Okay, not so much the company, but their search Terms of Service.

Okay, I didn’t so much violate their Terms of Service as their automated bots thought I did.

Actually the irony was that their automated bots thought I was an automated bot.

I suppose, the real irony is that this situation was inspired by today’s web comic on XKCD and as a result deserves to become a daily comic on XKCD.

I am without a doubt a statistics freak. I love crunching numbers. I love using Excel. (I think this is why the MacBU was scared of me)

My most recent uses of Excel have been:

So back to today’s XKCD. It was a statistician’s dream. All those wonderful google statistics. Of course I found myself wondering, “What about age?” I also found myself wondering about the extreme ends that were edited out from the illustrations. So I tried a few of the samples. The numbers are pretty much accurate. So I figured… “My turn!!!!!”

I opened up my browser and typed in, “I am 3 years old.” I got a surprisingly high response. Of course then I realised that this was likely the doing of parents who were enthusiastically writing about their toddlers. “I am 2 years old.” Similar response. I did 4, then 5. Then I realised. I should write these down. I opened up Simple Text. (That’s better than notepad for the Mac Impaired). I did about 15 more. Then I realised I should be doing this in Excel. So, I back paged on my browser to keep the pages in order. Then I front paged again recording the data. About 5 later I got a Google “Sorry” page.

I’d never seen this beast before. The help page told me that Google perceived me to be an automated bot which is not permitted by the terms of service. This page also directed me to a form where I could type in my name, email, and IP. No place for an explanation. Well, carp (sic) my IP had been blocked from making Google searches. Oddly after I reported the form my search came back in about 30 seconds. Ah… no harm no foul. So I went back to work. Hey… XKCD could do it, why not me. I got up to 97 and it happened again. Went back to the form. Nothing. Now there was no google. My entire home network goes through this IP. (Not my served domains, just the end users in the house).

Turns out, Google really isn’t to responsive to these problems. The user is left to their own devices. Their own devices being defined as asking their ISP to change their IP. Granted, discovering this was not easy as I no longer had “Google” to use as a tool. It would seem that Yahoo still has its uses. Well, after a good half hour of reading vitriolic “Google Hate” boards the answer revealed itself to me. It turns out that Google simply (redacted) vicious (redacted) and all you have to do is (redacted)¬†assuming you can figure out which (redacted)¬†and then everything is fine again.

But in the mean time… I now know what age people say they are on the interwebz.

This chart fascinates me for several reasons. First off, it seems that people are most eager to express their age at 7. Of course there is some drift when you consider that there are song titles and lyrics that include the line, “I am (x) years old.”

What’s really nifty is that people tend to go on 3-4 year cycles of talking about it and NOT talking about it. Er. Writing about it. 43 is such a peak between 40 and 47.

Looking at the posts it’s also amusing to see what people are saying with their statements of age. Kids are talking about pride. Teens have problems. Young adults are talking about things they do. 30s-50s are talking about work. 60’s-80’s are talking about medical procedures and health. And Ironically past 80’s it’s all about the pride of still being able to post on the net.

Looking at these little cycles I decided to cluster ages by 3 and 4. So in one chart I’ve done: 1-3, 4-6, 5-9, etc. In the next I’ve done: 1-4, 5-8, 9-12. If I cared I’d be really tempted to graph astrological returns onto this.

Hits on google for "I am (x) years old" grouped by 3.

Hits on google for "I am (x) years old" grouped by 4.

The good news is that since then, my Google search has been restored. And I am free to hunt after free roaming data again.