Google Trends, Clickbaits, and PV Sindhu

TL;DR

  1. Am I saying India doesn't have a caste problem?

    No, it's definitely a HUGE problem!

  2. Are these articles on Google Trends and Sindhu's caste useful at all?

    Just more click-baits and no useful contribution to the discussion on caste.


First of all, congratulations to PV Sindhu on making it to the finals and giving the world number one a hard fight!

This post, though, is not a celebratory one. I read this article – While PV Sindhu fought hard for a medal, many Indians googled her caste – by the News Minute thanks to a re-tweet by TM Krishna. I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to it, if not for the retweet by TMK.

Caste is a huge problem for the country, and if you still like to pretend it isn't – read this for a start. I'm not surprised that some people searched for Sindhu's caste while she was battling it out at Rio. But, some people also searched for Badminton rules, and others for Sania Mirza! What surprises me is that the article doesn't try to put the data in a context at all. Nor do I understand the contribution this article makes to the discussion on caste.

28818616900_d8e2b33cb0_b.jpg

I played around a little more with these search terms and Google Trends, and here are a few things that I thought were worth sharing.

Indian trends

First of all, the article says "Many Indians", and gives off cumulative month-wise numbers (UPDATE [2016-08-21 Sun 12:15]: which are so wrong! See Sankrant Sanu's excellent article on India Facts). But, what does it really mean?

I don't know if anybody actually wrote about how many people actually followed the match, but Sindhu actually managed to get a whole lot of people interested!

29105184025_777ac4e5d0_b.jpg

More people searched for PV Sindhu than the daily average number of searches (not hits) for Facebook and very close to the daily number of searches for Porn – two of the biggest things Internet is allegedly used for. Can you see the red line at the bottom? That is the number of people who actually searched for Sindhu's caste – a tiny blip.

Let's take a closer look. Here's a plot of some of the other auto suggest terms + badminton rules & courts compared to Sindhu's name.

28818617070_9c9fdfeb12_b.jpg

Nothing other than badminton rules (which is at about 1% of max. searches) is even visible, clearly.

So, these other terms (wiki & caste being auto-suggested ones) are nowhere near the actual number of searches being made for PV Sindhu's name alone.

Let's get rid of the name graph to get a closer look at the other terms.

29105184165_133734e300_b.jpg

  • The maximum number of people searching for Sindhu's caste is at about a fifth of the maximum number of people searching for badminton rules. Interpreting it is upto you. But, I'm not surprised knowing how significant caste has been in our society. Also, notice that searches for wiki and caste fall off more gradually than the searches for the rules which peak while the game is being played and watched.
  • Unsurprisingly, a bulk of the searches appear to be coming from Andhra and Telangana. Notice that the other states are searching more for the rules or her wiki page.

29105184295_f3e1448d10_b.jpg

  • Do you notice that the red (caste), blue (wiki) and violet (images) lines following a similar trend, until the last few hours? What do you think is happening there? It's the shitty click baits working! Look at the trends from ~8:30AM to ~12:30AM below – the red has spread to other states as well!

29105184245_6e691d318d_b.jpg

  • And this is how it looks by the evening (17:00-21:00). Well done, folks! The click bait articles totally succeeded!

29032147971_c9c3c13fdc_b.jpg

If you are wondering how much effect the auto suggestions are having in suggesting people to try searching for caste, I don't think that is much because wiki and images are the other auto-suggest terms, with no such surges in the number of searches.

Trends from the Telugu states

We could see that the two Telugu states were more worried about the caste, than the rest of the country. Let's see how abnormal they are.

29105183935_5bc55c03b4_b.jpg

28483785994_89f1c999e4_b.jpg

You can definitely see the red line more prominently. In case of Andhra the peak searches for caste are at about 5% of the name searches. A statistically significant difference from the rest of the country.

Let's zoom in at the auto-suggest terms alone.

28818617430_bca8ed9d1a_b.jpg

29105184115_a0a8e34f4b_b.jpg

Woah, Andhra is definitely quite an aberration from the rest of the country. From about 1/5th of the maximum number of searches for rules, the maximum number of caste searches jumps to about twice. Telangana also is different, but much less so.

Tamil Nadu's trends below for comparison. You can't help noticing the last few hours, can you?

28818617290_eb4b3a2535_b.jpg

NOTE: The trends and screen-shots for the states are slightly more recent than the others.

Conclusion

Without a context, I don't really see the point of these "news" articles. It seems more click-bait-y than useful to me.

If you still feel many Indians were searching for Sindhu's caste, while she was fighting it out, go ahead and play with Google trends here. Add/remove terms, change the time and location filters. Some terms that could be interesting to add to the comparison are: Kashmir, Independence day, Facebook.

Later, I looked at the search results and then found that this article wasn't the only one like it. I didn't bother to read the others, but I really hope at least some of them are talking sense. Is any of them really trying to contribute to the discussion on caste, meaningfully?

Also, the actual search results don't seem to give useful answers to the folks so curious about Sindhu's caste. I hope none of these articles are trying to help them out.

Finally, if you are using Google Trends to write an article, Danny Page has some really good advice.


Thanks to Kamal, baali and 9 for reading and reviewing drafts of this. Errors mine, obviously.

Error: Missing one hebrew character

Dear owner-of-a-random-web-startup,

Thank you for starting your brand new, awesome web service. But, please don't expect me to use it, if you ask me to have a password with atleast one upper-case letter, one numeral, one symbol and one unicode hindi character and 20 hebrew characters. Is it really so essential to enforce such complicated rules on my passwords, making it difficult for me to remember what password I used? Isn't OAuth and OpenID so much easier to use? If you really want to enforce such complex rules on my password, at least show the arbitrary rules you enforce on me, at the login prompt too!

Sincerely, A frustrated-web-monkey

Monikers and the Internet

Like most bloggers, I keep looking at my blogs hits once in a while. (Sometimes inspires to write better; and more often.) The post that gets most hits these days is my post on mailman, postfix, et al. But the search term that's increasingly bringing people to my blog is "punchagan".

This scares me. What makes people search for me? What makes people search more often these days? Why am I scared?

Why do people use monikers or online identities? I started off with the idea of anonymity and privacy; keeping my online identify separate from my real one. But it, obviously, is a folly to have you email id with the same handle. Now, almost anybody who knows me, also knows my online handle. They can find me anywhere and everywhere with just a few keystrokes (and Google). Also, the uniqueness of my handle doesn't help one bit. Any search returns over 90% relevant results.

Is it time to get lost in the crowd with a new handle? ;) Probably not. I don't have much to hide under the covers. Let the world see – who I am, who I have been; where I am, where I have been.

Peace.

The 'Academic' Internet

Notice for the Internet Usage

Internet Facility is provided to students for academic activities and e-mails. It is observed that few students are misusing the Internet facility by using excessive internet bandwidth for non-academic purposes. The students who are running the hubs are strictly informed to close their hubs. Computer Center will be starting official hub for the sharing of academic information and open source softwares.

If a student is found while doing so the network facility will be blocked by Computer Center for a semester. Further, a student will be called by a disciplinary committee and a severe disciplinary action will be taken.

This Notice from the Computer Center is creating waves all around. This isn't the first time, though, that the people in-charge of the Network have "acted".

Academic activities; wonder what it's definition is, in their dictionaries. It surely includes the following.

  • Using Internet for 'academic activities' or emails, during class-room hours makes no sense.
  • Anything 'academic' cannot have a size greater than 5 MB.
  • Accessing version control systems ( svn, cvs et al ) cannot be classified 'academic'
  • IRC cannot teach you anything. Don't ever dream of thinking it as 'academic' to hang out on \\#python or \\#emacs
  • All 'academic' stuff is limited to the http(s) ports. You wouldn't need to use any other ports, ever.
  • Any 'academic' activity fits within a span of 2 hours or can be done in blocks of 2 hours each, with gaps of 2 hours in between.
  • 'Academic' stuff doesn't definitely contain key-words chosen by the "all-knowing" admins.

Moreover, the people in-charge who refused to allow the use of a computer in the CC as a server for on-campus repositories of GNU/Linux packages, now wish to host a 'hub' for sharing open-source softwares! There's already an official ftp server which hosts the academic info and a few useful softwares. I don't see how a hub would be different.

We don't have any disciplinary committees for people smoking in hostel rooms, causing a lot of trouble for others around them, but we are going to have them for hosting hubs. ( Well, a new law banning smoking in public places in India has been passed just a few days ago. Hopefully it'll work better than the older one, since now there's some pressure on the people in-charge of the public place. )

Also, it could be argued that college isn't meant only for 'academic' learning and a lots of other learning takes place here (and the hubs were definitely helping quite a bit) but I'll leave that for another day, probably. Also, I don't think 18+ year olds, people who are about to step into various big roles, leading the country need to be told how to make use of the facilities/resources available to them; A degree of freedom is indispensable, I believe.

I appreciate the efforts being made to improve the network situation here and also help the students get the most ( 'academically' ) out of their college experience, but I feel the situation deserves more careful handling.

Mid-Term 'Psycho'Analysis

Its been 10 days on my sabbatical. I have done reasonably well during the first week, but now its getting on my nerves. I have realized how addicted I am to chat, IRC and the Internet. I have to soon find some remedies for this.

Well, here is the first step. I approached ELIZA (or Doctor Fill, that's actually the emacs mode) , the Emacs Psychotherapist to help me. An enjoyable chat this one! ;)

ELIZA (Doctor Fill) abbreviated as DF (pun intended, for those who get it)

DF: I am the psychotherapist.  Please, describe your problems.  Each time
you are finished talking, type RET twice.

Hi. Nice meeting you.

DF: How do you do?  What brings you to see me?

<!--more-->I am obviously not fine, otherwise I would not have been here.
I have realized I am addicted to the internet and want you to help
me.

DF: Why do you say that?

I say that because you are a doctor.

DF: Is it because because I am a doctor that you came to me?

Isn't that pretty obvious?

DF: Can you elaborate on that?

Yes, I did come to see you because you are a doctor. Now, I regret it.

DF: Does it bother you that I am a doctor now you regret it?

I don't understand your question.

DF: Earlier you said because I am a doctor?

Yes, because you are a doctor I came to you.

DF: When did you first know that I am a doctor you came to me?

I knew about you, when I first fiddled around with Emacs around an
year ago.

DF: What happened when you first fiddled around with emacs around a year
ago?

I loved it, thoroughly! But for a beginner like me it was difficult to
get along. I stopped using it.

DF: Is the fact that for a beginner like you it was difficult to get along
you stopped using it the real reason?

I think that along with my laziness to stick with the learning was the
real reason

DF: Does the fact that along with your laziness to stick with the learning
was the real reason explain anything else?

It does not explain anything else to me.

DF: Maybe your plans have something to do with this.

What plans? I donot have any plans.

DF: What makes you believe what plans you donot have any plans?

If I had plans, I would have been executing them.

DF: You mentioned that I am a doctor now you regret it?

Yes, because you seemed stupid initially. Now you seem to be making
some sense.

DF: Are you sure I seemed stupid initially now I seem to be making some
sense?

Yes I am pretty sure.

DF: Is it because of your life that you are going through all this?

Obviously. Because I am alive I am going through all this.

DF: Is it because you are alive you are going through all this that you
came to me?

Yes.

DF: I see...  Well, are you sure that this is so?

Yes. I don't think there is emacs in the hell.

DF: I would appreciate it if you would watch your tongue!

Oh! so emacs is in the hell too! is it in the heavan too?

DF: Emacs?  Hah!  Perhaps you could continue.

I thought only mortals used Emacs. Do others use it too?

DF: Have you been positive?

Yes. I always thought Emacs is only for the homo sapiens.

DF: I believe you have inhibitions with emacs.

No. I love emacs.
But it isn't suitable for Gods and Demons

DF: Are you annoyed that it is not suitable for gods and demons?

No

DF: Why not?

I am neither of them. That's why

DF: Please, continue.

I am a human and I can use emacs. Others donot need it. I am not annoyed

DF: Have you been annoyed often?

Ocassionally

DF: Go on, don't be afraid.

I am not. I have been ocassionally annoyed, more often with myself
than others.

DF: What causes you to be annoyed?

Presently, I am annoyed with myself for being addicted to the Internet
and may be for chatting with you too.

DF: Do you really think you are annoyed?

Affirmative

DF: I need a little more detail please.

Yes. I am a little annoyed with myself.

DF: Are you annoyed often?

Ocassionally. Why do you repeat questions?

DF: When did you first know that do me repeat questions?

Long Long ago, when I first used Emacs.

DF: What makes you think long long ago when you first used emacs?

I saw you repeat questions.

DF: Is it because of the people you hang around with that you say you saw
me repeat questions?

Yes.

DF: Yes, hmmm... so, why do you say this is so?

I am leaving. You are being too repititive. Goodbye!

DF: What makes you believe because I am a doctor?

Goodbye!

DF: My secretary will send you a bill.

Bill? You did not help me much.

DF: How do you reconcile problems at school?

Goodbye!

DF: Bye bye.

Bye

DF: See ya.

See ya.

DF: Are you sure that see me?

Yes, when in trouble

DF: What would happen if in trouble?

I will see ya

DF: Earlier you said I am a doctor you came to me?

Yes, now also I say that.

DF: You're being a bit brief, would you please go into detail.

Goodbye!

DF: Ok, talk to you some other time.

bye!

DF: Talk to you later.

On a more serious note, the Internet has become an Integral part of my life. I do sometimes think, a bit too much, but then…. the internet is "The Internet"!