Google Go Back and Managerial Guidance

March 30, 2009

If I were a Google top dog, I think I would want my suggestions followed. Well, I was in for a surprise when I read “Hacking Google: Retro Links Revives Old Google Feature” here. The addled goose knows that he is creeping close to April Fool’s Day. You read this post and decide for yourself. The main point is that allegedly a Googler can allegedly work around a Google function that has allegedly been terminated. “Allegedly” is important when writing about Googlers who hack. For me, the most interesting comment in the post was:

Why not recreate this search feature on Google with modern search engines and Web sites? Because of the pain of maintaining an “official” list, we probably couldn’t turn this on for every user (plus not every user wants a lot of extra links added to their search results). But why not provide a completely unofficial option that people could install? Thus was born Retro Links, which is a Greasemonkey script to add new search options to Google’s search results page.

Let’s think about this, hypothetically, of course. Please, note the “hypothetical” nature of this thought experiment.

If Googlers can create unofficial work arounds, what does this imply for assurances that certain data are scrubbed on a cycle, available only to certain Googlers, and other points where privacy intersect with human Googlers?

If a feature is disabled, presumably by an alleged manager, and we have this alleged informal and fun hack, what happens when a manager says, “This information is confidential” or “This personnel information about an employee must not be discussed”?

Make up your own mind. I don’t work for a real company any more. I recall a couple of outfits such as Halliburton’s Nuclear Utilities Services unit where hacking around a company action could produce some interesting visits from non Googley people.

Times are indeed different. I’m glad I am here in the mine drainage pond with my un Googley goslings. These folks follow guidelines, suggestions, and policies in my experience.

Check out this “hack” or April Fool’s Day levity. Oh, something struck me. What if this alleged hack is not a joke at all. Yikes!

Stephen Arnold, March 30, 2009


5 Responses to “Google Go Back and Managerial Guidance”

  1. Matt Cutts on March 30th, 2009 9:12 pm

    Hi Stephen, when the post talks about hacking, it’s in the original benevolent sense (modding or tinkering around with something useful, not cracking). There’s no user or internal Google data involved with this Greasemonkey script. All it does is make it easier to try your query on other search engines directly from the Google search results page.

  2. Stephen E. Arnold on March 30th, 2009 9:32 pm

    Matt Cutts,

    Not an April Fool?

    Stephen Arnold, March 30, 2009

  3. Daniel Tunkelang on March 30th, 2009 10:58 pm

    Actually, CustomizeGoogle (a Firefox extension) has been doing this for a while:

    “CustomizeGoogle is a Firefox extension that enhances Google search results by adding extra information (like links to Yahoo,, MSN etc) and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam).”

  4. Matt Cutts on March 30th, 2009 11:50 pm

    Not an April fool. Customize Google is nice, but it has a small set of hard-coded search engines, so you can’t pick and choose which ones you want.

  5. Daniel Tunkelang on March 31st, 2009 6:51 am

    Matt, that’s true. But CustomizeGoogle also lets you go back an extra year to 1999, when there were no ads. Though, as I believe you’ve pointed out in discussions about Chrome, it’s also possible (though more complicated) to do this using Greasemonkey.

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