people who've been there for 6 years (?) or less, I wonder if they picture these books as just a mass of info like those CD ROM or the internet.

I meant to write you in my last comment that I DO remember CD-ROMS myself. They were amazing for the time. Mavis Beacon typing and Whatever Happened to Carmen San Diego were a couple of the learning systems I remember on CD-ROM. Who knew there was this thing called the www in 1992? Not this guy!
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:44AM MST

A caveat on Twitter :

While I am against Twitter and view it as harmful, one useful thing is how you can search words used by specific accounts in specific time periods. For prolific tweeters with thousands and tens of thousands of tweets, this can be a powerful tool. But of course not many people do this, and the negatives of Twitter outweigh it.


BTW --- in case any are unaware: Dieter Kief has begun a Twitter career.

He posts ('tweets') photos he took but mostly it is semi-daily thoughts auf Deutsch and in English. He has now passed Kief's Daily Musings No. 57 (it is on the 18th-century Swiss anatomist Albrecht von Haller).

It is a convenient way to publish, but it can be difficult to find the material and mostly the content is necessarily longer than the character-limit so always is in tweet-threads. In some ways it feels like the 'good' content on Twitter often is raw material, almost like note-taking or a first-draft that later could possibly turn into something useful. I tried this method twice so far myself.
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:41AM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, re: your 1st comment, I surely didn't remember that about the term from the CD-ROM era. Thanks for that correction in that it wasn't the software people who pulled out this term... THIS TIME. However, they do this to my annoyance a lot.

I was working at a software job, though not of that background and was informed "we are porting the database from MS SQL to Oracle". Seriously, I had in my head a big multi-conductor cable going between two computers. Finally, "oh, you mean you're re-writing it?" "Whyncha just say that?!" But that last part I didn't say out loud, because I was new at the job and I had to get used to the terminology. They were good people, anyway...
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:30AM MST

RE: The Alarmist, on Tik-Tok as "search engine"

If Tik-Tok qualifies as a search-engine, then so does Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Indeed there is a tendency for Twitter people to simply input into the Twitter search-bar any topic they want and live high off the hog of prolefeed Twitter-info they get fed.

Twitter is a deeply artificial environment driven, to a great extent, by unstable crazies and narcissists, is not a level playing field with what can get seen, and is known to be overseen by the intel agencies, among possible other problems. The concept of "doomscrolling" was coined for social media, not for 'traditional' search engines. But still some people use Twitter as a search engine.

Tik-Tok I believe has problems of similar type to what I just describe for Twitter but probably worse in many key ways unrelated to the role of China one way or the other.
Friday - March 31st 2023 4:24AM MST

One search-engine I have seen good results with is:

It is not at all well known. It delivers results that resemble those of an earlier era this post talks about. is also good.

At one time on this website, Adam Smith's Master List of Alternative Search Engines was posted. It had about ten items.
The Alarmist
Friday - March 31st 2023 3:08AM MST

Archie was THE search engine of its day, telnetting its way through various ftp sites and indexing the files stored on them. There was also gopher, but that was a dead end once http became widespread. Flaming is what you got any time you tried to do anything useful (commercial) on the net, until the web got so many ordinary people online that the old ‘purists’ (freeloaders operating via university budgets) had to slink off to the dark corners of their universities.

The mass censoring of western search engines is yet another reason all the cool kids and some old folks are going to TikTok, which is a search engine and so much more. TikTok is eating Silicon Valley’s lunch revenue-wise, and Zuckerburg et al have lobbied hard to kill it. That is the real story why the Congress Critters are lining up to kill it and further clamp down on the internet in the Land of the Free™️.
Dieter Kief
Thursday - March 30th 2023 11:40PM MST

This is, as you rightfully emphasize, what's up & counting in this context hardware wise:
"You are using the 'browser' program. It displays the information coming through the modem with special formatting to show this web 'page'. That formatting stuff is called 'HTML'. The search engine is just another website that has some programming which sends another web page back to you."

This is the William of Occam way to do it. I think it is of much importance to understand this concept -especially for teaching grown ups. - Hat tip, Mod.

Since you mentioned the search for Steve Sailer, Mr. Hail: 
The very good journalist  Helen Andres wrote a Steve Sailer portrait for Compact Mag. I used google-search to find it - first hit on top of the list - - - so: This one was Fine!

Here is Steve's article about this paywalled article with some quotes from it:

"Behind Steve Sailer's Rise", by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review
Adam Smith
Thursday - March 30th 2023 9:29PM MST
PS: ???

Anyone else remember AudioGalaxy?

Thursday - March 30th 2023 8:59PM MST

"Getting useful results from an internet search has gotten harder over the last few years. When was Peak Search? I say, somewhere in '10 to '15, but you all let me know your ideas on this."

I like the idea of the question, but you are really implicitly asking for a definition of the concept "Peak Search" with the question.

By one definition of Peak Search, it is right now. See my previous comment: People have successfully been trained to outsource all thinking to Googling. This is, I think, more common in 2023 than it had been in 2013, the mid-point of your proposed Peak Search period. A class of people has been trained to think that all relevant info in the universe is found by this method. It is maybe less a problem of bad info, spam, scams, and bot-clutter, with sneering Big Tech info-enforcers behind the curtain to bash the heads of little guys; it is maybe more a problem of mentality. Even older people, who remember the pre-"search engine" days, will often bow to this new normal.

If the definition of Peak Search is something more like "quality of results," that is inevitably subjective and anyway "what does it matter" for most. People doing really vanilla searches like location of the nearest grocery store will still get results. The name of the college Trump attended and what year he graduated. They'll get that. If they look up Steve Sailer, they'll learn that he is a neo-nazi extremist. Who is the humble google-searcher to argue with these facts? SPLC, ADL, Wikipedia, and other Hate Experts all agree. (My point is most people are not well-equipped to to wheat-and-chaff evaluations.)
Thursday - March 30th 2023 8:46PM MST

RE: Decline in quality of "search engines" (especially Google)

People who began encountering "the Internet" in the 1990s and 2000s did not fully understand what they were dealing with, the potential of this thing, and the social-cultural trajectory it was putting us on.

I have seen the changes from two sides. One is as an end-user noticing the same decline in useful results (it's mostly scams and spam, and many top-listed results seem to be written by bots or code of some kind, which is disturbing and raises some questions).

From the other side, I've seen the huge fall-off in traffic at the HailToYou site (and certain other projects)> When I began the site in early 2011, for some years there were pretty steady flows of traffic coming in via keyword-searchers and links. By late 2017, the site was greylisted and blacklisted and suppressed. In 2020 it was even more suppressed. I get very little traffic flow from search engines now. The site is often not indexed and new posts don't even appear in search results. The entire site is actually ghosted (China Internet-style) from some search engines. Sometimes specific posts get delisted, and traffic falls to zero or near zero on them.

There are a variety of tricks they use, and enforcement also varies by country. Mr. Kief informs of a "Warning: Unsafe content!" message that greets users in Germany trying to access the site. Speaking of which, C. J. Hopkins had his site hit by Twitter with this message: "Warning: unsafe content; are you SURE you want to click onto this website?" beginning about 2021 -- whenever a link to his site appeared anywhere in the "Twitterverse," the user had to click back to safety or find the tiny "Ok. I'll take my chances"-style bypass button hidden down in a bottom corner.

This suppression via behind-the-curtain Big Tech machinations is pretty discouraging, not just for the much lower traffic but also because they think the persons affected are too stupid to realize it and that the censors are smarter and wiser doing it for the greater good (a Talmudic info-management strategy). That's "Big Tech" for you.

Now to return to the point I started making in the first paragraph of this comment, people did not understand what the Internet was, and I think still don't. Very large numbers now outsource much of their thinking to the Internet, everyone an insta-expert via a Google search on a smartphone and clicking the first link, or just reading the Google-suggested response. People have been trained to do this. It probably requires a big social-movement pushback, which may be coming but so far we don't see it on the horizon. It has to come, if we are to keep our humanity. In the 1990s, the Internet seemed liberating, but by circa-2020 it looked more like the opposite. The real rebel of our time may be the reader of paper books.
Thursday - March 30th 2023 8:27PM MST

The earliest uses of term "search engine" I find is this:

Chicago Tribune, March 20, 1988, "CD-Rom rolls along, answering data-retrieval needs," by (technology journalist) Dana Blankenhorn.

And all the subsequent uses of the term "search engine" up through at least 1994 refer to CD-Roms.
Thursday - March 30th 2023 8:21PM MST

correction, should read:

- On the CD-Rom as the origin of the term "search engine" -
Thursday - March 30th 2023 8:20PM MST

- On CD-Rom as origin the term "search engine" -

It seems that the term "search engine" did NOT emerge with the "world wide web" at all. Rather it had been first coined some years earlier, associated with CD-Roms.

Back in the CD-Rom era, the idea was that large amounts of info were stored on one sleek, futuristic-looking disc. It resembled a music CD but able to give you so much more. You could buy a certain CD-Rom, slide it into the proper port in your computer, run the program, and all of a sudden have all this info at hand. After a few years of CD-Rom technology, they began adapting the product and allowing searches for keywords to boost sales, and some marketer may have coined the term "search engine" to describe it. This was in the early 1990s. I find a use as of 1991, and many many more in the following few years, all before the very-earliest "web portal" search engines emerged after 1995, all of very limited value until maybe 1999 or 2000 (?).

It may seem a highly mundane thing today to be able to search for a keyword in a mass of text or collection of documents, but it was big for marketing throughout the 1990s. The "reading public," as it then existed, had all been raised with the need for well-honed skimming skills to find what they want in a long document or book, and it seemed that a CD-Rom with a search feature would outsource the need for sometimes-inefficient skimming. The wisdom of this trade-off may be questionable in the long run, as quite many people don't seem to read long texts at all anymore. (Relatedly, people of the 1990s also needed, demanded, indexes to many sorts of book. I notice that some later books either have no index or have poorly-made indexes, a real disservice for those reading in analog mode--as I believe reading is best done.)

The CD-Rom Marketing angle: Here we have a collection of hundreds of documents related to a certain historical period or some other theme. They will be at your fingertips for a mere $39.99 plus tax! But it doesn't stop there. You can use our CD-Rom's built-in "search engine" to find ANY word you want in the entire trove of documents! Turbocharged study, reference, and research capabilities. Yours, for two easy payments of $20. Don't delay! Search engine!

In case my point wasn't clear, I think there is a case that the term "search engine" originated with marketers, specifically marketers for CD-Roms, and not with "software people." When the web-browsers came out a little later, they picked up the term and ran with it, and here twenty-five years later the term has still stuck on that appropriated use.
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