Google Weblog

June 12, 2003: Problem Speculation

Some have noticed that things at Google are a little wonky lately. New pages haven't been added to the main index in months, the entire update for April has been thrown out, Google has deployed some new algorithms, and backlink data is weird and out-of-date. Why?

GoogleWatch has an interesting theory: When programming Google, they used standard 32-bit integers to identify pages. 32-bit integers allow you to count up to 4.2 billion, and Google is pretty close to that many pages. It's going to be tricky to upgrade all 15,000 machines to use a larger size integer at once, so maybe this is the reason Google has been having problems lately.

GoogleGuy (a Google representative) denies this, but it seems pretty clear that Google is doing some sort of upgrade or system change. Unfortunately, Google isn't telling us what it is, and GoogleGuy is only speaking in vague, cryptic terms, so we're left to speculate.

Why all the secrecy, Google? Wouldn't coming out and saying just what happened (and apologizing if something went wrong) be better than letting all these allegations swirl? Everyone makes mistakes; we can't fault Google for making one. We can, however, fault them for trying to cover it up.

Posted by Aaron Swartz on June 12, 2003 11:07 AM