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55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. Go to Table of Contents. Visit Gifcom.

The PageRank 100 Incident

It was an incident, Google later said – a mere wrong “0” deeply hidden in the code of the ranking algorithm, triggered at completely improbable circumstances, a bug so exotic and rare one could say it practically didn’t even exist. But of course, it existed. And one person’s life in specific would be changed by this little bug. This person was a 20-something with a keen interest in the web by the name of Josh.

When Josh woke up this fateful morning to update his blog (he wanted to talk about the nightmarish colors he experienced, something not too unusual for Friday nights, after all there were a lot of nightmarish things going on in the world)... he already felt something changed. There were 320 comments to his last entry, which was innocently titled “Meeting Joann For Dinner.” 320 comments were about 320 more than Josh usually got. His blog was up and running for just well over a year, and even he didn’t feel it was especially exciting (mirroring his life, like personal blogs do).

Hundreds of comments on a single entry? And these were real comments, practically spam-free, taking apart his grammar, commenting on the food of the pub he mentioned, freely chatting away and just saying Hi. So really, what went wrong? Was there one of the big sites linking to him? With this amount of visitors, and there surely must have been millions this morning, he wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon or Apple used their start page to roll the drums for him.

Josh checked his mailbox, but it was crammed. Completely flooded with hundreds of emails, some of them…wait, this was weird. Some of the emails talked about “PageRank” in the subject line. Josh knew well his little blog, thanks to some avid backlinking he did from other sites he maintained, had been assigned a Google PageRank of 3. “Not too bad” in the eyes of Google’s measuring algorithm, but nothing that would ever rank him especially high. So Josh opened up one of those emails, and then he had this awkward head rush which made him jump to the kitchen for cigarette and coffee.

PageRank 100. Apparently, his little blog achieved a PageRank of 100. And after a coffee, Josh realized what this must mean. He called up one of his friends, a search engine aficionado who took computer class. Frank arrived quickly, because he too never saw anything like this, and equally quickly Frank checked the rankings for some words Josh wrote in his blog. He mentioned “dinner,” and boom, his site popped