Google trends on "climategate" show public interest increasing – but troubling questions loom

Yet, news stories covering it are dropping at the same time.

I got an email from Ahrvid Engholm, an IT journalist in Stockholm, Sweden who was concerned about the “autosuggest” for the word “climategate” in Google disappearing. He was concerned about the post November 25th trend and invited me to take a look at a tool I was unfamiliar with called “Google Trends”.  He writes:

Go to Google Trends – www.google.com/trends – write “climategate” and something very interesting will appear in front of your eyes. Select “The last 30 days” to the right.

I did just that, and here is the resulting graph, edited a bit to fit in the WUWT blog space, but you can see for yourself at the link provided.

click image to see the Google Trends plot at Google

Link: http://trends.google.com/trends?q=climategate&date=mtd&geo=all&ctab=0&sort=0&sa=N

Note that the trend graph is 4 days behind in data, which is apparently normal. But, there’s some interesting things happening.

Many people outside of the USA may not be aware of why there was a drop around November 25th in the Search Volume Index.

It is likely caused  by the second largest US American Holiday called “Thanksgiving” which was on Thursday, November 26th. The drop starts on Nov 25th as people start their travel  plans and leave the office and schools early.

Then the upwards trend resumes on November 28th when people in the USA  return from that holiday.

No nefarious Google motives here. But with the rising search popularity, it does make a fly in the ointment for why Google’s “autosuggest” function in the search box is no longer suggesting “climategate” as it once was..

Does Al Gore’s position on Google’s senior advisory board have any bearing? In Al’s bio at http://www.algore.com/about.html he says:

“A member of the Board of Directors of Apple Computer, Inc. and a Senior Advisor to Google, Inc. Gore is also Visiting Professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.”

It seems he has done some “advising” of Google’s search quality in the past. Here’s a story from the New Yorker via Newsbusters about that very subject. There is some history there that has some bearing on the current situation.

In the case of “Climategate”, Mr. Gore’s ability to continue his current speaking engagements might be hampered. Thus, there could well be a motive for him doing some “advising” in this case. A phone call might be all it took.

Word from some others doing investigations say Google senior staff has told them the removal of “Climategate” from the autosuggest in web searches is algorithm based.

But the Google trends data suggest otherwise, particularly since it was restored and operating in Googles autosuggest feature back on November 28th, as documented here on WUWT.

Now it is gone again. Did the removal of “climategate” from the autosuggest feature make recent Google Trends data lower that the peak on November 29th? Only time will tell us.

In the meantime, I’m switching my default search engine to Bing, which doesn’t have such problems and doesn’t have Al Gore as an “advisor”.

Bing on November 28th:

click for larger image

UPDATE: 10 minutes later…

As pointed out by commenters, Bing has now stopped using autosuggest for climategate where it was doing so before. See my screencap below.
Bing on December 2nd:
Odd, very odd.
Does anyone know of an independent search engine phrase logger outside of Google?
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Robinson
sagi

Googlegate?

Jim Carson

climate-gate is still in the list, and on the first page, but climategate is gone.
But if you type it out without letting Google “help” you, you get ~19.8 million pages.

Power Grab

I just tried it on Bing and it never did offer me “climate gate”.
Yahoo did. It shows 41,000,000 hits.

Brian in Bellingham

When I tried a few other terms, such as “climate fraud” and “climate scam”, it did auto suggest after the first two letters of fraud and scam, though they were not the first suggestions.
When I went to Google News, “climategate” was the first thing that came up, and that was after only typing in “c”. Not sure if that was because I had been doing other searches involving climate and google remember that, or if it was genuinely the first thing google thought of. So maybe google is ok after all.

Steve Schapel

Wow! I just stumbled across this video – “Message to the Environmental Movement – Climategate”. Not everyone here will agree with everything said, but I really relate to it. It is very well done, and very powerful. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hftsk4gWqI

Servius

I just ran the check on my google search widget.
It shows climate-gate as an option. I guess lots of people use hyphens in their words?

Geo

I have the same problem with Bing now….no autosuggest at any point in the typing of climategate……

capt joe

just tried bing.com and it seems that climategate does not come up with any suggestions

Mark

Bing now is not showing climate gate on their autosuggest. Yahoo does though.
December 2nd, 1537 EST.

mikey

i’ve never noticed the autosuggest once, but i am always using “climategate”. However its interesting if you google search “global warming” and drill down to news stories; at least 1/4 or so mention climategate, so its contaminating their whole system anyway! ahahahahaha (evil laugh)

Kelly Morris

I just tried typing in ‘climategate’ and the autosuggest seams to be working on my computer – as soon as it get to ‘cli’, ‘climategate’ pops up (at the poing of typing in ‘cl’ I get ‘club of rome’ WUWT?).
Using ‘Bing’, when I get to ‘climateg’ autosuggest pops up ‘climateguard’, and when I type in the entire text I get a blank and no autosuggest for ‘climategate’. Go figure……..

Seedload

Wow “climate-gate” is there but “climategate” is not. That HAS to be intentional. Crazy.

rbateman

I see they have replaced ClimateGate with climate-gate.
Climate Gate scandal is now in the autosuggest for Bing.
What, we are having problems now with how to spell a newly coined phrase?
This is clearly hitting nerves.
Ah, a War of Nerves. Ok.
Don’t Blingk.

Mike

I also tried typing this into Bing and its auto-search never provided me with the word “Climategate”

Antonyq

Isn’t Google a sponsor of Copenhagen?
I put Tiger Woods into the same graphing system on google, and there is a spike upwards on both graphs hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Charles. U. Farley

Google now suggesting “Climate-gate”.

Jimbo

I did suggest a few days back that maybe Google should not be to blame due to technical various issues. I take it all back and apologise. Since Al Gore is involved with Google and Autosuggest used to appear and Climategate is still a popular search term.
I should have had my sceptical radar on full blast in these times of data manipulation. I think one of Google’s motos is “do no evil.”

debreuil

So Al Gore phoned Google to tell them to take ‘climategate’ out of autosuggest (but not the news page)? And this so he could still get speaking engagements? Sorry, thats the dumbest thing I’ve heard since looking at harry read me.
Hi Al,
Sorry we are going to have to cancel that speech, I just looked at Google autosuggest and it seems ‘climategate’ is showing up. Hope the deposit is refundable.
Yours,
Greenpeace

KeithGuy

I bet the company that makes automatic climate gates are doing a roaring trade right now!

n1ckdrake

Google probably forgot to block ‘climate-gate’ from the autosuggestions. Just give it some time until they block that as well.

hotrod

I wonder if both bing and google have autosuggest algorithms that consider search load, and drop autosuggest offerings when server load is too high? It might be interesting to see if there is any pattern regarding when that suggestion is available and when it appears.
The only legitimate reason I can think of is for load management on their servers.
Microsoft also has a demonstrated interest in pitching global warming awareness.
http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archive/2007/06/10/551118.aspx
Larry

Antonyq

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/google-greentech-power-plants/
Look what I found, looks like Google is cashing in at the moment so Climate Gate will lose them money?

Frank Skog

Google news unlike Google web has climategate at the top after “clim.”

If you type “cl” into the Google news page, “climategate” is the first auto-suggestion. However, on the general search page, the approved spelling appears to be hyphenated “climate-gate”, and comes in lower and later. In any case, I don’t think we need to apply conspiratorial thinking to this one. Gore’s Google affiliation notwithstanding. The whole -gate terminology created by the Watergate Hotel break-in scandal tortures the language excessively, but I suppose we’re stuck with it.

JohnH

I don’t search for terms like “climategate”; rather, I go to favorite websites like this one. When I type “cli” into Google, Yahoo or Bing, I do not get any prompts at all for Climategate. So I think the algorithm remembers the searches you have done in the past.

Sylia

Try Altavista…yes they are still around
http://www.altavista.com/web/results?q=Climate+gate&stq=40
AltaVista found 41,600,000 results

Bob

On Google
climate gate scandal
climate-gate
are still autosuggestions

Kelly

looks like I was wrong – if you clear your ‘history’, and google climategate, it is a no-show.

PaulH

I’ve been using the Clusty search engine for a couple of years now:
http://www.clusty.com
It doesn’t seem to have an auto-suggest feature. (Well, it might but if it does I haven’t enabled that option.)
As of this moment, Clusty gives “at least 78,800” hits for climategate.
Paul

Truth

Google was auto suggesting Climategate when you just typed ‘Clim’ for several days. The top suggestion.
Then it disappeared completely.
There is absolutely no way it’s disappearance is algorithm based.
Search Twitter for ‘climategate’ (you need an account). Everyone is all over this.
Really, Google, less people are searching for Climategate than Climate Guatemala?
I think not.

Kman

As a comparison, you can put terms together separated by commas… as an example I did climategate and climate change… interesting results
http://www.google.com/trends?q=climategate%2C+climate+change&ctab=0&geo=all&date=mtd&sort=1

Seth

I also started using Bing to protest Googles missing auto suggestion on the 28th. Bing popped up with “climategate” after typing “cli”, now (12/02) nothing! Wow, has anybody heard of a response on this from Microsoft or Google yet?

Re: Robinson (12:27:12) :
In other news, apparently Phil Jones has been interviewed by the Police.
which reminds me of a classic UK cartoon of a man in a prison cell saying to his cellmate:
“That’s the last time I help police with their enquiries”

Keith Minto

Perhaps Climate-gate is more correct grammatically and the algorithms will choose the correct grammatical form over the ‘new’ word Climategate. I know that my Firefox spelling corrector does exactly that. In fact the second spelling is being red-underlined right now whereas the first is OK.

EMEB

I’m using a search engine at http://www.givemebackmygoogle.com and got 191 million hits on “climategate” this evening, no auto suggestion facility. 12 Hours ago this morning the number of hits was 101 million. Seems like some of the other search engines are corrupting the search. I’m searching from Europe.

I would switch from google, but the other engins give me ….well….crap! google-gate or whatever, google give the best results, so I don’t plan on switching any time soon.
Alta-who? Oh ya, I used to use them before google arived.

RoyJ

I don’t know whether Google’s autosuggest is country specific (I am in the UK), but it gives me climategate as soon as I type in c.

Jimbo

Just typed in “climateg” and got about 10 suggestion but NONE for Climategate – time 9pm GMT.

Arthur DEnt

Note if you have typed in the complete word climategate then sunsequent searches will return that word after a couple of letters because it is held in the browser memory

NickB.

Wouldn’t be the first time Google, or more generally a technology company from California, tinkered with their products…
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6920000.ece

Bob H.

AltaVista gives about 20,300,000 hits when entered. ClimateGate came up after entering “cl”. Not sure though whether this was from the cache or autosuggest.

Mike T

Well, I managed to get a Climategate connected article published at Daily Mail On Line. Gives Mr McIntyre a bit of a mention. See here:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1232662/Dont-hold-breath-expecting-climate-change-data-revealed.html

Mapou

Google has been part of the scam from the beginning. How can they not be since Al Gore is one of their advisors? I don’t understand Bing, though. Time to switch to Yahoo Search.

Gumby

I’ve always been able to get climategate only typing in “cl” or “cli”. I think the mixed results are due to browsers/OS/etc…

chainpin

Team Obama trying to keep the facade in place:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9CBCN6G0&show_article=1

Bulldust

Don’t worry folks, we can spin this as a temporary slowing of the increasing trend in climategate searches…
Remember to hide the decline… and delete these bytes after reading!

carilou

startpage.com provides anonymous searches and will soon have a proxy server for completely private web browsing!

Kelvin Kubala

Maybe google was telling you the truth.
Its just that you mis-interpreted them..
“the removal of “Climategate” from the autosuggest in web searches is ALGOREthm based”

Daniel Ferry

It is interesting where peoples mind’s are at.
“Climategate” just hit a Search Volume Index of 6.00 and it took10 days to do so according to GoogleTrends.
“Tiger Woods” hit a Search Volume Index of 7.50 in just 2 days after his (hmm, hmm) crash.
For reference ACORN peaked at 6.00 for just one day in September.