Searchers on Google can no longer use the age-old implied Boolean + operator to search multiple phrases together.
Just months after launching social networking site Google Plus — frequently abbreviated as Google+ or G+ — Google has added the plus sign to the lists of symbols it does not recognize in search engine queries.
Searching “google +plus” for example, now results in the following message:
What’s interesting about the result isn’t that it removes a decades-old search term from user vocabularies in favoring of branding “+” to its new product (sidenote: Google+ users tag each other in posts with a +, rather than @). It’s that it doesn’t suggest replacing it with its Boolean synonym AND which, by the way, still works just fine in searches.
And while a Google rep cited simplification and speed behind the change, it’s pretty clear adding two keystrokes isn’t any faster than one. So why change search behaviors that have been ingrained in user’s minds since the last century?
We’re taking it as a sign of continuing quest to be the driving force behind the way we search (instead of say, logic). Recent innovations like Google Instant have already gone far to shape user search behavior to suit Google–instead of the other way around. This change may be one more on the path to preening generations of users in Google’s image.
Fans of the plus sign will be relieved to know that Google has not yet attempted to remove it from the domain of mathematics, however: Users can still use the operator to perform addition via the search engine’s calculator feature just like they always have.
Google kills + (the operator not Google+)
by Piers Dillon Scott
October 23, 2011