Back in the day when the internet was a lad and Facebook but a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye, there was game called Google Whack. Like knurr and spell, it was an obscure and deceptively simple pastime and was practised by a band of nerdy enthusiasts in the dark corners of the web.
The object of Google Whack was to submit a two-word query that would produce just one result. The rules stated that you could not use exact phrase quotation marks, no punctuation, no numbers, just two legitimate words found together on just one page in cyberspace.
As a quest it was ultimately self-destructive. Having found and published your Google Whack on the web, it evaporated because by definition there would then be two results instead of one.
Even so, this holy grail was chased by a dedicated band of Monty Pythonesque knights and they uncovered thousands of GWs as they were known to the cognoscenti. I should have said that the title of this post is just one of my favourites, which came in at number 921, discovered by bib1350.
The fad faded and died in 2009 after Google stopped providing definition links and though ways were sought to make Google Whacks viable again, it hasn’t happened and the game went the way of knurr and spell.
What has this to do with the price of fish I hear you ask. Well I thought that an alternative might be to come up with questions that Google can’t find the answers to.
The thought came to me when I tried to find out what was the first book published on Kindle. There must have been one, but I’m blowed if Google knows.
I tried coming up some other questions that might leave the oracle stumped, like ‘how many grains of sand are there on a beach’ but that was too easy, even if the answers vary wildly. (30,384,210,458,326,824 was one estimate, give or take a few hundred trillion).
So I tried a variation on the theme: ‘how many crisps are there in a crisp packet’. The answers I found were equally vague, but at least some people had had a stab at it.
And there’s your challenge – can you come up with a question that Google (or rather the web) hasn’t thought of?
In case you’re thinking that this is an April Fool, it isn’t. But this is.