We regret to announce that our Google scraper may have to be permanently retired, thanks to a change at Google. It depends on whether Google is willing to restore the simple interface that we’ve been scraping since Scroogle started five years ago. Actually, we’ve been using that interface for scraping since Google-Watch.org began in 2002.
This interface (here’s a sample from years ago) was remarkably stable all that time. During those eight years there were only about five changes that required some programming adjustments. Also, this interface was available at every Google data center in exactly the same form, which allowed us to use 700 IP addresses for Google.
That interface was at http://www.google.com/ie but on May 10, 2010 they took it down and inserted a redirect to /toolbar/ie8/sidebar.html. It used to have a search box, and the results it showed were generic during that entire time. It didn’t show the snippets unless you moused-over the links it produced (they were there for our program, so that was okay), and it has never had any ads. Our impression was that these results were from Google’s basic algorithms, and that extra features and ads were added on top of these generic results. Three years ago Google launched “Universal Search,” which meant that they added results from other Google services on their pages. But this simple interface we were using was not affected at all.
Now that interface is gone. It is not possible to continue Scroogle unless we have a simple interface that is stable. Google’s main consumer-oriented interface that they want everyone to use is too complex, and changes too frequently, to make our scraping operation possible.
Over the next few days we will attempt to contact Google and determine whether the old interface is gone as a matter of policy at Google, or if they simply have it hidden somewhere and will tell us where it is so that we can continue to use it.
Thank you for your support during these past five years. Check back in a week or so; if we don’t hear from Google by next week, I think we can all assume that Google would rather have no Scroogle, and no privacy for searchers, at all.
– Daniel Brandt, Public Information Research, scroogle AT lavabit.com
I’d always wondered why Google tolerated the Scroogle Scraper, allowing an organisation that is unabashed about describing you as -maybe not exactly evil, but certainly dodgy- to piggyback on your technology always seemed a bit unlikely. I was happy to use it while it lasted though.
So I suppose it’s back to using Clusty, unless anybody has any other suggestions?