January 21, 2022

Web Search: Google Drops Another Search Operator: Tilde For Synonyms

From Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land:

Google has quietly dropped another search operator, the tilde (i.e. ~) search operator.

Google Operating System blog noticed the lack of support for the tilde operator over the weekend. Reportedly, Dan Russell, a Search Research Scientist at Google, confirmed Google dropped the feature. Dan said the feature was dropped to “lack of use.”

The SEL blog post also lists a number of other search features Google has dropped in recent months.

Read the Complete Blog Post (includes Comments From Google’s Dan Russell)


We’ve been saying this for years, Google has many audiences to try to make happy including shareholders. They are not solely in business to meet the needs of power searchers who use the advanced features they make available. 

Google spends money in many different areas (where don’t they invest in tech?). Nevertheless, offering the tilde operator (and other advanced tools) can cost them “time, money, and energy” they would rather spend elsewhere. Remember, Google (and other general web search tools) are not in the information retrieval biz vs. more traditional vendors known to the library community. While they do provide information/data their revenue is derived from advertising and marketing services. 

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.