I want to ask a question about how Google (and other search engines) manage complex developer related searches when dealing with different versions of different software, etc. Which community would be best suited for answering such a question?

Here, I'll just write the question out as if I was posting it. The rest of this post is the question I'd like to ask but don't know exactly where to put it:

I've noticed for some time now that Google (as amazing of a search engine as it is) and Amazon, as well as other large search platforms are still having a difficult time producing relevant results when searching for version specific information. Why does this seem to still be such a difficult feat to pull off?

For example let's say I'd like to find out how to install rvm on ubuntu. Here's the search I might perform: "installing rvm ubuntu".

I find it odd that - by default, the first several results are all for Ubuntu 16 or 14 ... articles that are clearly written several years ago; especially considering I'm searching from an Ubuntu 19.10 machine. It seems that would be taken into account.

I've also noticed oddities when searching version specific issues. Notably Apache, MySQL, Ruby, PHP (PHP searches are horrible with Google) and Python is pretty bad as well.

I've even had a few times where I entered a non-version question, got a pretty dated result set, then decided to clarity by adding version numbers, and ended up with an even more dated result set. I don't even understand how that's possible.

That, combined with the fact that Google should know my searches pretty well by now. After years of development related searches, shouldn't it be fairly well up-to-date with what versions I'm currently using and what I'm looking for?

So, I'm really just technically curious as to why this seems to still be an issue.

I get that google is complex, and it's probably well beyond my capability to grasp exactly what it's doing behind the scenes. In no way am I knocking it. However, given that such odd results seem to still be so abundant and so similar across the megalithic software groups (Amazon is pretty bad at this as well - returning the exact model numbers your searching for first seems to be something it is utterly incapable of doing), I suspect then that it's probably a technical hurdle that we've still not figured out collectively.

What exactly is that hurdle? Why does it seem from the user's end to still have such a difficult time with it all?

1 Answer 1


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