[When Google first came on the scene, its defaulting to "AND" search] was a godsend for savvy users. Because every term appeared in results, you could continue to refine your queries by simply adding new words to the search bar until you found what you were looking for.
As Google grew in popularity, this didn't scale. Non-technical users don't know what search terms to use or how to use search modifiers, and they shouldn't have to. Instead, Google needed to read minds to find what their mainstream audience was looking for, even if it meant ignoring what they actually wrote.
They started with the introduction of spelling suggestions, with "do you mean?" prompts introduced in 2003. By 2009, these were so successful that Google replaced the user's search with the corrected words by default, though they always explicitly explained the change.
In January 2009, however, Google began experimenting with silently ignoring search terms completely. For anyone deep-diving Google for the dark corners of the Internet, this change was hard to swallow. For the first time, searches were unreliable — an "or" search instead of an "and" search.
Google has suddenly and recently shifted away from a "cool company"/"do no evil" into something more and more like Apple and Microsoft (and Verizon etc). I would peg this around 3 months ago; did something change inside of Google around that time?
Does anybody actually use Google's products regularly apart from the search engine and Gmail? It seems like these two are completely dominating every market, with a nod here or there to one or two shared documents. But, of course, this is just me.
An aside...Am I wrong in thinking that, back in the mists of time, wasn't a verbatim search exactly what Google originally performed? In my recollection, it seems the substitutions are relatively recent developments.
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