Why doesn't Google allow Boolean searches?

It would save a lot of time. Or is it there and I never discovered how to do it?

Here are the instructions It is easy to do once you have their system.

That still doesn’t allow for full Boolean searches, which would require grouping (typically indicated with parentheses). For instance, if I want pages that all contain A, and then also contain either B or C, then I could do A & B | C (or since Google assumes the and by default, A B | C ). But suppose I want pages that contain both A and B, and I also want pages that contain C even if they don’t have those. In a true Boolean search, I could say (A & B) | C, but I can’t do that with Google.

“a b” or c

That’s still not right…“a b” will be interpreted as “search for pages containing the string ‘a b’”, and NOT as “search for pages containing ‘a’ and ‘b’”.

Thank you all very much.

When I want to do complex Boolean searches, I just use altavista instead.

wow–is altavista still around?
I used it a lot in the 1990’s, especially because of its wild card options.
You could search for “diab*” and it would find references to diabetes, and also diabetic, etc.

I heard a couple years ago that their spiders weren’t being updated (or some such techie talk)

is altavista today a good alternative to google?

AltaVista is owned by Yahoo and uses Yahoo’s search engine for results and repackages it. So the results would be the same as using Yahoo, but the order will be altered a bit

“c OR a b” doesn’t work?

I’d think the Google search string would be:

(A B) OR C

Google treats the space between “A B” as “and” (in your terms, “&”). To my knowledge the ampersand isn’t in the Google syntax. The “OR” operator does exactly what you’d expect. The parenthesis tells Google you want to set the priority of A and B higher than B OR C.


I tried (diabetes alcohol) | “cute puppies” but didn’t get any hits for the latter.

as for why, my WAG is that they don’t want smart-aleks figuring out their own workarounds around their proprietary page ranking system.

I did. :slight_smile:

What I really wish they had was punctuation or an escape character (and indexing of terms with such symbols). “C++” seems to be a special case.

Maybe I can help. Can you please give me a specific example to play around with?

That search seems to return mostly pages with both the puppies and the diabetes. For a better test, let’s take some searches with much fewer hits. Searching for zymolosely polydactyl tongue returns 29 hits, and plectrum Olorin gives 56 results. I haven’t thoroughly checked that there’s no overlap in those sets, but assuming there isn’t, then the search (zymolosely polydactyl tongue) or (plectrum Olorin) ought to return 85 results. In fact, it doesn’t return any. Well, OK, by the time you read this, it’ll probably return this thread, but it doesn’t return any right now.

It gets worse. (Well, for me anyway. Anytime I come up short on having the final, definitive <StentorianVoiceMode> True Answer </StentorianVoiceMode> on things of a software nature I get a little bummed. :rolleyes: Never mind.)

When I use the string

(zymolosely polydactyl tongue)

I get a lower record count than

zymolosely polydactyl tongue

(N.B. the absence of the parenthesis.)

My understanding is that the parenthesis are for grouping purposes only and shouldn’t affect the results of the search if there’s nothing outside them.

OTOH that doesn’t seem to be the case with using parenthesis (or not) around

plectrum Olorin

How weird is that?!?!

BTW according to Google using “or” as an operator requires it to be in all caps i.e., “OR”.

Yep, it returns this thread now.

According to that page, “The AND operator, by the way, is the default, so it is not needed.”

My problem is that I expect additional search words to narrow the search down, but it often has the opposite effect.

For example: apple superman returns “About 2,610,000 results”. I would expect all of those results to contain both the word “apple” and also the word “superman”, right?

But apple superman tokyo returns “About 5,200,000 results”. Shouldn’t this be fewer? How did I end up with double the number of results?