What’s in a date?

Sometimes search results are like bread buns – they’d better be fresh. Or, as we are in Paris, like French baguette: it should be baked just before you enter the bakery.

One feature I always liked about YouTube is that you can sort your search results by date. This way you can easily see what sort of totally useless stuff has been dumped recently about a particular subject. This useful feature has known some metamorphosis in the past year. First, it was inside a drop-down menu, which I didn’t like but couldn’t get around. Then, for just a short period, it had disappeared somewhere, to quickly come back on the highest level, as a simple link, right next to ‘Relevance’.I don’t know how they do design at YouTube, but here is an example of a design team who somehow listened to the users and deduced a choice list (drop-down) to two basic items: relevance and date. Probably this is what people use most. And they offered it in a more direct way because nobody likes drop-down menus.

The ‘sort by date’ link is something I still want in Google. How often do I search and then jump into the first three-four results, only to discover later that the answer to my question was from 1999. Of course, for some questions this doesn’t matter. But for most questions the age of the information is very relevant.

To bypass this problem on Google and get, so to say, the freshest baguette, you need to go into Advanced Search and that is where strange things start happening. In the google.com Advanced Search the field ‘date’ is hidden behind ‘Date, usage rights, numeric range, and more’ group, which you have to expand to use it. On google.fr, however, the date field is the 5th in the form, directly at hand.

Do French people search more often by date? Were they complaining to Google about this? Was the English population of the planet willing to content itself with yesterday’s baguette?

Why have this difference? Google knows.

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