Riese’s Team Pick: Google is Butchering the Written Word

This is not tl;dr, because it might be super long, but nothing is really too long, is it? I mean you read a lot of words in that Harry Potter book. So read this: GOOGLE IS BUTCHERING THE WRITTEN WORD: or, “How to Buy PEX Tubing Online” from Wags Revue.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3223 articles for us.


  1. I think that site is butchering the written word… I went to save it on my phone to read later, but there’s no way to?

  2. This was a great read, even though I am still not sure what point he was ultimately trying to make.

    Also, I love reading long things! If, like me, you’re often teetering over the RSI precipice, then you want as many words per click as possible as the next click could push you into that fiery pit of wrist pain. Although actually that essay’s format did require a lot of clicking. Hmm.

    Anyway, all that stuff about information hijacking for profit sounds bad, but to be honest not the most immoral business practices I’ve ever heard of.

    As an information consumer, I don’t have a problem with all the ad shenanigans for a couple of reasons:

    1. Having matured in an era with high information and advertising saturation, it is second nature to filter out all the crap.

    Maybe people will make the mistake of clicking on shoddy sites like Howto once, but you quickly learn how to filter results, mentally if not physically, as well as knowing that certain search strings will get you more/less commercial and/or shonky results.

    I think this is all basic stuff, but then my google skills are so hot that sometimes I arouse even myself with them.

    2. Erm, hello Ad Block? There’s really no reason to see ads at all, and this finally came to Chrome a couple of days ago, which might make me consider switching to it.

    However, I really recommend anyone that does use ad blocking to read this: http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2010/03/why-ad-blocking-is-devastating-to-the-sites-you-love.ars

    Personally, if I do really like a site and use it regularly, I prefer to pay directly via donation/subscription rather than ads.

    • I turn off my adblock software for Autostraddle! If you’re like me and just hate Facebook ads, I suggest you do the same. :)

    • The way that content is catered to fit SEO ideals is actually fucking up the way newspapers, blogs and magazines run their content too. I have a lot of feelings on this which I will share on technostraddle one day!

      But I still think it’s weird that we accept this system which has become now totally flawed and that google doesn’t give us the results we like anymore.

      If I actually want to find info, I’m way more likely to use google news or blogsearch then standard google, which is crushed by like, starpulse or ehow or whatever. I dunno. I’M SCARED YOU GUYS MAYBE I CAN’T EVEN SAY THIS STUFF

  3. It only took a few minutes to read. It just looks long. Read it. Riese wouldn’t guide you in the wrong direction.

  4. If all of the raindrops were lemon drop and gumdrops
    Oh what a world this would be.
    I’d stand around with my mouth open wide
    goin’ ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah
    If all of the raindrops were lemon drop and gumdrops
    Oh what a world this would be.

    I have escaped into this thread for some rainbows and sunshine. I loved the ‘essayist’s’ essay. Still can’t believe i was reading about SEO and waterpipes. Awesome.

  5. Good read – sorta reminds me of David Foster Wallace, who you’ve mentioned on AS before.

    He makes some good points. I used to be able to find the most relevant websites with Google but it’s been going downhill for some time now. I now use it only when I know what I’m looking for or just need an update/quick info. I usually opt for other online resources for any serious research.

    • agreed. it did remind me of dfw, yes. the serious academic tone at times but also the random usage of casual vernacular amid serious analysis in a way that made me laugh. this sentence, the one i just wrote, was a mess. i’m in an airport!

      Google has become too corrupt, now the methods I use to find info are so personal and complicated that I am bad at telling interns how to do what I do every day to find what I need to find. Google Image Search is a mess.

  6. So I read this article and then this thing, which was linked by said article, and then I cleared my cache, cleared my history, deleted my cookies, am afraid to use gmail ever again and will probs quit the internet soon.

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