By Sakina Huzeifa Burhani
Googlewhacking is the way to kill boredom creatively.
“Unconstructive Superegos, Bibliophilic Sandwiched, Francophile Namesakes.” Do they mean anything to you? J.K.Rowling certainly did not use them in Harry Potter series. These combinations of words may look like utter nonsense but they belong to a craze known as “Googlewhacks”.
Google is one of the biggest and most widely used internet search engines. A single query can produce millions of results on your screen in a flash. But has it ever occurred to you to key in words that will generate only one result? Impossible, isn’t it?
In over four billion web pages with trillions and trillions of words, the probability of a combination of two words appearing only once is almost negative. Well almost, not entirely.
Googlewhacking is a Google search query consisting of two words e.g. cassava mousepad.
The two words need not make any obvious sense but do not use numbers or put the words in quotation marks. Also, the terms must exist in Google view which is a database is linked to dictionary.com so if the words you type are accepted, they will appear underlined.
Getting a single result search may sound simple but go ahead, log on to http://www.google.com and give it a try. Cassava mousepad sounded like a very unlikely pair of words to be together on one page but Google had 11,300 results for it.
Googlewhacking requires an abstract, weird and of course whacky frame of mind to come up with the unique combination. The “Bonga, Kwachua and Chakaza” awards all yield a single result.
If you get ‘no results’ or perhaps one result with words not in the Google dictionary, the whack-world calls you a “Googlejack”!
The term Googlewhack was coined by web entrepreneur and ‘unblinking’ searcher, Gary Stock in 2002. He was so obsessed with finding the combination of words that he created a game, complete with rules and called it “Googlewhacking”. Stock lays out the rules for keeping a score: One point if you find a pure googlewhack, one point if you learn something and a bonus point if your Googlewhack makes you laugh.
However, the sensation spread like bushfire when British stand-up comedian Dave Gorman received an e-mail form a friend informing him that he was a Googlewhack (his website contained a whack). This intrigued the comedian so much that in 2003 he set out around the world touring Britain, France, Australia, Canada and the USA to look for a chain of ten other Googlewhacks. After encountering snakes in LA, meeting with mini-cab drivers in North Wales and hippies in Memphis, Gorman finally succeeded in uncovering ten others. Back home he had an interesting story to tell and went on to write a book- Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack adventure which was acclaimed to be a Sunday Times #1 best seller in the UK. His one-man show, titled the same, broke records at the Sydney Opera House and sold out nearly 75 shows in England.
Wonderful sheer pointlessness
Since then, Googlewhacking has become a popular and addictive pastime with thousands of people glued on Google, racking their brains for the unique combination of two words. If you have tried a hand at crosswords and codeword, Googlewhacking is surely worth a try and believe me you will not rest till you get one. Sit down with a dictionary for those odd and rare words (some cheating is permitted) and test your research skills and mastery of language.
I started off with “vermillion anthills” which produced 597 results. Next was cassava mousepad, which was a total disaster. “Squeamish bootlaces” gave me 291 results and three hours later my personal best was “hibernated xylophagous” with 43 results.
And then finally I thought I found one. “Arduous odment” gave me a perfect Result 1-1 of 1 but sigh, I had spelt oddment wrongly! Nevertheless, I satisfied myself with the “Googlejack” title.
When you succeed in finding a Googlewhack, whacking etiquette (yes etiquette!) says you e-mail the owner of the website informing him that his site contains a whack. You can also post your whack on The Whack Stack on http://www.googlewhack.com.
I am sure you will be itching to tell as many people as you can about your remarkable achievement-tell me as well! The whack stack has already posted more than a thousand Googlewhacks, not to mention thousand others in web blogs.
Ironically though, the moment you publish your Googlewhack online, it’s a whack no more as multiple entries have now been created. To make the whole thing worse, there are some notorious people out there who find the Googlewhacking idea pointless and instead amuse themselves killing the preciously found Googlewhacks by indexing the page containing the Googlewhack.
So what’s the whole point in Googlewhacking? Challenge yourself and look for more.
As one Googlewhacker says, “it is the sheer pointlessness of the task that makes it so wonderful.”
This article was originally published for Daily Nation Kenya.
Sakina Huzeifa Burhani is born and raised in Mombasa, currently living in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. She has written for Coast Week, a local paper in Mombasa and also worked in the advertising and marketing department of a leading furniture firm in Kenya. She has always been passionate about paper crafts, and presently being a stay at home mum of two, she pursues her craft hobby as a business. She makes bespoke greeting cards, party invites and other party stationery. She calls her small home-based business, “Say it with Style” which brings her love of writing and craft together.