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December 12, 2004

Google Guessing: An Ego-Surfing Game

It's "Google Guessing": A new way to be neurotic about your popularity online through the new Google Suggest function, in which Google tries to guess what you want to search on while you're typing in the word. Here are the rules of Google Guessing:

1. Go to Google Suggest (it's in beta).
2. Begin typing your name -- first and last.
3. Count how many letters of your last name you have to type until your full name shows up in the suggestion window without scrolling. In the case that your full name shows up before you type in a letter of your last name (for example, if your name is "John Kerry"), use the number "0.5".
4. Note the number of results listed.
5. If you have a common name (you know who you are), click through and count how many pages of references go by before you personally get a mention (this is an updated step).
6. Divide the "results" number of step four by the "letters entered" number in step three, and then (if applicable) divide that number by the number in step five. This is your "Google Guessing Rank," or GGR for short.
7. Compare your GGR with others for sheer neurotic sport. A higher GGR suggests there are more references to you online and/or that enough people search on your name that Google has a good idea they're looking for you earlier than later.

In my case it takes three letters of my last name before I show up in the suggestion window, and "John Scalzi" is noted to have 108,000 results attached to it. Therefore my GGR is (108000/3) = 36,000.

How does 36,000 compare? Let's see.

George Bush (15,800,000/0.5) = 33,600,000
John Kerry (12,000,000/0.5) = 24,000,000
Glenn Reynolds (1,100,000/1) = 1,100,000
Josh Marshall (971,000/1) = 971,000
Neil Gaiman (460,000/0.5) = 920,000
Cory Doctorow (179,000/0.5) = 378,000
James Lileks (242,000/1) = 242,000
Patrick Nielsen Hayden (81,000/2) = 40,500
Dan Drezner (115,000/3) = 38,333

In other words: Meh.

Now, obviously there are flaws with the methodology. For example, not every "John Scalzi" referenced is going to be me, so there's some noise inherent in the system -- which would be even greater if you only tracked your last name (and the noise is much greater if you have a common name -- note some of the comments below -- which is why I added in step five). Also, this doesn't take into account name variations ("Daniel Drezner" instead of "Dan Drezner," for example -- and since "Daniel Drezner" has a GGR of about 90,000, maybe he'd want to go with that).

However, excessive picking apart of the methodology means that one is veering dangerously close to taking it seriously, and if one does that, one should probably step away from the computer for a decade or two. This is supposed to be fun. Good, clean, ha-ha-ha-my-GGR-totally-pwned-your-GGR -so-I'm-prettier-and-more-popular-than-you fun.

So, what's your GGR?

Posted by john at December 12, 2004 05:12 PM

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» Google suggests from wake up!
Trying out the Google Guessing Rank (GGR) game outlined by Jon Scalzi, I got a kick out of watching what Google Suggest (it's a beta) thought I might be searching for until I got four letters into my last name. Here's the literal sequence if I type all... [Read More]

Tracked on December 13, 2004 02:31 AM

» My GGR from JaBbA's Hut
Well, a new ego-stroking game on the Internet. Google Guessing. Instructions are at Whatever. Letters of last name: 3 Number of Hits: 40,700 Page my first mention: Actually, I'm first, thanks to this blog. 40,700/3 = 13,588 GGR [Read More]

Tracked on December 15, 2004 12:23 PM

» Google Guessing Game from Librarian's Rant
JaBba just turned me on to this newest of the Google-related games (a la Googlism): Google Guessing. Instructions at Whatever. Number of letters of last name: 3 Results: 220 (this doesn't include this blog, which doesn't list my full name) My G [Read More]

Tracked on December 15, 2004 01:41 PM

» Google Guessing Rank from Yeraze's Weblog
I found this link today about "Google Guessing Rank". Basically, a neurotic way of generating a number of how popular you are on the internet. Go try it What's my rank? 750 .. Barely a blip on the radar. And I don't know how, but PatrickNeal has a [Read More]

Tracked on December 15, 2004 03:31 PM

» Google Guessing Rank from Yeraze's Weblog
I found this link today about "Google Guessing Rank". Basically, a neurotic way of generating a number of how popular you are on the internet. Go try it What's my rank? 750 .. Barely a blip on the radar. And I don't know how, but PatrickNeal has a [Read More]

Tracked on December 26, 2004 12:32 PM


Jon Hansen | December 12, 2004 06:45 PM

Amazing. My GGR is 270,000, which puts me laughably higher than Lileks. Thank you, Denmark, for pushing up my numbers.

JamesG | December 12, 2004 06:46 PM

Wow! I have never been so happy that I was cursed with a very common name. I typed in James Goodm and suddenly my name (Goodman) showed up in the box. I hit enter and it read 1-10 of 1,520,000. So my GGR is what... 304,000?

How cool is that?

Lee Newberry | December 12, 2004 06:47 PM

Letters of last name: 4
Results: 299,000
GGR: 74,750

Interesting Statistics
Number of results that are actually about me: 4 or 5
Number of those results that refer to things I have written in comment on this website: 3

So how the hell did I get a higher DDR than the man whose coattials I rest my google presence on? Geneaology databases. There's a lot of Newberrys in the south.

Chris Lehmann | December 12, 2004 07:17 PM

165,000 / 3 = 55000.


John Needham | December 12, 2004 07:19 PM

Letters of last name: 3
Results: 297,000
GGR: 99,000

Number that apply to me: Likely, very few. There is a John Needham & Company (not affiliated with me) and a Needham, MA (also not affiliated with me, though I've been there).

Number that apply to me on the first five pages: Zero

I retreat now, humbled, to happy anonymity.

Darkhawk | December 12, 2004 07:28 PM

My full legal name, with middle name, does not come up at all. (1/0!) Nor does forename-initial-surname or initials-surname.

It takes four characters of my surname (out of twelve total, including the space) to get my forename/surname combo to appear; 14,400 hits there gives me a score of 3600.

My default handle (used on the net far more often than my legal name, but unfortunately shared with a Marvel superhero) takes five characters but gives 19700 hits for a score of 3940. (Hm. I used to have more of the top ten Google hits for Darkhawk.)

JamesG | December 12, 2004 07:29 PM

Ah, man! I went back and scrolled through the results, I reached page 4 before I found one that was actually about me and it was my blog on PM. Oh well, that will teach me to go back and look. Daddy always told me, you can never go back. :)

Kevin Q | December 12, 2004 07:36 PM

Letters of last name typed: 1
Results: 804,000
GGR = 804,000 / 1

Kevin Quinn's GGR: 804,000.

Hmmm. Must be riding somebody else's coattails, because I am completely unimportant. Fun game, though. The best part was looking down the list and seeing what else they put with my name:
"kevin quinn fired"
?!?!? Well, I guess that's one way to find out.


Vardibidian | December 12, 2004 07:42 PM

Real name score (shared with a television personality and sometime senate candidate) 249,000. Although clicking through to the search page shows twice as many results as the Suggests page, which would double the score.

My net name is 963/6 or 160.5, but then all of the results are about (or more often by) me, so that's closer to my real level of nonexistent fame than the quarter-million number.


Scott | December 12, 2004 09:02 PM

Mine rolls in at around 91,000. Considering that I don't even have a website, that's pretty good. People must be talking about me (doesn't matter what they're saying - any publicity is good publicity, right?).


Daniel H. Alvarez | December 12, 2004 09:03 PM

Letters of last name: 3
Results: 717,000
GGR: 239,000

Kewl. Lots and lots of Daniel Alvarezes out there in the Spanish speakin' world. First 20 or so Google pages didn't show results that had anything to do with me. I blame John. He kilt off a lot of old comment threads. I used to show up for real. Now I am nobody *sob*.

Daniel H. Alvarez | December 12, 2004 09:05 PM

Oooooh, I just typed in my GF's name and got zilch. She doesn't exist!

Ellen | December 12, 2004 09:16 PM

Letters of last name: 2
Results: 553,000
GGR: 276,500

...right. I'm betting none of those mentions are actually about me.

If I put my middle name in, it doesn't show up at all. Clearly, if I ever become famous, I'll have to go by the trendy three-name name.

Cavan | December 12, 2004 09:35 PM

Letters of last name: 1
Results: 835
GGR: 835

It'd probably be lower if I didn't have such an odd first name.

Matt McIrvin | December 12, 2004 09:54 PM

Mine's 9233. 3 letters, 27,700 results, and I'm pretty sure that all but a very few of those results are about me. But it still seems too high in comparison to some people I think of as fairly prominent, such as Drezner and PNH. I think that in the late 1990s I used to have a more prominent presence on the Internet than I do now, and part of it's the memory of that.

Jinnet | December 12, 2004 10:02 PM

I'm indignant. My name never came up! I am invisible! (I am not Daniel Alvarez's girlfriend, either. I guess I should make that clear.)

Jonathan Mann | December 12, 2004 10:29 PM

Well, my name showed up with the first surname letter typed - 921,000 results.

Of course, it helps when you share a name with a famous AIDS researcher, who also has an award named after him...

Jeff Porten | December 12, 2004 10:49 PM

My rank is somewhere in the 2,300s, which I was pretty happy with until I read these comments. How many brownie points do I get because a large portion of the pages are actually related to me?

What truly bugs me is that a search for my name on Google Images brings up a guy who is NOT me, who is at a conference that I could have conceivably attended, and who looks enough like me to fool the unwary. Would love to track that bastard down and get him to change his name -- but aside from the picture, he doesn't appear in Google Vanilla.

Naomi Kritzer | December 12, 2004 10:55 PM

Letters of last name: 2.
Number of results: 7,170.

So my number is a highly unimpressive 3,585. However, most of these results are actually me. There aren't any other Naomi Kritzers on the Internet, or at least there weren't any the last time I checked. Some of the hits reference a Naomi somewhere on the page and a Kritzer somewhere else, but a substantial number are actually me.

Mitch Wagner | December 13, 2004 12:06 AM


Daniel H. Alvarez | December 13, 2004 12:19 AM

Maybe there should be some sort of multiplier for number of results returned on the first page that actually refer to you, as opposed to the Peruvian photographer who shares your name...

Morris Nye | December 13, 2004 01:01 AM

Letters of last name: 3. All 3 of them. After having "Morris Ny" suggested instead.

Results: 30. Of course, the second one is directly related to me .. well, at least if you search "morris nye". The rest are some congressman or something.

Which gives me a GGR of 10. Yay, go me!

Paul | December 13, 2004 01:38 AM

Letters of my last name typed: 3
Results found: 15,100,000
Which puts my GGR at about 5 million. Who's gonna top that babies?
Oh, then there's this stat...
Number of results that are actually about me: I've yet to find one.

Paul | December 13, 2004 01:43 AM

Ok, I stand corrected. Right now the second result I get is my blog, but my real name does not appear anywhere in it. The search results are keying in on two different words in two different entries that put together make my name. That's just plain weird.

Melissa | December 13, 2004 01:47 AM

1,368,000 for Melissa Ford. Actually, my full name shows up on the suggestion window as soon as I type in "Meli." Sometimes, having a common name is cool.

xian | December 13, 2004 02:20 AM

I got a rock.... 4025 (16,100 / 4)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | December 13, 2004 07:57 AM

Interesting. As you noted, my score is 81,000 divided by 2 characters = 40,500.

In Teresa's case, however, you need to type only the N in "Nielsen Hayden", so her score is an undivided 53,600.

One place where this methodology yields arguably aberrant results is people whose online identity consists of a single name. "Atrios"'s score is a reasonable 322,000/0.5 = 644,000. However, "Kos" gets 2,660,000/0.5 = 5,320,000. It's true that The Daily Kos has surpassed Instapundit's traffic this year to become the most-read political blog on the net. It's very doubtful that Kos is in fact five times more popular than Instapundit.

Other interesting scores:

Tom Doherty 498,000/3 = 166,000
Susanna Clarke 213,000/0.5 = 526,000
Jo Walton 187,000/1 = 187,000
Jane Yolen 141,000/1 = 141,000
Eliot Spitzer 246,000/0.5 = 492,000

Sue | December 13, 2004 08:36 AM

I'm not Daniel Alvarez's girlfriend, either, but I apparently don't exist, either. My last name isn't anywhere on my website, though, so maybe that's why.

Brian Greenberg | December 13, 2004 08:38 AM

In round numbers: 390,000 / 3 / 77 = 1,688.

Interestingly enough, the 77th entry is a Whatever comment, as is the 128th (the next one about me). Son the lesson seems to be: improve your GGR - post comments to popular blogs.

Brian Greenberg | December 13, 2004 08:57 AM

Oops...just re-read rule #5. Revised ranking:

390,000 / 3 / 7 = 18,580

Meaningless waves of self-importance abound...

Colm Mac | December 13, 2004 09:12 AM

GGR: 3.166 recurring

Good thing my ego is being saved by the fact that when I search for my name exactly (First Name and Surname only) I only get results which are me uniquely.

Colm Mac +TEN more letters

Steve Brady | December 13, 2004 09:14 AM

Letters of last name: 3
Results: 1,160,000
Page of personal reference: 1
GGR: 386,667

This feels me with self-importance and confidence which will no doubt be postively reflected in the exam that I'm taking in 15 minutes.

Steve Eley | December 13, 2004 09:50 AM

Holy cow.

Letters of last name: 3
Results: 44,000
GGR: 14,666

This isn't high, but it was a lot better than I was expecting. And of the first 10 results, 9 of them referred to me. (The other is some guy who writes books about cricket. I wonder if he gets annoyed at me when *he* Googles "Stephen Eley.")

Richard Campbell | December 13, 2004 09:51 AM

Letters of last name: 2
Results: 5,860,000
Page of personal reference: 9 (ouch)
GGR: 325,555

Jim | December 13, 2004 09:54 AM

Typing in "Jim" brings up Jim Carrey -- adding "L" for first letter of last name brings Jim Lee as first choice followed by Jim Lehrer and then Jim Lawrence as third -- with 11,600,000 results. If I select Jim Lawrence, the eleventh reference is to me (1st entry on 2nd page of results) but there no other actual reference to me in the next forty pages of results (which is as far as I had the patience to search). I don't tend to use my full name on my Web page and I don't make news so I guess I'm flying below Google's radar and there are a lot of people who share my name who are more newsworthy.

So -- 11,600,000 divided by 1 = 11,6000,000 -- then divided by the result of step 5 -- But is this the number of pages of results (2 for having to go to the second page of results) or is it 11 because it was the 11th page listed in results? Assuming that I should divide by 11, my GoogleGuessingRank is 1,054,545 (and it's got a repeating decimal .4545454545... is it geeky to think that is cool?)

John Scalzi | December 13, 2004 10:34 AM

"(and it's got a repeating decimal .4545454545... is it geeky to think that is cool?)"

Yeah, but what about this isn't.

Jim Millen | December 13, 2004 10:46 AM

Huh. GGR of 5778. That'll teach me to share a name with an apparently well known radio engineer.

Q | December 13, 2004 11:46 AM


Letters of lastname: 2
Results: 5,650,000
GGR: 2,825,000

Of course... I share a name with one mildly famous individual... and I'm quite sure virtually none of them are in reference to me... so... it looks good on paper if we ignore step 5.. Hehe.

JamesG | December 13, 2004 03:31 PM

Ok, after going back through and including step 5, I now have the still pretty impressive GGR of 76000.

Zzedar | December 13, 2004 03:49 PM

It doesn't guess my name at all. If I enter in my full name, however, it will find about forty references, of which three are me personally.

Laura | December 13, 2004 04:23 PM

Yay -- a Google game to play. 12,300 results for my name; Had to type three letters of my last name; GGR=4100. A reference to me appeared on the first page of results.

Tom Nixon | December 13, 2004 08:56 PM

Letters of my last name = 3.
GGR = 346,666

Very skewed, though. Mine should probably be thrown out because I share my last name with a former president. I was interested, though, to find out when I clicked through that I was listed first (so that also didn't help). Even higher than Thomas Nixon Carver (well-known researcher).

Christopher Davis | December 13, 2004 09:03 PM


One letter of last name. 6.6 million references. First page.

GGR = 6.6 million. Well ahead of Glenn Reynolds.

Why? I have common first and last names, and I've been online for quite a while...so I have lots of links to my home page, making it the second listed hit.

Dave Worley | December 13, 2004 09:10 PM

letters typed: 8
results: 218,000

Number of results that apply to me on the first page: 1
Who's number 1 for Dave Worley on Google? ME!

gloat, gloat

Patrick Fitzgibbon | December 13, 2004 10:11 PM

Letters into last name - 5
hits - 40,000
ggr= 8,000

But,. . . . .not one is me.

Grumble, frazzle ..

O.K. let's check my nome de something-or-other

letters typed = all 6
hits = 1 (!)
But this time I got the first 2 or 3 calls.
Hey, I do exist.

Diana | December 13, 2004 10:19 PM

Letters of last name: 2
Results: 91,900
GGR: 45,950.

Snicker I bet a chunk of those sites are for cooking rather than for my art. I can't get away from the last name Sprinkle that easily. =D


Scott Spiegelberg | December 14, 2004 11:05 AM

Google Suggest does not work for me. I'm using IE 5.1 for Mac on a TiBook G4, OS 10.1.5. Anybody else not get it to work? I tried "John Scalzi" as a test after my name didn't work, and still got no suggestions.

Zzedar | December 14, 2004 04:13 PM

This is weird. Nobody in my family shows up on Google Suggest - except my dog. She's got a GGR of almost 700 (696⅔, to be precise).

DPWally | December 14, 2004 05:40 PM

Do I get a 0 if it stopped making suggestions on the 6th (of 11) letter of my last name?

Since a standard Google search comes up with 38 results for my name (4 of them me), Google Suggests should have come up with it eventually. Still in beta, right?

Harry Connolly | December 15, 2004 11:49 AM

Letters of last name: 5 (curse you Harry Connick Jr.! /shakes fist at radio)
Number of hits: 294,000
The eighth link on the first page is actually me, but I'm sure most of the hits point to other people.

Tripp | December 15, 2004 11:55 AM

This. Sucks.

I am a google nobody. I think a bunch of snobs must have invented this game. Rotten elitists.

Justin Alcorn | December 15, 2004 12:23 PM

Letters of last name: 3
Hits: 40,700
GGR: 13,588

The first hit is me...then a bunch of track results for a guy named "Justin" at Alcorn State University.

Cherie | December 16, 2004 10:56 AM

Well, that was interesting. My name came up pretty fast (2 letters) and there were 130,000 links, mostly because there is a relatively famous humanitarian with my name. "I" was found on the 6th link, but on the first page, so I guess that makes my GGR 65,000.

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