It’s Dead, Jim

I just got an email from long-time Googlewhacker Will H that dictionary links are no longer appearing in some Google search results.  Single words are linking in some instances but in combination they are not.  For example, a search for “kafkaesque” links to a definition but a search for “kafkaesque nightclubby” does not.

I checked over at Googlewhack to see if Gary had any news on this.  According to Googlewhack “Late 04 Nov 2009, Google stopped providing definition links for public searches under certain conditions. That effectively broke Whack — which could be fixed — but similar problems occur every few months, and often are corrected by Google.” That’s the most recent update at Googlewhack, so it looks like it’s been broken since the beginning of November.

A quick Google search turned up an explanation.  About the time Google rolled its new live search it also changed the way it links words to definitions so that only single words and idioms are linked to definitions.  Additionally, the dictionary links are now pointing to definition pages on Google instead of answers.com.  Since multiple search terms no longer link, unthunk (and presumably Googlewhack) cannot validate whacks by checking for links when checking that the pair of terms returns only one result.  Link checking could be removed altogether or moved in single word score checking, but the former would change the rules and the latter would require additional searches.  As it is now, single word searches to get the counts per word are not performed unless pair checking show both are linked and only one result.

So for now, it’s dead, Jim.

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