Respondents often post data pertaining to how often a particular word is "hit" when an internet search is done to find out how many times it has actually been used. I have two concerns about this: 1. I question the accuracy of the searches, since it seems to me that not all "hits" are valid (for various reasons, especially the search engine's misinterpretation of a partial word as the whole word); 2. The validation of the word as correct (or accurate or appropriate) may not be directly linked to, nor genuinely (and logically) well supported by, the number of times it can be found on the internet.

Does anyone share these concerns, or have any other concerns about these searches? How much trust should we put in them? How highly should we value them?

  • 2
    Google's hit statistics are completely unreliable and therefore worthless. Google does have real value, however: it provides actual uses in actual contexts, which may be critically examined and compared. Mar 7 '13 at 16:57
  • Okay, so I guess I got a downvote simply on the basis of this question having been already addressed. Would I get more downvotes if I asked, "All right, if we agree that these statistics are rife with errors, what do we do about the still-prevalent instances of reference to them in our pages?" And would I get a downvote if I asked, "Why is a duplicate question worth a downvote? Should it be? Why not notify the questioner that it's a duplicate and request it be removed or revised?" :) Mar 7 '13 at 23:35
  • 1
    Downvotes on meta indicate disagreement (rather than belief the question should not be here); they do not affect your reputation. Mar 8 '13 at 11:51
  • @TimLymington: To be fair, down votes frequently accompany dupes on the main site as well.
    – Robusto
    Mar 8 '13 at 18:18
  • @Robusto; Entirely agree. I do it myself sometimes, since failing to check for dupes is 'lack of research' which is explicitly a reason to downvote. But meta is not the same; OP's comment indicates a misapprehension. Mar 8 '13 at 18:24

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