Thursday, April 07, 2005


This post isn't about Google-searching, but about spelling (or maybe journalism)

Okay, so it started when I checked out a Google search on my referral pages ("what Maris family has to say about Mark McGuire" -- CM = 11th out of 3,420 results), but it quickly turned into something only slightly less trivial. First off, I never blogged about what the Maris family has to say about Mark McGwire; turns out that was in one of the comments on one of my posts. What this all made me wonder was whether my blog was relatively highly ranked in searches for "Mark McGuire" because that's a misspelling of his name. It's not spelled with a U, but with a W -- "McGwire" -- and I consistantly spelled it wrong in posting about steroid use. One of these days I may go back and correct this.

Interestingly (though not "importantly"), a Google search for "Mark McGuire" with a U does not get the helpful Google spelling message, Did you mean: mark mcgwire. What' more, the "Mark McGuire" search yields about 2.2 MILLION results, compared to only 596,000 for Mark McGwire spelled correctly. Apparently, there are (a) lots of people who misspell baseball baseball star Mark McGwire's name on the internet, (b) some real people who actually are named Mark McGuire with a U -- such as the Associate Professor of Medicine at the Central Clinical School at The University of Sydney, Australia.

So is this about spelling? It's not like you can look up McGwire in a dictionary, and if you could, it would reveal that (I'm guessing) it's a variant of the more common "McGuire." Instead, you have to go to a reputable information source about Mark McGwire -- and not, for example, to my blog. So perhaps the misspelling of the name of a person in the news is not an example of bad spelling but of bad journalism.

Huh. Weird.


I googled, "too much time on my hands" and CM came up first out of 1,000,000,000. Wow. Now that's impressive!!!!
I misspelled the Huygens probe than landed on Saturn's moon Titan on a few posts as Hyugens. I got several hundred hits on this, because I was the among the top five or so links with the misspelling. I would have never gotten any hits had I spelled Huygens correctly, because I would have been link 10,000,000 or something like that. Sometimes it pays to spell things incorrectly.
This suggests that Google could benefit from incorporating the Soundex system. Could be difficult to implement.
Try having the name Mark McGuire ... and often writing about sports.
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