Did Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" button change?

In another thread, someone mentioned Larry Niven’s “Convergent Series”. I couldn’t quite remember which story that was, so I went to Google.

I used “Convergent Series” niven for my search terms. I was “Feeling Lucky” so I clicked that button, but it took me to an Amazon shopping site for the book. So I backed up and used the “Google Search” button instead. But the Amazon link was listed second, with Wikipedia first. Hmmm.

Did they change the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to take you to the first shopping result sometimes if it’s second? Maybe some deal with Amazon?

I’ve tried redoing the search and now the Lucky button does take me to the Wikipedia link, so I suppose is barely possible that the order of the links just happened to switch in the one minute between the two tries, but I’m highly skeptical of that explanation. The cynic in me believes they know I’m onto them…

IFL takes me to Amazon, but the first three hits normally are also Amazon, wiki 4th.

I’m only interested in cases where Amazon, or any site really, is not the first one listed when clicking the “Google Search” button, but is the result when picking the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.

I was wondering if Google had some agreement to favor shopping results for the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.

Google’s search algorithms are secret. Only Google knows exactly how the order of search results is decided.

Keep in mind, though, that “search” is not the business of Google, “advertising” is.

I believe that the order of search results can be based on your own usage of the search. So if you’ve been to that wiki page many times before, it’ll start showing up first. Like Cugel, my first result for that search is the Amazon page. It’s possible that that the order for IFL and regular search is different. For example, it may be something like “Bump this link up to the top of the page of regular search if the user has gone there three times, but don’t bump to the top of I’m Feeling Lucky until they’ve gone there four times.”

The phrase

“Convergent Series” niven

Takes me to Amazon (both with and without quotes)

But the phrase

“Convergent Series”

Takes me to Wikipedia (both with and without quotes)

So Google’s reasoning must be that people who want to buy will use both title and author, while people who just want info will use title only

Google is not one server, but a whole mess of them, and you don’t always get the same server every time you search. It’s possible for different servers to have slightly different ordering of results.

And this is because Google would much rather be fast than consistent, so taking the time to make sure a change is fully propagated before out to their (many, many) servers before it’s switched on is out of the question.

Why did it take me so long to realize this? I don’t HAVE an “I’m feeling lucky” button! Where did it go? How long has it been gone?

I will now explain: When I first go to Google, it has an empty space for me to type my search request, and below that are two buttons, labeled “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky”. However, as soon as I begin to type anything at all, those two buttons vanish. Instead, I now have a box with Google’s top 5 guesses for what I’m looking for, and the rest of the screen is filled with the Google Search pages found for the first of those five guesses.

Actually, I like this. It is extremely dynamic and fast. But I’m curious why the two buttons appear at all. I’m also wondering what is different about my setup which causes Google to act this way for me, while the rest of you all seem to still have a (dys)functional “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.

You have instant search on. There’s a link to toggle it to the right of the search bar (but not on the main page).