Google (and other sites) sucks for travelers

OK, if Google knows so much about me, why is it giving me all result pages in Spanish this morning and taking me to Google Mexico? After all, the cookie on my machine hasn’t been erased. They have all my history. Have I ever done a search in Spanish? No. Have I ever translated something from English to Spanish? No. Have I ever visited Google’s Mexico site at http://www.google.com.mx ? No.

So, why, when I want to go to google.com, does it redirect to google.com.mx and give me everything in Spanish?

Hey, Matt Cutts, can you tell the various teams around the world to PLEASE pry into my privacy details somehow and figure out that I speak English, that I want to go to the real Google site (search results are different on the Mexican site than on the English one)?

Oh, and Google isn’t alone. Yesterday I attended a workshop where they were using MySpace. It switched to Spanish too, even though the computers were all setup in America and had English operating systems loaded.

Same thing happened when we were in Germany and Switzerland too.

Comments

  1. Chris: I already did know this (I had written about this before — I’m playing a bit stupid above, but most users ARE stupid and Google is NOT giving them something they expect when they travel). But it still sucks. Location should be overridden by your search history. Google already tracks that (I turned on Google History and use it on all my browsers) and Google already has a Cookie down on my computer. So, when my browser gets to google.com.mx they should know it’s a previous Google user that’s visiting and should ask “do you want to see the English Google, or the Mexican one?”

  2. Chris: I already did know this (I had written about this before — I’m playing a bit stupid above, but most users ARE stupid and Google is NOT giving them something they expect when they travel). But it still sucks. Location should be overridden by your search history. Google already tracks that (I turned on Google History and use it on all my browsers) and Google already has a Cookie down on my computer. So, when my browser gets to google.com.mx they should know it’s a previous Google user that’s visiting and should ask “do you want to see the English Google, or the Mexican one?”

  3. [...] Source:Scobleizer OK, if Google knows so much about me, why is it giving me all result pages in Spanish this morning and taking me to Google Mexico? After all, the cookie on my machine hasn’t been erased. They have all my history. Have I ever done a search in Spanish? No. Have I ever translated something […] Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  4. “Location should be overridden by your search history”

    Actually, if anything, location would be overridden by your HTTP accept language in the HTTP header your browser sends to Google. The fact that it isn’t highlights Google’s awareness of the widespread Piracy problem with windows. With users getting non-localized copies of an operating system.

    What does this tell me about Robert Scoble though?

    Robert Scoble does not use a VPN on holiday and dangerously connects to the internet directly via hotel wifi or eth0 access. Bad bad bad.
    http://www.netgear.com/Products/VPNandSSL/WiredVPNFirewallRouters/FVL328.aspx

    I got this. If your budget doesn’t allow, you can set up secure squid on your ubuntu server.
    You can always claim that your important stuff is in HTTPS, but many, MANY log in screens are in plain old HTTP, and now all those Mexicans have your secret passwords. You can claim “My hotel doesn’t do dumps”, but hey, you’re in Mexico.

  5. “Location should be overridden by your search history”

    Actually, if anything, location would be overridden by your HTTP accept language in the HTTP header your browser sends to Google. The fact that it isn’t highlights Google’s awareness of the widespread Piracy problem with windows. With users getting non-localized copies of an operating system.

    What does this tell me about Robert Scoble though?

    Robert Scoble does not use a VPN on holiday and dangerously connects to the internet directly via hotel wifi or eth0 access. Bad bad bad.
    http://www.netgear.com/Products/VPNandSSL/WiredVPNFirewallRouters/FVL328.aspx

    I got this. If your budget doesn’t allow, you can set up secure squid on your ubuntu server.
    You can always claim that your important stuff is in HTTPS, but many, MANY log in screens are in plain old HTTP, and now all those Mexicans have your secret passwords. You can claim “My hotel doesn’t do dumps”, but hey, you’re in Mexico.

  6. Robert, you should definitely learned to read german google results ;) SCNR

    But apart from that you’re right and we really have to wonder about this behaviour especially from google.

  7. Robert, you should definitely learned to read german google results ;) SCNR

    But apart from that you’re right and we really have to wonder about this behaviour especially from google.

  8. I’m glad you bring this up. It is just very hard to whip some sense into these Google-systems. By now they seem to understand that I prefer to be addressed in English, Dutch or German in stead of Chinese (I’m living in China). But they keep on trying. Minor nuisance: they keep on filtering the pictures I want to see. They regularly change my settings without asking me. I cannot live without them, but otherwise…

  9. I’m glad you bring this up. It is just very hard to whip some sense into these Google-systems. By now they seem to understand that I prefer to be addressed in English, Dutch or German in stead of Chinese (I’m living in China). But they keep on trying. Minor nuisance: they keep on filtering the pictures I want to see. They regularly change my settings without asking me. I cannot live without them, but otherwise…

  10. Greg: that’s a good answer geek to geek, but now what about the rest of the people who are frustrated at this behavior? And, because everything is in Spanish it’s really hard to figure out what to do. I figured it out, but then I’m fairly astute at using computers.

    I watched the behavior of people in the class yesterday. Most just gave up.

  11. Greg: that’s a good answer geek to geek, but now what about the rest of the people who are frustrated at this behavior? And, because everything is in Spanish it’s really hard to figure out what to do. I figured it out, but then I’m fairly astute at using computers.

    I watched the behavior of people in the class yesterday. Most just gave up.

  12. “Robert Scoble does not use a VPN on holiday”

    neither do I. I’m not willing to take the perf hit from the VPN overhead. I travel with a small router, and hope in between filtering off unsolicited packets and my software firewall, that i’m safe enough. I also do don’t silly stuff like online banking, etc from Mexico.

    If the answer is to just VPN from everywhere, it leaves the average user out to dry (same holds true for traveling with a router); I’m guessing grandma doesn’t have a ubuntu server…..

  13. “Robert Scoble does not use a VPN on holiday”

    neither do I. I’m not willing to take the perf hit from the VPN overhead. I travel with a small router, and hope in between filtering off unsolicited packets and my software firewall, that i’m safe enough. I also do don’t silly stuff like online banking, etc from Mexico.

    If the answer is to just VPN from everywhere, it leaves the average user out to dry (same holds true for traveling with a router); I’m guessing grandma doesn’t have a ubuntu server…..

  14. I hate that to. I’m from Argentina, I live in México, and there’s no problem if you type .ar, or .mx (being in the other location), but the only way I can access the international (or American) Google (…com/) site is by going to my IG and making an effort to not let them personalize my Google as a Spanish speaking person. If I ever type …com.mx/ig i’m lost.

    MySpace is a lost case, but I don’t care much.

  15. Point taken, but I have nothing to offer except another geek-to-geek answer:

    http://www.google.com/ncr

    The “ncr” in the URL stands for “no country redirect.”

    In fact, if you do a Google search for [google.com/ncr], you’ll find a bunch of blog entries from people who have gone through the same thing you have. Chris at Port80 software wrote about this in 2004, and he mentioned that a “Google.com in English” link appears on the non-English pages. Did that not happen for you?

  16. I hate that to. I’m from Argentina, I live in México, and there’s no problem if you type .ar, or .mx (being in the other location), but the only way I can access the international (or American) Google (…com/) site is by going to my IG and making an effort to not let them personalize my Google as a Spanish speaking person. If I ever type …com.mx/ig i’m lost.

    MySpace is a lost case, but I don’t care much.

  17. Point taken, but I have nothing to offer except another geek-to-geek answer:

    http://www.google.com/ncr

    The “ncr” in the URL stands for “no country redirect.”

    In fact, if you do a Google search for [google.com/ncr], you’ll find a bunch of blog entries from people who have gone through the same thing you have. Chris at Port80 software wrote about this in 2004, and he mentioned that a “Google.com in English” link appears on the non-English pages. Did that not happen for you?

  18. I found this annoying as well – I was trying to demonstrate how easy my dad’s life would be if he switched from hotmail to using gmail and associated apps. Needless to say my dad is still using hotmail.

  19. I agree that it’s silly they do this. I’ve been using Google Suggest the past year or so and I find it to be a much stronger solution than regular, old, re-direct ya to spanish Google.

  20. I agree that it’s silly they do this. I’ve been using Google Suggest the past year or so and I find it to be a much stronger solution than regular, old, re-direct ya to spanish Google.

  21. I found this annoying as well – I was trying to demonstrate how easy my dad’s life would be if he switched from hotmail to using gmail and associated apps. Needless to say my dad is still using hotmail.

  22. You’re in CABO for God’s sake!! What the HELL are you doing surfing the internet? You should surfing the ocean! :-)

  23. You’re in CABO for God’s sake!! What the HELL are you doing surfing the internet? You should surfing the ocean! :-)

  24. Robert, I have to agree with LayZ above… get off the grid when you’re in Cabo. You even said you’d do so in your post just before you left. You’ll live and your readers will still love you when you return.

    But on topic:
    I SECOND THAT! Listen up GOOGLE!!! When I was skiing in Whistler (yep, got on the grid), I kept getting Canadian Google, which sucked. It’s simple, just provide a country and language preference in my google profile.

  25. Robert, I have to agree with LayZ above… get off the grid when you’re in Cabo. You even said you’d do so in your post just before you left. You’ll live and your readers will still love you when you return.

    But on topic:
    I SECOND THAT! Listen up GOOGLE!!! When I was skiing in Whistler (yep, got on the grid), I kept getting Canadian Google, which sucked. It’s simple, just provide a country and language preference in my google profile.

  26. You pointed out the sites that disappointed you. Were there any sites which did what you expected?

  27. You pointed out the sites that disappointed you. Were there any sites which did what you expected?

  28. I remember a Google guy being very proud of this when I was asked if I knew how Google picks which language to display for the search page. I had some personal experience with this useless technical solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Although I think I mentioned this isn’t always the best user experience, I guess I was too polite to say that this has irritated me immensely when traveling to Asia. I’d much rather the service respect my language preferences… as long as a user’s Windows (or MacOS) language settings are right, the browser default “accept-language” headers should work for almost everyone, and that’s more than you can say for the Google solution.

    The only time the Google approach helps is for disambiguating which market to use (English-Canada vs. English-US, for example). And in that case, it should just be a secondary factor.

  29. I remember a Google guy being very proud of this when I was asked if I knew how Google picks which language to display for the search page. I had some personal experience with this useless technical solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Although I think I mentioned this isn’t always the best user experience, I guess I was too polite to say that this has irritated me immensely when traveling to Asia. I’d much rather the service respect my language preferences… as long as a user’s Windows (or MacOS) language settings are right, the browser default “accept-language” headers should work for almost everyone, and that’s more than you can say for the Google solution.

    The only time the Google approach helps is for disambiguating which market to use (English-Canada vs. English-US, for example). And in that case, it should just be a secondary factor.

  30. Are you in Mexico? If so, go to the bottom of google.com and look for the “Google.com in English” link. Clicking that will remember that you want Google in English, not one of those other languages. :)

  31. Are you in Mexico? If so, go to the bottom of google.com and look for the “Google.com in English” link. Clicking that will remember that you want Google in English, not one of those other languages. :)

  32. Hi, Matt Cutts – but what to do when you try to comment on someones blogspot, being let’s say in Mexico and the whole standard blogger 2.0 comment page is, oops, in spanish. Where is the link now? It took me 30 minutes, I’m not stupid, I almost give up.

  33. Hi, Matt Cutts – but what to do when you try to comment on someones blogspot, being let’s say in Mexico and the whole standard blogger 2.0 comment page is, oops, in spanish. Where is the link now? It took me 30 minutes, I’m not stupid, I almost give up.

  34. Arg. Google Reader seems to have lost all my subscriptions. I hope this is just a temporary glitch. If not, it’s going to be really painful to recreate them.

    This might prompt me to switch to an offline one, where at least I can backup settings and such.

  35. Arg. Google Reader seems to have lost all my subscriptions. I hope this is just a temporary glitch. If not, it’s going to be really painful to recreate them.

    This might prompt me to switch to an offline one, where at least I can backup settings and such.

  36. Wait until you see Google in Thai! I’m in Bangkok and it defaults to Thai. Worst, either the ISP in the hotel or somebody blogs YouTube altogether. And the entire country seems to be on dialup. So I can’t post to Google Video either.

  37. Wait until you see Google in Thai! I’m in Bangkok and it defaults to Thai. Worst, either the ISP in the hotel or somebody blogs YouTube altogether. And the entire country seems to be on dialup. So I can’t post to Google Video either.

  38. I have a similar problem. I prefer to use Google menus and commands in English (rather than in Swedish) as this gives me more options; but this has the unfortunate effect that when I search for Swedish companies in Google News I get a ton of English-language links on top. (I really didn’t even see the problem until I opened Google News in an IE tab in Firefox and ran the same searches, with entirely different results.)

  39. I have a similar problem. I prefer to use Google menus and commands in English (rather than in Swedish) as this gives me more options; but this has the unfortunate effect that when I search for Swedish companies in Google News I get a ton of English-language links on top. (I really didn’t even see the problem until I opened Google News in an IE tab in Firefox and ran the same searches, with entirely different results.)

  40. Well, I live in France but I like to have all my content in English, the fisrt thing I do after installing FireFOx in any COmputer is changing my setting to English (and no EN-US) everything works fine after that. Also you may try to keep you logged in with you Google Account (that helps a bunch) and change your setting in the setting of Google.

    DO all this just once and you’re free to enjoy all Google’s Content in any languange you fancy.

  41. Well, I live in France but I like to have all my content in English, the fisrt thing I do after installing FireFOx in any COmputer is changing my setting to English (and no EN-US) everything works fine after that. Also you may try to keep you logged in with you Google Account (that helps a bunch) and change your setting in the setting of Google.

    DO all this just once and you’re free to enjoy all Google’s Content in any languange you fancy.

  42. I’m in the same country Steph is, but in a part that speaks German, not French or Italian. Google decides that I want German pages. Oh, not just on google.com, but on a number of other services. I’m using blogger, every time I visit, I get German until I log in. I’ve set my preferences to give me English, but I still get German until I log in. I’m not going to blogger.ch, or blogger.de, but blogger.com

    And the ads. I often see ads for GREEN CARDS! I’m American, I don’t need a green card. While I can read and speak German, I’m not likely going to click on a German language ad. Then again, I’m not going to click on an English ad either.

    I have set my browser for language preferences, but google doesn’t pay any attention to these either.

    Google _GETS_ a lot of things, but they need to be severely pounded over the head with a clue stick on dealing with multiple languages.

  43. I’m in the same country Steph is, but in a part that speaks German, not French or Italian. Google decides that I want German pages. Oh, not just on google.com, but on a number of other services. I’m using blogger, every time I visit, I get German until I log in. I’ve set my preferences to give me English, but I still get German until I log in. I’m not going to blogger.ch, or blogger.de, but blogger.com

    And the ads. I often see ads for GREEN CARDS! I’m American, I don’t need a green card. While I can read and speak German, I’m not likely going to click on a German language ad. Then again, I’m not going to click on an English ad either.

    I have set my browser for language preferences, but google doesn’t pay any attention to these either.

    Google _GETS_ a lot of things, but they need to be severely pounded over the head with a clue stick on dealing with multiple languages.

  44. LOL I am laughing my head off here. Just at SDExpo there was the user interface “GURU” who applauded Google for coming up with such a brilliant user interface. I am not kidding!

    Personally I always thought it was garbage because if you don’t switch languages and do a search for say “Microsoft Windows.” You will get all of the results for that language. DUMB DIMB…

  45. LOL I am laughing my head off here. Just at SDExpo there was the user interface “GURU” who applauded Google for coming up with such a brilliant user interface. I am not kidding!

    Personally I always thought it was garbage because if you don’t switch languages and do a search for say “Microsoft Windows.” You will get all of the results for that language. DUMB DIMB…

  46. Yeah, it is even more fun in Asia. What annoys me more than just the cookie issue is that I’m often logged in, and it is showing my gmail address at the top of the page to prove it knows who I am, but still it feels I need the entire experience in Japanese or Korean because I happen to be in a hotel there! Perhaps it is an attempt to get us all speaking foreign languages :-)

  47. Yeah, it is even more fun in Asia. What annoys me more than just the cookie issue is that I’m often logged in, and it is showing my gmail address at the top of the page to prove it knows who I am, but still it feels I need the entire experience in Japanese or Korean because I happen to be in a hotel there! Perhaps it is an attempt to get us all speaking foreign languages :-)

  48. how about this one, i’m from america, and never left america with my lap top, but i am a CDL truck driver, and i just got back from laredo, and when i was in laredo TX i visited google, and it sent me to the http:www.google.com.mx, i thought ok, well the router for the company i work for must be useing a mexico IP, no big deal, but now i’m in Dallas TX and google is still comeing up to the spanis version.

  49. how about this one, i’m from america, and never left america with my lap top, but i am a CDL truck driver, and i just got back from laredo, and when i was in laredo TX i visited google, and it sent me to the http:\www.google.com.mx, i thought ok, well the router for the company i work for must be useing a mexico IP, no big deal, but now i’m in Dallas TX and google is still comeing up to the spanis version.