December 3, 2020

Disappeared: Google's U.S. Government Search Sites and Other Special Search Interfaces Gone

In the past few days we began noticing a number of Google Help Forum posts from users reporting that Google’s-Uncle Sam search is unavailable. The Uncle Sam interface provided a search of only government and military material and has been online for MANY years. “Uncle Sam” continues to redirect users to the Google homepage at this hour.

Another Google U.S. government search resource, USGov.Google.com is ALSO redirecting to the Google homepage. This site was “rebranded” on June 15, 2006 and received notice from a variety of sources. The USGov.Google.com documentation does remain online.

Reports say that users first noticed the redirects on June 2, 2011.

On Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz has also posted on the disappearance of both sites. He points out that Google is using a temporary redirect so perhaps this is a glitch or something else.

We wonder (and this is only a guess) if some new government site is planned to go live next week as USgov.Google.com marks its fifth anniversary.

As we’ve said in the past with similar situations, our issue is not with Google ending a service or temporarily taking it offline.

What does cause concern is that Google doesn’t let users know what’s going on until sometime after it happens or never make an announcement  Just because a service like USGov.Google.com is not used by the masses use doesn’t mean it’s any less important to those who do use it.

The reason for this might have something to do with advanced search sites and features in general. While 95% of users never use advanced search syntax (including members of the search team at Google) there are 5% of users who DO utilize these tools when they’re needed. With the vast amount of resources that Google has it’s difficult to imagine that they don’t have what’s needed to keep updates coming about comings and goings, syntax problems, etc.

In many cases Google is at or near the top of the list for getting their message(s) out to the public but in some situations it appears the opposite is true. We hope that the company looks at why this happens and find a way or ways to combat it.

INFOdocket finds it rather ironic that a company whose mission includes providing access to all of the world’s information has trouble providing updated info to users.

UPDATE: It appears that all of Google’s “Special Searches” for conducting limited searches of material about Linux, Macintosh, BSD, Microsoft as well as Uncle Sam are gone. Again, if this is the case why is the info page still live with the URL’s listed? Confusing! Why couldn’t a sentence or two explaining what’s going on be added to the page?

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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