Similar to the way in which pencils come with erasers, modern homes come with smoke detectors, and cars come with airbags, Google may soon prepare something interesting for when searches go wrong. The search giant’s trying to detect when searchers become frustrated, anyway.
In fact, "trying" might be too weak a word. In a post on the Google Research Blog, three members of the User Experience Team explained that they’ve discovered five indicators that signal when searchers are experiencing difficulties.
According to Anne Aula, Rehan Khan, and Zhiwei Guan, "Those signals were: use of question queries, use of advanced operators, spending more time on the search results page, formulating the longest query in the middle of the session, and spending a larger proportion of the time on the search results page."
And now, the goal is to let computers "detect frustration in real time."
So at some point, it’s possible that searchers who use question marks and take a lot of time between lengthy queries will be shown a picture of a puppy (or maybe something a bit more practical) in addition to their search results.
This is almost sure to bolster Google’s reputation for being cool and fun. Another important effect: any sort of Easter egg or help button might also prevent searchers from switching to Yahoo or Bing.