Douwe Osinga's Blog: Confessions from a Google hacker

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Confessions from a Google hacker

When I started with my Google hacks a bit more than a year ago, I had of course no idea I would be working for the search engine relatively soon. I started doing fun things with Google using the Google API, a small program that would try to guess the date of an event in the last two hundred years based on a description. However, the API is relatively limited and soon I wanted more than it could give. The promise of greater power got my of the straight and narrow, I have to admit.


The Google API doesn’t support image search, news or more than 10 results per query. There are ways around it, but those are strictly speaking against the Terms of Use of Google. Of course working for Google and then coming up with smart things that Google can do, doesn’t seem very great either – it’s just not very convincing to come up with smart hacks if you know the stuff from the inside. Anyway, so I stopped doing Google Hacks, they were getting kind of old anyway.


I do get mail from time to time from fellow Google hackers asking for advice. How to do stuff, how does Google think about this. Unfortunately I can’t really answer those questions for the same reasons I stopped doing the hacks to begin with. The best Google hacks are against the terms of use, so I can’t advice that. On the other hand, my hacks are based on things like that. So I just leave stuff like it is and hope people understand.


A couple of months ago I came across a site that was a straight rip-off of from Google. It was the same layout, a very similar logo and name. The search results were stolen too, the only thing added was a PageRank indicator stolen from the toolbar. I posted the url to some internal list and a short discussion followed. Ten minutes later the site no longer worked