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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Well now, here's a thing. There's the MSN Search UK interface and there's the US Version. The UK version has the option to limit to the UK, and the US version allows you to limit by country (although confusingly, when you add in the qualifier it comes up with loc:GB - I've asked for a clarification of this, since GB and UK are not exactly the same thing, but that's just a pedantic point.)

Now, logically you would think that searching the UK version, without limiting to UK results would give the same result as the US version. Not so. I ran 3 different searches, with the US result first, and the UK result second:

country search engines 2,394,769 (US) 2,011,145 (UK)
internet 579,702,679 (US) 579,702,679 (UK)
microsoft 86,763,477 (US) 86,558,833 (UK)

Only in the second instance did the results tally, which is what I'd expect. The other two were out, not by a lot agreed, but they were out.

I then decided to run the same searches again, this time limiting the US version of GB results only, and limiting the UK version to UK results only.

country search engines 148,654 (US) 145,500 (UK)
internet 17,565,196 (US) 155,178,867 (UK)
microsoft 4,081,657 (US) 3,981,060 (UK)

In this case all the results were entirely different, most startlingly the 'internet' search with a difference of over 137 million results! In most cases it would seem sensible to totally ignore the UK version in preference to the US version, and just put the loc:GB limit on if you need to find UK based material. MSN isn't the only search engine that does this however, I've seen it happen with others. Still interesting though; perhaps it's just down to all the excitement of its first day in beta, who can say?

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