Posted by: Paraic | August 6, 2008

Google as Spell-Checker

I just noticed something that hadn’t really jumped out at me before, but now it really does (I realize this is not the first time I’ve done this).  In writing my last blog post, I included the word “conscious“, which I had incorrectly spelled “concious” .  It didn’t seem right.  It wasn’t underlined as a spelling mistake, but it still didn’t seem right.  So I did what I now realise I do somewhat often – I typed the word as I spelled it into the search box in Firefox.

Now my Firefox search box is set to search SearchMe.  And it turns out that there are plenty of pages found for a search on the word ‘concious’. But I still wasn’t satisfied.  It still didn’t seem right.  So I jumped over to Google to do the same search and saw the familiar, “Did you mean? with ‘conscious’ highlighted for me to click on.

It turns out, now that I realise it, that I use the search box for spell-checking reasonably often – I recognise the pattern of behaviour now that it has changed because of using SearchMe rather than Google.

In writing this, and going back to double-check, I now notice that SearchMe does in fact have the question, “Did you mean ‘conscious’?” to the left of the search results; it just isn’t very prominent and I missed it.

But something to note; if you want to have a good search engine, you should make sure you have a good spell-checker to alert people to mis-spelled queries… people rely on that (well at least I do)!

[And for completeness, I’ve just run the same query on Cuil.  As I was typing ‘concious’ it gave me several suggestions for queries, all incorporating the mis-spelling (e.g. ‘conciousness’).  It also came up with 1,314,346 results for the mis-spelled query; without alerting me to the mis-spelling]


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