search engine madness
September 17, 2008 10:58 PM   Subscribe

is it possible to filter search engine results by date? Google claims it is, but its not working for me. and yahoo dont even seem to have the option.

This sounds like a noob question, but actually I've used the net since its inception and I'm stumped and frustrated. Google claims there is a "filter by date' button in the upper right hand corner of the page. I dont see it!!! Is it just my computer? Is anyone else seeing such a button?

I've never had to filter search results by date before. It only came up because I'm searching for a very recent news event, and the default filter is 'relevance' and they never show the latest links. and yahoo dont even claim to offer this ability.

In all three search engines, going thru the advanced search options shows *nothing* to sort by date.

And - is it me, or is it NUTS that the three biggest search engines arent offering really obvious and easy ways for people to sort by date?
posted by jak68 to Technology (14 answers total)
When I'm at, there is a small text note to the right of the search box saying 'advanced search'. Follow it.
Below all the visible options is a link saying 'Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more'. It displays some extra filtering options, the first of which is 'date (how recent it is)'.
posted by jacalata at 11:24 PM on September 17, 2008

jacalata - thats still not filtering the results by date! it merely limits the results to a time frame ("24 hours" "1 week" "1 year" etc) but within that time frame the results still are listed by relevance and not ascending/descending by date...
posted by jak68 at 11:29 PM on September 17, 2008

I see what you're asking - I think this lifehacker suggestion will do it.
posted by jacalata at 11:31 PM on September 17, 2008

You can search within a time period by using julian dates.

For example, searching for "this that otherthing daterange:2454724-2454727" will return only hits indexed within the last four days.
posted by shinybeast at 11:32 PM on September 17, 2008

No, it doesn't sorry - I was misled by their heading.
posted by jacalata at 11:32 PM on September 17, 2008

Google's claim that you can sort by date seems to be only claimed for google news - and I just checked, and that works, in Quadrant 1 like they claim. I expect their reasoning is that sorting the standard search by date would throw out the entire reason for using google (Given a strict 'sort by date', any relevance data would have to be thrown out, and given a non-strict version, you'd have to do some ugly weighting to balance it), whereas news is meant to be topical, and so they need a search by date.

I'm willing to bet that Google news isn't based on the google search algorithm, because an 2-minute-old article won't have incoming links, which should normally destroy the ranking. Also because the top Gnews date search was The Inquirer, which wouldn't happen in real-google.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:02 AM on September 18, 2008

The date that google lets you parameterize with daterange or the advanced search is the date when the page was last spidered. That is not a very useful date, because it does not correlate at all with the date the page was created or updated, only the last time google checked it.

The problem is there is no general way for a search engine to know anything about a date of a page. How is is supposed to know that? Usually the date of interest of a page is buried in the text somewhere and requires human interpretation to extract. And that's for pages that even mention a date somewhere, which is the minority.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:05 AM on September 18, 2008

ok, thanks for the info.... tho i'm sorely disappointed that search engine results cant sort dates.
posted by jak68 at 12:08 AM on September 18, 2008

There are ways to know about the date of a page, and Google does use them.

Visit a page. Grab a copy. Write down when you got the copy. Visit a week later. Anything change? No? Okay, then it's a week old. Visit a week later. Oh, two weeks old. And so on.

Google does use "freshness" in deciding how often to recrawl a site. A site which changes constantly is hit by Google very often compared to those updated once a year.

Google simply disallows sorting general results by date due to the "relevance" issue mentioned above. It's a shame, because it's one of those times I wish Google would stop being so bloody "I know what you want, I'm going to help you! *yanks keyboard away*" user-grape-peeling and let me get on with it.
posted by adipocere at 5:19 AM on September 18, 2008

Go and check out the experimental search options on google labs. Last I checked, there was an option that allowed filtering by date. Note though that their ability to pluck a date out is rather crude. They look for occuramces of text that look like a date and use that.
posted by Good Brain at 8:02 AM on September 18, 2008

I can't believe I finally get to bust out one of my "this will come in handy someday" bookmarks, but you can try GooFresh, which lets you search "for sites added today, yesterday, within the last seven days, or last 30 days."
posted by JaredSeth at 9:24 AM on September 18, 2008

Google Groups posts (Usenet newsgroups + whatever Google has added) are searchable by date. Here it's relevant since each post has a date.
posted by lockedroomguy at 10:38 AM on September 18, 2008

Its "everybody has the best answer" day. ;) thanks, I will try all the above.
posted by jak68 at 11:53 AM on September 18, 2008

Visit a page. Grab a copy. Write down when you got the copy. Visit a week later. Anything change? No? Okay, then it's a week old.

That algorithm sounds like it might be useful but it's not. Static web content these days is becoming more and more rare, as most sites are generated dynamically. All those dynamic modules you see on pages like "6 users online" or "today's popular topics" or "123 comments" or "5 trackbacks" or "page rendered in 56ms" will all cause the page to be nominally 'updated' under this algorithm when in fact the main content itself has not changed, it's just the flair that has changed. If you use this algorithm then practically every result would come up as having been modified in the last few days or weeks, only because that happened to be when google last spidered it, not because that's when the page's content was actually last modified.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:08 PM on September 18, 2008

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