155: Search History

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Search History
SomethingAwful has a wonderful compilation of crazy AOL searches in their Weekend Web archives, 2006-08-13.
Title text: SomethingAwful has a wonderful compilation of crazy AOL searches in their Weekend Web archives, 2006-08-13.

Explanation[edit]

The comic references the AOL search data leak, where users had potentially identifying and embarrassing search histories published. Randall thus publishes his own potentially embarrassing searches. All of his searches relate to his fear of dinosaurs, mainly velociraptors, as a consequence of Jurassic Park. The search "Utahraptor" may be a reference to Dinosaur Comics, which xkcd has parodied in 145: Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics. Alternatively, "Utahraptor" may be referenced because the raptors portrayed in Jurassic Park were much more like utahraptors than velociraptors in terms of size.

The title text refers to a document posted on a humor site: link (part 1) link (part 2), link (part 3).

Table explaining each search item, from first to most recent
How to tell if my neighbors are raptors Randall is starting to become paranoid about raptors, and this is his first search term on the matter. He wants to know if his neighbors are raptors, presumably to move house if they are, even though Velociraptors died out 71 million years ago.
can raptors pick locks Randall wants to know if raptors can enter his house if he locks it
do raptors fear death To see if the scare tactic will work, he sees whether raptors fear death. Unfortunately, they don't, which is also shown in the next search.
how to make a molotov cocktail As a precaution, he wants to know how to make molotov cocktails to fight off raptors if needed.
do raptors fear fire Having seen how to make molotov cocktails, he is having doubts on whether they will work.
treating raptor wounds In the unlikely event that he gets wounded by a raptors and actually survives, he wants to know how to treat the wounds.
tire irons Since velociraptors do not fear fire, he wants tire irons to hit them with. Tire irons are heavy, so they should hurt raptors.
big-game rifles Having thought about getting close to raptors to hit them, he realized that it's not a very clever idea, so he is now planning to shoot them from a distance.
learning from mistakes in jurassic park If you google this search term, the results are about where Jurassic Park got its dinosaurs wrong, but he probably wanted to know where Jurassic Park made mistakes in keeping the dinosaurs in captivity.
site:en.wikipedia.org surviving a raptor attack “site:” is a google operator https://searchengineland.com/what-you-can-learn-from-googles-site-operator-14052

He has inevitably gone on wikipedia on how to survive a raptor attack, as Randall heavily relies on wikipedia for anything he wants to know.

robert bakker "possible raptor sympathizer" Robert Bakker is an American paleontologist who has written a book (Raptor Red) about the life of a female Utahraptor (see below). This has apparently caused Randall to suspect he is a "raptor sympathizer".
robert bakker paleontologist Randall is now looking for more general information on Robert Bakker. He has presumably included "paleontologist" to filter out results about Robert Bakker the Dutch rower.
surviving a raptor attack Randall has entered survival mode. Literally. He now just wants to survive the perceived raptors.
security home improvements He is now reinforcing his home against possible entry points (e.g. the windows).
"home depot" deadbolts Randall is so paranoid about raptors existing and being able to pick locks that he is installing deadbolts. He is choosing to buy the deadbolts from Home Depot, a common American home improvement store.
utahraptor He now wants to get information about different raptors, so in this case Utahraptors (bigger raptors basically).
dromaeosaurids This isn't a type of raptor, but it now seems that Randall is now paranoid about smaller, fast dinosaurs in general. Dromaeosauridae is the taxonomic family that encloses all types of raptor.
raptors Randall is continuing to research raptors, as he really wants to be safe against them.
site:imdb.com "jurassic park" imdb is a website for reviews, so Randall is now looking at reviews/writing a review for Jurassic Park.
velociraptors He is searching for Velociraptors now, so he should have all the information he needs to hold off small fast dinosaurs.


Transcript[edit]

Cueball: In solidarity with the many AOL users whose often embarrassing web searches were released to the public, I offer a sample of my own search history:
[There is a screencap of Google's front page with the following entries suggested for autocompletion below the search box:]
velociraptors
site:imdb.com "jurassic park"
raptors
dromaeosaurids
utahraptor
"home depot" deadbolts
security home improvement
surviving a raptor attack
robert bakker paleontologist
robert bakker "possible raptor sympathizer"
site:en.wikipedia.org surviving a raptor attack
learning from mistakes in jurassic park
big-game rifles
tire irons
treating raptor wounds
do raptors fear fire
how to make a molotov cocktail
do raptors fear death
can raptors pick locks
how to tell if my neighbors are raptors


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Discussion

Here's a link to the somethingawful page mentioned in the title text (part 2, part 3). ‎141.70.81.143 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

People of the distant future, this is what google looked like today. Kripmo (talk) 00:50, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

Google actually looked like that?! Truly, the modern world is a wonderful place, compared to the drop-shadow hellscape pictured in this comic. Just look at all that font hinting, and no anti-aliasing in sight! The horror! ~AgentMuffin

Should we create a table explaining each one? 172.68.47.6 01:24, 17 November 2017 (UTC)

Yes! I know what I will be doing for the rest of this lesson. Beanie (talk) 09:32, 15 December 2020 (UTC)

It has been just shy of five years since Kripmo's. Google has changed very little, the fonts having slimmed down slightly and very little else.

Either they have reached stability or it has not been long enough. 172.68.38.98 03:06, 23 July 2020 (UTC)

I think the table is in the wrong order. It makes more sense for Randall to search "robert bakker paleontologist" first before moving on to the more specific query about bakker. Similarly, it makes more sense for the more general search term "raptor" to be search before more specific queries about types of raptors. Finally, if read top to bottom, the search results present a reasonable line of thought that gradually devolves into absurdity, a common theme that shows up across xkcd comics. I know that this is the opposite of how actual google searches would be presented in real life, but it's reasonable to think that Randall would have sacrificed exact accuracy in favor of a more easily readable format. 108.162.210.104 05:53, 17 December 2020 (UTC)

In google, the most recent search terms are on the top. I did the table with the most recent on the bottom, to make it easier to follow. Beanie (talk) 10:15, 17 December 2020 (UTC)
Although yes, Randall didn't seem to pay much attention to how the searches were organised. Beanie (talk) 12:43, 17 December 2020 (UTC)