>Google Search Results: Revised

>First, a Disclaimer:

As always, not a professional academic or researcher. Also, not a statistician. I’m just a fine art major who happens to really, really like spreadsheets.

Revisions explained

Okay, so I got some helpful feedback yesterday that included improvements to my search methods. So I thought I’d write a quick post updating my data as well as providing some information about traffic and such. I may or may not get to the post about the context of these terms since I went a little crazy making spreadsheets. (Call me a nerd, but I love spreadsheets. They can fix anything.)

I made a major blunder in my original post, I realized. In my searches yesterday, I was only searching http://www.ign.com and not all of its various gaming subdomains. As such, I revised my search to ign.com and this substantially affected the results. Now ign.com has subdomains for tv, movies, and comics that get much less traffic than its gaming subdomains, but I still searched those subdomains and subtracted those results from the overall total. With the numbers for all of the subdomains and forums included, this wound up altering the final outcome.

I also had some requests to add some additional terms – specifically homophobic or male-gendered slurs. I did wind up adding “fag” to my list, but “dyke” did not make the cut because of the fact that “dyke” is also a name. Specifically, Gordon Van Dyke, who is one of the big figures behind the Battlefield series, skewed the results too heavily. I also did contemplate adding “prick” to the list of terms, but I made an entirely subjective judgement that “prick” is not “as bad” as “cunt”. Entirely my opinion, but I’m also trying to keep the list of terms short so I don’t go completely insane running them all through Google. For the same reason, I also did not search for racial slurs, since that would cause the list to balloon beyond the point that I can gather data in an hour or two.

Lastly, my problem with Kotaku was that instead of running “site:kotaku.com” through Google, I was using “site:http://www.kotaku.com”. That’s what I get for not copying and pasting, I suppose.

The Results

So here are the raw results. (No pretty charts today. I like spreadsheets, but charts are a pain in the ass.)

Interestingly, adding Kotaku to the list didn’t have any effect on the final outcome. Adding all of IGN’s subdomains, however, did. In terms of raw results, IGN now comes out on top with 18 points, just barely edging out Destructoid at 17. Team Liquid’s showing isn’t quite as impressive, but is still pretty solid at 11.It’s worth noting that Joystiq only scored 3 points, and that Kotaku actually managed to score 0. Something I found almost as interesting is the fact that there are absolutely no results for “feminist/feminazi bitch” on Kotaku.

Now none of this gives us more than a very sketchy general picture without at least having some information about traffic patterns and context. Context we’ll save for my next post. As for traffic patterns, I was able to find some super-basic traffic information for Destructoid, Kotaku, IGN, Joystiq, and Team Liquid by using Compete’s free traffic search features. (It doesn’t let you search subdomains.) The monthly normalized data for February for the five sites is as follows:

Sadly, data about page views is not available for free, so I can’t provide that data. But unique visitors and monthly visits will still give us a pretty good picture.In an attempt to at least half-assedly normalize the raw results, I decided to divide the unique visitors by the number of search results for each term. It doesn’t really mean much in terms of where the words are coming from – staff writers? Users? Anonymous commenters? But it at least provides some sort of context as to traffic versus usage of each term. It seems counter-intuitive, but lower numbers are “bad” and higher numbers are “good”:

I decided to go through these results and award points again, this time going from lowest to highest. When looking at unique visitors, this time Team Liquid came in first with 20 points, barely edging out Destructoid with 19 points. IGN, by comparison, came in a distant third with a meager 6 points.When you divide monthly visitors by numbers of search results, results change again – but the overall picture stays the same:

By this metric, Destructoid wins with 20 points, Team Liquid places second with 16 points, and IGN once again comes in third with 6 points.What does any of this mean?

Well, not a whole lot really. We can make sort of general statements saying that Destructoid and Team Liquid seem to have a higher per capita usage of these terms than other sites, but it’s not possible to make any definitive statements about just what any of this means. Another important factor that was not possible for me to examine is the source of the comments. With the exception of Team Liquid, all of these sites employ paid writers, but they also host user blogs. As mentioned before, it’s not really possible for me to discern the frequency of use by the writers versus the frequency of use by users or anonymous commenters.

So, overall these numbers aren’t that useful from an academic standpoint. However, they provide a useful illustration of the fact that misogynist (as well as other forms of hate speech) language is pervasive across all major gaming sites, and that some sites are consistently more guilty of using this language than others.

10 thoughts on “>Google Search Results: Revised

  1. >Wouldn't it make sense to normalise the number of 'naughty' hits by the total number of hits google has for the site (i.e. site:kotaku.com)? that way we could express the percentage of hits that contain bad stuff can compare that way? At least then the metrics are consistent.Also you can filter words you don't want so: Dyke -"Gordon Van" would remove that bias.

  2. I’m curious how you came to the conclusion that prick isn’t as bad as cunt. Sure, it’s your opinion and you are entitled to express it on your own blog, but if you want this post to be taken seriously you’re going to need a pretty good explanation why a strong insult based on the male anatomy isn’t as bad as a strong insult based on the female anatomy.

    Speaking as a man, if somebody called me a prick, I’d feel pretty insulted and probably really angry. It’s not an insult that can be used as a joke. I’d consider it “fighting words” if it came from a man.

  3. OUT51D3R: I’ll admit it’s a personal bias. But it’s been my experience that the guys that I know would be WAY more insulted if you called them a douche, a bitch, or a cunt than if you called them a prick or an asshole. Hell, some of them would wear prick or asshole as a badge of honor.

  4. I wish that ‘slut’ wasn’t a slur, considering that calling someone a ‘person-that-has-tons-of-sex’ should be a compliment in any society that isn’t at the height of antinatalism. Plus, it’s a very smooth word, quite fun to say.

    Cunt though? That’s not a pleasant word. I could not ever imagine it undergoing semantic shift to become so. We have significant Chinese and West African subcultures here, and let me tell you that non-English speakers can tell it’s a slur just by hearing it.

    Oh, and as some feminists pointed out, a douche will probably mess up your vagina. Calling someone a douche as an insult can be very pro-woman.

  5. @Wundergeek

    Calling a man prick is roughly equivalent to calling a woman cunt, I think. They are both generic, gender anatomy-based insults that can be applied for whatever purpose when you dislike somebody.

    Calling a man bitch(or other female related insults) takes things to a much higher level. You are saying something -quite- specific. You are questioning his manhood, which most men are going to take quite seriously. It’s like calling a woman slut-you are saying something quite specific about them, that you know will anger and/or hurt them.

    • Fair enough. I was making a personal judgment based on how my male friends use the term – I recognize that it’s not universal. I would l0ve to do a more detailed analysis of male-gendered slurs v. female-gendered slurs, but it took me three days to put together what I have here…

      • Yeah, the effectiveness of insults isn’t really something that applies universally.

        Though I don’t agree with the exclusion of that specific term, it’s been an interesting exercise nonetheless.

  6. I know I am kind of late to the party, but here is my comment:

    You should have mentioned that the numbers Google shows are an approximation at best and in many case completely misleading. The way Google crawls sites leads to completely skewed results depending on how “google-friendly” the target site is programmed.

    Especially forums are very susceptible to this. Take the tree format your own comment discussion uses vs the quote format older forum software uses. Every reply to a post that contains one of the search words will again include the same search word (and every follow up quote will too) on the old style format.
    With a tree structure this will not happen and the search word will only show up once. This alone should skew search numbers by several factors.

    Then there is the issue if the same content is accessible through different URLs. Google will treat that as two or more hits, even though the search term only appears once to a human visitor. Again older sites will show a lot more results than newer, friendly-URL ones.

    I am not hiding where I am from (TL), but out site has been ‘accused’ wrongly before. This time though it seems to be more Google’s inability to provide correct numbers than ill intentions.

    Enjoyed reading the other articles! Cheers,
    Eric

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