Who can whack a Google on the Web?

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The Independent Online

The intellectually unstimulating task of asking questions of internet search engines has exploded into a new sport: "Googlewhacking".

The task is simple: find the shortest number of everyday words that can be entered into the Google search engine that come up with one – but only one – "hit".

It might sound like trying to hit the bull's-eye in darts – the sort of thing that just takes a bit of practice. But that's entirely untrue, say those who do it.

For one thing, Google has indexed the words on two billion Web pages. For another, it is constantly updated – so that simply reporting the words that constitute a Googlewhack (such as one, "ramify freakishly", reported late last year) puts them on a second page, so you no longer have a Googlewhack. It's more like trying to hit a bull's-eye that keeps vanishing.

"It's ephemeral," said Gary Stock, a web roamer who came up with the word. "The day I created the word 'Googlewhack' it was a Googlewhack. Not any more."

Not by 704 hits, in fact, despite the fact that he coined the word on 8 January this year. (By the time you read this, of course, Google may have indexed The Independent's web page and upped the total.)

Getting a Googlewhack in two words is the mark of a master – and in one represents the acme of the game.

Dane Carlson, another player, reckons that it arouses a new hunter's desire in the web surfer: "With true Googlewhacking, when you log your discoveries you know that you'll be the only person to ever discover them. No one else can experience that same moment of joy. There is a finite number of Googlewhacks available, and you have one of them all to yourself."

Sample Googlewhacks (once, anyway): hellkite flamingo; capricious pulper; fringe willowing phenomenon; octopi jujitsu; kyphosis lightbulb; vigilantes jerkiness.

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