Trevor Cummings

Buying The Gnome

Hey SlideBelts,

I'm going to open up a little bit and get personal for a minute. My friends and online peers know a little factoid about me that I have never shared at work. Namely, that I have a deep seething loathing for Gnomes. I have felt this way since I was a young lad and the years have only served to validate my disdain for such silly fictional creatures. I could blame it on the fact that Garden Gnomes are just down-right creepy. Perhaps it's because Gnomes were included as a playable race on World of Warcraft but weren't even in any of the original Warcraft games. Or maybe I dislike Gnomes for the same reason I enjoy Miley Cyrus .... 'Cause it's fun and something to do with my time. In any case, it could be said that I keenly enjoy disliking Gnomes. 

The other day, I was quickly scrolling through when my eyes scanned that terrible G word - Gnome. I also noticed another G word included in the article that I usually associate with happiness and good feelings! GOOGLE. What could these two vastly different entities possibly have to do with one another? I decided it was worth a read. The article was short and explained a specific technique that Google employs called "Buying The Gnome". I will quote the Quora author since his explanation of "Buying The Gnome" is short and to the point.

"Once upon a time a Froogle search for "running shoes" returned as a top result a statue of a garden gnome wearing running shoes. Despite great effort, none of the attempted code fixes could remove the gnome from the top results. Someone noticed that the gnome was a single item for sale on eBay. The Froogle team bought the gnome, the eBay post was removed, and the search results became correct. Henceforth fixing a bug by changing reality became known as "buying the gnome". This is a great example of solving a hard problem in an easy but unexpected way." - David Seidman.

I thought this story was pretty cool! There are plenty of examples within our work and home life where thinking AROUND the problem instead of THROUGH it is the best way forward. Instead of having a disgusting, horrifying, GNOME stuck on the top of your search results ... you could just buy that sucker and strap a firecracker to it. At least, I like to think that's what Google actually did .... =P



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