Google Guessing: An Ego-Surfing Game
It’s “Google Guessing”: A new way to be neurotic about your popularity online through the new Google Suggest function, in which Google tries to guess what you want to search on while you’re typing in the word. Here are the rules of Google Guessing:
1. Go to Google Suggest (it’s in beta).
2. Begin typing your name — first and last.
3. Count how many letters of your last name you have to type until your full name shows up in the suggestion window without scrolling. In the case that your full name shows up before you type in a letter of your last name (for example, if your name is “John Kerry”), use the number “0.5”.
4. Note the number of results listed.
5. If you have a common name (you know who you are), click through and count how many pages of references go by before you personally get a mention (this is an updated step).
6. Divide the “results” number of step four by the “letters entered” number in step three, and then (if applicable) divide that number by the number in step five. This is your “Google Guessing Rank,” or GGR for short.
7. Compare your GGR with others for sheer neurotic sport. A higher GGR suggests there are more references to you online and/or that enough people search on your name that Google has a good idea they’re looking for you earlier than later.
In my case it takes three letters of my last name before I show up in the suggestion window, and “John Scalzi” is noted to have 108,000 results attached to it. Therefore my GGR is (108000/3) = 36,000.
How does 36,000 compare? Let’s see.
George Bush (15,800,000/0.5) = 33,600,000
John Kerry (12,000,000/0.5) = 24,000,000
Glenn Reynolds (1,100,000/1) = 1,100,000
Josh Marshall (971,000/1) = 971,000
Neil Gaiman (460,000/0.5) = 920,000
Cory Doctorow (179,000/0.5) = 378,000
James Lileks (242,000/1) = 242,000
Patrick Nielsen Hayden (81,000/2) = 40,500
Dan Drezner (115,000/3) = 38,333
In other words: Meh.
Now, obviously there are flaws with the methodology. For example, not every “John Scalzi” referenced is going to be me, so there’s some noise inherent in the system — which would be even greater if you only tracked your last name (and the noise is much greater if you have a common name — note some of the comments below — which is why I added in step five). Also, this doesn’t take into account name variations (“Daniel Drezner” instead of “Dan Drezner,” for example — and since “Daniel Drezner” has a GGR of about 90,000, maybe he’d want to go with that).
However, excessive picking apart of the methodology means that one is veering dangerously close to taking it seriously, and if one does that, one should probably step away from the computer for a decade or two. This is supposed to be fun. Good, clean, ha-ha-ha-my-GGR-totally-pwned-your-GGR -so-I’m-prettier-and-more-popular-than-you fun.
So, what’s your GGR?