Breaking News on Search Term Poetry (Good, Bad, Ugly)

This is a break from quantum physics – you deserve it! Based on your questions – no un-follows so far fortunately – I will follow-up with attempting again to pick the right metaphors for 1026 dimensional spaces and tons of enormous vectors.

But there is more (enigmatic) to this universe than quantum field theory – such as search terms submitted by our blogs’ visitors.

Samir Chopra, philosophy professor and published author, has said it very well in his freshly pressed post on search terms “The Peculiar Allure of Blog Search Terms” which also features this poem of mine.

I quote from his post:

Most of all though, search terms are a glimpse of the hive mind of the ‘Net: a peek at the bubbling activity of the teeming millions that interact with it on a daily basis, seeking entertainment, amusement, edification, gratification, employment.  They make visible the anxiety of the questions that torment some and the curiosity–sometimes prurient, sometimes not–that drives others; they remind us of the many different functions that this gigantic interconnected network of networks and protocols plays in our lives, of the indispensability it has acquired.

This quote would certainly improve the quality of my future search terms a lot…

But Google is going to spoil our playful crafting of poetry from our blog statistics: Starting 2011 SSL (https) has been used with Google’s search results pages if you had been logged on to a Google app such as Google+. Now pages are encrypted even for anonymous users according to this article.

This had been called a reaction to the NSA spying on us. I tend to agree to the following:

We also can’t help but think that, because Google is encrypting search activity for everything but ad clicks, this is a move to get more people using Google AdWords.

From an internet standards’ perspective this is fine: RFC 2626 – which defines HTTP – states that

Clients SHOULD NOT include a Referer header field in a (non-secure) HTTP request if the referring page was transferred with a secure protocol.

… which means that if you click on a link displayed on a page whose address starts with https the target website will not know / log where you came from.

What does it mean for search term poets? Will this history of my meteoric rise to fame as a search term / spam poet suddenly come to an end?

Here are some ideas of mine:

Use  other stuff as spam, comments, error messages – as I did in some poems already. I had even poeti-cized my own blog posts’ titles and a full post of mine. But search terms from unknown visitors have been the most inspirational snippets from the virtual scrapyard.

Use Google / Bing Webmaster Tools’ output instead of WP Stats – I have done this, too. The poem quoted by Samir Chopra was one of those peppered with terms from Webmaster Tools. This is a violation of my own rules, though a documented one.

In order to setup your blog with these tools you need to prove ownership by adding a meta tag in your WP blog’s settings. The downside: You can only access the search terms submitted within the last month at every point in time so you would need to save them every day, and Google only gives you a number of clicks if it was higher than 10. Otherwise (<10) it might just have been an ‘impression’ – your blog just showing up in search results, but users did not click your link.

More ideas?

The Matrix | Jamie Zawinski [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

engineering and art meets
steampunk icons electrical panel
interactive floor tetris
geeky fascination
back to the future

(Snippet from my most recent search term poem)

10 thoughts on “Breaking News on Search Term Poetry (Good, Bad, Ugly)

  1. A friend of mine commented “Somehow these random likes remind me of Restaurant Story” (a game where you run your restaurant and can earn points by “visiting” other restaurants and leaving tips there). A bit uncanny, but he had a point.

    • I have found out that you can get rid of most of those likes if your posts are sufficiently long, more than two turns on the mouse’s scroll wheel or something. This also proves that only few likes are fully automated.

  2. Something to think about Elke. I found the conversation between you and Maurice to be just as interesting and instructive as the focus of the post! Although I do not have the savy or the time to investigate … I think I’ve got anecdotal evidence for the phenomena you two are discussing. So … what you’re telling me is that if I estimate by self-worth by the number of followers I’ve got … I’ve got to deflate this value by 25-50%! Oh my. D

    • But there might be other readers that are not part of the WordPress universe – such as people subscribed via RSS or using simple bookmarks!
      I was also surprised to learn that I have such readers – readers liking or commenting rarely or never. Actually all readers I know in person are like that – as hardly anybody in my real-life social networks has a WP account.

  3. Oh, well at least I know now. Though I never wrote spam poetry I often found it amusing how people came to my blog. For example, I got a lot of terms that related to students wishing to find out things about starfish. Too bad–nothing much on my blog that relates to the biology of starfish 🙂 No search terms inquiring about ducks, though.

    Elke, here’s a phenomena I’ve noticed a fair bit lately. You know those “serial likers” whose gravatars seem to be liking a lot of pages you come across. Of course I’ve never been foolish enough to think that they actually bothered to read my posts. Most of the likes and follows come from people who just want a follow back. So I just assumed they either sat by their computers and loaded many pages then just hit like or follow, or perhaps wrote a scrip to do that fro them.

    And, I suppose that’s what generally happens.

    But here’s something I have noticed: the serial likers get to like your page without even loading it at all, it seems. I noticed this first a few weeks ago. There’s a serial liker who likes a page of mine every month or so. Each time it’s the second last or third last post. I have looked it the site a few times–it’s a travel related one that seems to have tie-ins to travel agents. It’s also located in the US. Acting on a suspicion, each time I noticed a new like from that site I checked my stats and, guess what–no new page reads from that country as a result. They are clearly liking he post and, never mind not bothering to read it, they’re not even having to load it at all!

    Some time soon I am going to go through my so-called followers and classify them as serial likers, bots, people evidently looking only for follow backs, dead accounts and such. Should be interesting. Last time I checked I concluded that only around 1/3 of my so-called followers actually read my stuff and a better analysis might give further insight.

    Too bad I couldn’t “turn off” followers I know that don’t exist.

    • Yes – I know these serial likers / bots since I started blogging. Since my blog had close to zero views for a long time I basically noticed every single click. Very often I had more likes than clicks so it was obvious that these likers (or their scripts) just scroll through the WP reader or similar and click ‘Like’ there.
      I have not classified followers carefully, but I would esitmate the number of fake followers being lower than 10%. I have been humbled by a bunch of very real new physicist / scientist followers – I hope I don’t scare them off with posts like this. The number of Make-Money-Online-Blogger followers has increased unfortunately.
      I have noticed the following:
      Some months ago my ‘poems’ had a rather high number of likes – many of them were added one second after I published the post. I guess these were bots attracted by tags such as ‘Art’ or ‘Poetry’. This has changed (less likes), probably it is related to a change in the way WP handles key words. As I understood the rules your posts will show up on the main WP site under tags / categories you add… but not all of them. This if you add, say, 20 categories or tags your post will only show up in, say, 10. I never cared about that but added as many tags I found reasonable. Probably WP has reduced the number of tags they use to avoid tag spamming.

      • I noticed that any post I ever made that included the term “iPad” was followed, within hours, by a like from a particular site–which never read the piece. I wonder if it will snag the comments.
        Let me try. Here goes:
        ipad iPad IPAD i-pad i-Pad i pad
        That ought to do it 🙂
        Hmmm…just for fun, the next time I am in the mood to do something silly I will compose a post with nonsense text and use those popular tags…and watch the likes come streaming in…

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