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Old May 17, 2019, 07:36 PM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Losing the Search Engine Wars?

Recently, I was in a social media discussion regarding NICS checks. The person I was conversing with was completely unfamiliar with gun legislation in general, let alone its history.

Having been here since 2000, I’ve had a few conversations on those topics. I wanted to reference the 2007 NICS Improvement Act; but couldn’t remember the exact title of the legislation. Using DuckDuckGo as a search engine with cookies turned off and maximum privacy enabled, I tried to search for the bill. All I could get was “NRA lies about background checks” in the search results and that was in relation to the recent Fix NICS bill rather than the older legislation. I ended up using a super specific search from what I remembered from a previous argument about the 2007 legislation in order to get the information to actually find what I was looking for.

I feel like I can hardly find articles and references I know well know via the Internet. If it weren’t for forums like this, I simply couldn’t find it at all and I’ve been engaged on 2A issues for awhile now. If you don’t have any of the personal knowledge or experiences that I have, and don’t know how to narrow your search to find the relevant information, how could you not think of the Second Amendment as an obsolete, harmful relic?

I always thought the distributed nature of the Internet would prevent authoritarian control; but I regret to say it looks like I am being proved wrong.

ETA: Another example is trying to find the old Don Kates article on “Of Holocausts and Gun Control.” Circa 2002, I could find that article without issue... now even when I can find a website that references it, the link is dead.
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Old May 17, 2019, 07:44 PM   #2
FITASC
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Since Duck Duck Go now works with Yahoo, their search results are pitiful compared to Google. You might also loosen up some of your filters to get better results
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Old May 17, 2019, 07:56 PM   #3
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It was touted as the information superhighway, but my personal experience is more like information swamp. A trackless bog containing no clear path through.
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Old May 17, 2019, 08:53 PM   #4
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I use Google and I’ve never had a problem searching for anything gun related. I’ve had Google come through with what I was looking for even with vague searches where I could only remember the bare minimum. I’m thinking the problem is your search engine, not the subject matter of your searches.
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Old May 17, 2019, 09:45 PM   #5
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I miss the old internet.
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Old May 17, 2019, 11:43 PM   #6
Aguila Blanca
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'Tis said that "The Internet is forever," and that may be true if you're a geek but it's not always evident to ordinary mortals. For example, like Mr. Roberts, I've been following gun control and 2A discussions for some time. So I know that the Senate prepared a rather exhaustive study of the history of the Second Amendment and the RKBA in 1982. And I know that the Department of Justice prepared a similarly exhaustive analysis is 2004. Both were at one time posted on official, government web sites.

And then they weren't. I had them bookmarked, and my bookmarks didn't work. Fortunately, other people or organizations foresaw that and made copies, so if you poke around enough you can still find both documents. At least, as of two days ago. Next week? Who knows?

BTW, I found them using DuckDuckGo. I won't use Google -- they know more about me than they should already, I don't choose to give them any further insights into my personal interests.
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Old May 18, 2019, 08:47 AM   #7
Tom Servo
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Quote:
I miss the old internet.
So do I. In a way, this forum is holding the line on that.

The internet was never supposed to be a commercial tool. It was never meant to be a tool for datamining the public's personal information. It was certainly never meant to be a tool for political manipulation and misinformation campaigns.

But the idealist futurism of its founders went out the window a long time ago. It's not about content, but about optimizing search-engine priorities and monetizing page hits. Just look at the headlines we're fed on Facebook and Twitter, the calculated outrage, the blatant clickbait.

And I don't think there's any turning back.

At least here, we've maintained a credible, informative, and civilized corner of it. It's quieter than it used to be, but that's not a bad thing. We've maintained a healthy signal/noise ratio, and for the staff, that's the mission Rich gave to us for running the site.

Even when the forum was shut down for a time, the site archives still represented a valuable resource for technical and historical knowledge that still isn't matched by anything else out there.

So no, we're not going to have pop-up links to "5 reasons Senator Hornwaffle is a commie libtard: #4 will shock you!" What we do have is a collaborative knowledge base that's worthy of pride.
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Old May 18, 2019, 09:38 AM   #8
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Bartholomew, it really sounds like you are hamstringing yourself more than anything else. Getting the information to come up on DuckDuckGo is no problem when you don't introduce all the junk you did. I had no problem pulling up the information. on DDG with the first search. We aren't losing any sort of wars as you can readily get the information, even with DDG. The problem is all about how you go about getting the information. Back in 2000, you didn't have all those filters to mess with your searches.

As for missing the old internet, sure, everything was better in the past. It always is people keep claiming. I miss things from the past as well, but I don't miss a lot of the garbage I didn't like about the past, either. The internet has grown as has its capabilities. Back in 2000, December, there were only 361 million users worldwide comprising 5.8% of the world's population. Today, there are 4.383 billion users comprising 56.8% of the world's population. We have more resources today than ever before. I certainly don't disagree that it is a swamp more so than a superhighway, so now you trade in your car and get an air boat. Either you adapt or you get left in the mud.
https://www.internetworldstats.com/emarketing.htm

TFL is a very nice place and it is nice that it is not bogged down with so many ads like many other forums.
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Old May 18, 2019, 10:27 AM   #9
thallub
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My google fu must be powerful. Don't have any trouble finding stuff.

1. "Fix NICS Act brought this:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/s2135

2. "NICS Improvement Act of 2007" brought up this:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hr2640/text
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Old May 18, 2019, 11:21 AM   #10
FITASC
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Quote:
Using DuckDuckGo as a search engine with cookies turned off and maximum privacy enabled,
And that will limit your results
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Old May 18, 2019, 01:06 PM   #11
Bartholomew Roberts
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Well, if you know the name of the legislation, it is easy enough to find. If all you can remember is that NRA supported a law to increase participation in NICS, trying to find the link is a little more difficult.

And your average person isn’t going to know that the NICS Improvement Act of 2007 even existed, let alone remember the name of the legislation 12 years later. They are going to be searching with different terms - and what is that search going to show them?
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Old May 18, 2019, 02:14 PM   #12
MikeG
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I just tried both of the OPs search term with the startpage.com search engine and the correct term came up first. Try startpage, it also respects your privacy and doesn't save and use (misuse) your data as a default.
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Old May 18, 2019, 05:01 PM   #13
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AB, if you still have those old bookmarks, please try them in https://web.archive.org/ and see if the old web pages you remember appear.
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Old May 18, 2019, 05:14 PM   #14
FITASC
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Thanks for the mention of smartpage. Just stopped Duck Duck Go
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Old May 18, 2019, 09:47 PM   #15
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I have found very similar problems with issues / topics / concepts that were unpopular or controversial, but still originally drew a lot of views or clicks.

Case in point: A blue-on-blue shooting that occurred in Utah a bit over ten years ago.
A multi-agency narcotics task force was staging to enter a residence with a no-knock warrant for multiple persons suspected of many narcotics-related activities.

The second agent in line at the front door yelled "GUN!" as the agent in front of him was shot in the head and, apparently, the entire task force opened fire. In the chaos that followed, four more agents were wounded, one suspect was severely injured, and the only other suspect on site was killed (with nearly 40 bullet wounds documented in the autopsy -- a little 'cop killer' retribution?).

Crime scene recreations and evidence collected showed that every shot was fired by the task force - mostly front-to-back and back-to-front through the house. The suspects had no firearms in possession, nor in close proximity.
To make matters worse, the only drug evidence collected was in "recreational" quantities.

Video and audio recordings showed that the first shots were fired by the agent that yelled "gun". It was a three-round burst from his MP5, into the back of the head of the agent in front of him.

The Sheriff in charge of the task force even made a public statement acknowledging that all shooting was "cop on cop" and that they had severely screwed up, along with a short video clip of the officers at the front of the house, up to the sound of the first shot in the 3-round burst.

It was HUGE in the local news for many months - and even got substantial national coverage.

Just a few months down the line, the cop that dumped the burst into the back of a fellow cop's head was the star of a corruption probe (and later convicted).


Yet, several years later, it took me several hours of digging to find any of the original articles. I could find hundreds upon hundreds of articles from a year, or so later, when the surviving suspect was convicted of murder (of the officer and the other suspect).
But it took serious work to find the original articles that had been HUGE at the time.

Now... I can't find them at all. It is all gone.
One would think that something like that would get constant hits and stay "relevant" to search engines, due to traffic funneled through 'Anti-Cop' type conspiracy theorists. But, no. In the rare case that I can turn up a search result, the article is gone. (For example: Click the link, page loads with a headline, but the body of the article is gone.)

The death of Jared Francom remains extremely easy to find. ...But not the shooting involving corruption and total task force FUBAR.

Therein lies the heart of many search engines: Clicks and hits. And the content hosts.
If something isn't getting search for, or clicked on, or viewed any more, it drops in priority. Once it hits a certain level, it's cast off with the rest of the chaff of the internet (and there's a lot of chaff...).
And if the subject matter isn't hosted by the source any more, then there's nothing for the search engine to return.

If you wan to view it as censorship, I think it's likely more of the content hosts tailoring their archives to what they want to keep active than the search engines censoring results (and 'common search' databases).
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Old May 18, 2019, 10:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Case in point: A blue-on-blue shooting that occurred in Utah a bit over ten years ago.
Should be no problem to find the information. Utah officer was killed? Here is the Utah Fallen page. Not all that many Utah officers have been killed. You should be able to find the officer fairly readily.

https://www.utahsfallen.org/the-fallen/

Find the officer, and you can find the related news stories.

Which officer was it?
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Old May 19, 2019, 01:57 AM   #17
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Apparently the only information that is permanent on the Internet is what ever the things are that YOU don't want known.

(yes, that's intentional sarcasm)
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Old May 19, 2019, 12:10 PM   #18
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
Well, if you know the name of the legislation, it is easy enough to find. If all you can remember is that NRA supported a law to increase participation in NICS, trying to find the link is a little more difficult.
Is that really a problem with the search engine or the searcher parameters? There is a LOT of information on the WWW. You need to use terms and data that are an unique as possible to the result you want to find in order to narrow the results you get.

However, I ran exactly what you said, "NRA supported a law to increase participation in NICS"

https://www.google.com/search?q=NRA+...utf-8&oe=utf-8

And the very first results are what you were looking for. A bunch of first couple dozen results I checked are not what you wanted, but how does Google know?

On DDG, your parameters were less productive...
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=NRA+suppor...CS&t=hp&ia=web

You are going to need more specific terms with DDG.

Quote:
And your average person isn’t going to know that the NICS Improvement Act of 2007 even existed, let alone remember the name of the legislation 12 years later. They are going to be searching with different terms - and what is that search going to show them?
Chances are most people don't search for things they don't know exist. As for remembering the name of the legislation or knowing what terms to them to find legislation they can't remember, it isn't like search engines are psychic. They don't know how to generate the results you want if you don't use the correct search terms to find those results. Simply put, GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), a basic programming concept for the last 50+ years.

So this isn't really a gun-related issue. GIGO is a problem whether you are searching for specific legislation about guns, automotive legislation, mating habits of the north Atlantic periwinkle, or the user manual for a Toshiba P321 dot matrix printer. It can be tough to get the results you want if you don't provide the correct parameters for the search. Vague parameters often yield vague or unrelated results to what you are trying to find.
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