Can I remove search results from various search engines?
March 18, 2004 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Questions about search engines: 1) What if you regret something you say on your website, say bad-mouthing an ex-girlfriend, is there ways of sending this down the memory hole? You could delete the statement, but how do you get rid of search engine caches? And how many different engines are collecting these caches? 2) what if you say something like this on another website - is there any way to at least get Google to stop showing it, even though you don't run the site?
posted by ass to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
posted by machaus at 9:20 PM on March 18, 2004

Response by poster: re #2: Surely, there has to be creative* solutions. For instance if you mention a name on another site, Google will hit it for a search of that name, but if you mention it twice in another comment page of that site, then won't the search engine go to the one that repeats the name more (granted with a 'more results' option, but it at least buries it a little deeper)? Could you somehow hide the name repeated in the html of your (anonymous) comments to that site, creating false hits? If you do that every time you comment wouldn't it bury the original comment on that site in a sea of false hits?

re #1, thanks, but if I do that for Google will it automatically apply to Yahoo too? I hear they are actually the same engine, but I don't know what to make of that. Does anybody know all the other search engines that cache?

*and desparate :(
posted by ass at 10:11 PM on March 18, 2004

Yahoo used to use Google for searches. They recently purchased some search technology, and I believe they are or have discontinued including search results. Your stuff is cached all over the place. There are a bunch of search engines crawling the web, and there are other things like the Internet Archive seeking to maintain content even after it's been changed. Most of them will honor your request to have a page dropped from their index, but I wouldn't want to be the person that tried to track down every site to try to get it removed.

When you say it and publish it, it's been said and it's been published. You can't count on being able to unring that bell.
posted by willnot at 11:59 PM on March 18, 2004

Exactly willnot. Putting it in my favourite words: "You can't unbake a cake".
posted by shepd at 12:37 AM on March 19, 2004

Write a long rant about how someone hacked into your account and posted awful things about a certain most wonderful person to try and make you look bad. Go into lots of detail about all the things you had to do to plug all the security holes.

Almost certainly won't work, but may be worth a try.
posted by dg at 4:14 AM on March 19, 2004

1. Also keep in mind that Google only caches the most recent version of a page it's spidered, so if you delete the comment from the page, if you don't mind waiting a few days, you don't have to have Google never ever cache the page.

2. Thought about social engineering? Ask the webmaster to remove the offending comment. Bribe him/her if necessary. ("Every man has his price.")
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:44 AM on March 19, 2004

There is one very effective way I found.

I added some hidden text in my weblog (it was a page description for a print media CSS file, I swear!) and Google deleted my whole website, cache and all, for three whole months.

Apparently, it does this automatically when it thinks someone is trying to manipulate it.

However, I haven't had that same experience (yet) with Yahoo search. So this method might work in one search engine and not in another.
posted by timyang at 6:07 AM on March 19, 2004

people understand that sometimes you say something stupid. people are going to understand that sometimes you type something stupid. search engine results, at least for vanity sites, should be treated in a similar way, morally, to random recordings of conversations.

at least, that's my theory. unfortunately it's taking an awfully long time for people to understand that. i guess you just learnt.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:14 AM on March 19, 2004

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