Google Kills Uncle Sam Search
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With no announcement or fanfare, Google has killed off its Uncle Sam Search. Google's Uncle Sam Search returned results only from government-related sources (U.S. federal, state, and local government agencies). Users first started reporting the disappearance of the specialized search engine on June 2, when they noticed requests in their browsers' address bar to https://www.google.com/unclesam were redirected to the main Google Web Search page. Users reported what they thought was an error on Google's Web Search Help Forum for "Unexpected Search Results."

Google Uncle Sam Search Results
Google's U.S. Government Search (a.k.a. Uncle Sam Search) returned results from
government agencies at all levels.

In the Forum, user niccook1 described how he had contacted the Google Community Manager directly about the issue and received the following response:

"I saw your forum threads earlier today and have been investigating the issue. The redirect you now experience when you visit Google.com/unclesam is the intended behavior. If you'd like to restrict your search results to government sites only, add [site:.gov] to your query. You can also apply a broader restriction by adding [site:.gov OR site:.org] to your query."

By describing the "redirect you now experience when you visit Google.com/unclesam" as "the intended behavior," the community manager acknowledges that Google means to shift users to the general Google Web Search. In his response, user niccook1 lays out a well-reasoned response as to why the suggested domian-restricted site:.gov search IS NOT THE SAME as the previously available Google Uncle Sam search.

In the closest thing to an official reply, Rishi Khaitan, a Google Search Product Manager replied, in part,  to the Help Forum on June 6:

"I personally apologize for our poor communication regarding the termination of Uncle Sam search. We should have done a better job communicating this in advance, and I apologize for that. In the future, I'll make sure we find a way to do better. As for Uncle Sam search, our analysis showed that moving searchers over to regular web search would help most people find what they're looking for faster."

From our own experience (and the continued commenting on the Help Forum thread) not all users agree with Khaitan. But for now at least, it seems that Uncle Sam is gone.

UPDATE: Google's Uncle Sam Search was not the only casualty of this coup. Google has apaprently discontinued all of its /specialty search engines, including:

  • Google.com/about
  • Google.com/bsd
  • Google.com/linux
  • Google.com/mac
  • Google.com/microsoft
In a statement given to RustyBrick CEO Barry Schwartz for a post on the Search Engine RoundTable blog, an unnamed Google spokesperson explained:

"We are no longer offering specialized search services at google.com/linux, google.com/microsoft, google.com/bsd, google.com/mac, google.com/about and google.com/unclesam. These services were established many years ago to offer search across a limited index of the web, which in the past was a better way to find this information. For example, google.com/linux was designed to help people find information from message boards and blogs about the Linux operating system. Today, search quality has advanced tremendously, and based on our analysis we’ve found that in most cases you're better off looking for this kind of specialized information using the regular Google search box, for example by typing [linux fedora upgrade]. We understand that some users were surprised by this change, so we apologize for not communicating more clearly in advance of redirecting these services to google.com. For more advanced search tips to restrict your search to particular sites and kinds of information, we recommend taking a look at our Help Center".

 

Portions of this post are excerpted from:

 Google For Lawyers

"Google For Lawyers: Essential Search Tips and Productivity Tools" is a hands-on guide to the Google tools, tips, and tricks that can help you work smarter...not harder.

 

 

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