When did Google's reverse image search change, if it has?
May 14, 2016 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I use Google's reverse image search via right-click in Chrome. Previously it would return some decent results, with useful suggestions. Lately it's been crap.

Used to be I would right click a picture of a truck and it would come back with "Best guess for this image: 1953 Chevrolet", or I would right click an anime screenshot and it would come back with "Best guess for this image: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann". Now instead of that I get "truck" and "anime". I GRIS'd a picture of fucking Macklemore ten minutes ago and it came back with "Best guess for this image: Clothing"! Now yes, he wasn't nude, but still.

I'm most often GRISing images on the Something Awful forums that are hosted on Imgur, if that matters. It's rarely original content, which I understand Google might struggle to get a handle on.

I've tried disabling all my extensions and running in incognito mode and the same thing happens. I mean I can generally click through a link or three and find what I want to know, but it was formerly much better than this, or so I recall. I've done a flatten and reinstall in the last two weeks and it's persisted through that.

Did something change, or what? Am I misremembering how good it formerly was?
posted by Sternmeyer to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't say anything for sure, but I have also noticed that reverse GIS seems to be significantly dumber than it used to be.
posted by clorox at 7:18 PM on May 14, 2016

From my understanding, the only big changes to GIS in the last few years have been to remove facial recognition (due to privacy complaints) and to reduce the number of accidental adult images. The "best guess for this image" suggestions are based on links to the image, and the text is likely based on the anchor text in the link. But it appears that GIS only includes a suggestion if linking sites have a high PageRank (i.e., they're generally trusted by the Google search algorithm).

To test this, I searched for "1953 chevrolet" and then used "Search by image" on a few rows of the search results. Most of them gave suggestions ("1953 chevrolet bel air", for example) and these were images on or linked to from high-PageRank sites. The few without suggestions were linked exclusively from low-PageRank sites.
posted by Woodroar at 8:39 PM on May 14, 2016

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