Google guesses what's on your mind

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 05:00 09/02/2014

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Is Hamilton really a "ghetto"? Does Tauranga have a problem with its power supply? And what happened to the KFC in Whanganui?

National preoccupations are hard to gauge but Google gives an unbiased insight into what the majority of people want to know about a place.

Type "Why is Auckland so . . ." into your search bar and Google's auto-complete function displays the most popular search suggestions: why is Auckland so humid, expensive or boring? Why is Auckland traffic so bad?

People want to know why Wellington is so windy, boring and cold (there's a lot of people inquiring about the boringness of places on Google).

"Cheap, boring, ghetto and sketchy" is probably not going to be Hamilton Tourism's next campaign slogan, though to be fair, it could be Hamilton in Ontario, Canada, affecting the results.

A lot of places in New Zealand don't have the search volume to generate suggestions and for some unlucky towns they share a name with a more famous version overseas (Blenheim gets confused with Blenheim Palace, a giant, Downton Abbey-style countryhouse in England) but it's still hard to explain why folk of Wanganui want to know "Why is KFC in Wanganui closed?"

A spokeswoman for Google said the auto-complete search terms are based on a number factors including the popularity of search terms and what's already on the web.

People also searched why the North Island "is better than the South Island" and why the South Island "is called the Mainland".

Google is also good for settling trans-Tasman scores. While people want to know why Australia is so "hot/flat/dry", we get "Why is New Zealand so good at sport?"

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- Sunday Star Times

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