Google’s Cursor Jump Magic Search Bug


For those of you who don’t use Google Instant (if you type a search in Google and the results start showing as you type, you are using Google Instant), you might have started noticing a weird bug while searching: the cursor jumping out of the middle of a search query that you’ll narrow down after performing an initial search. I first noticed this was happening to me about a week and a half ago. I initially thought this was a weird Firefox bug that was occurring due to the number of tabs I had opened – a scenario that usually generates buggy behavior for me. But then I tried to search google in another browser (IE). Then another (Opera). Then another (Chrome). As a result of these I tried searching on another computer which produced the same results. Then I gave my roommate a try and he was able to reproduce it. Finally, I asked a number of friends to try it out, and although their results were varied, most were able to replicate the behavior. While heading to Google to search for other people having the problem, I encountered the following discussion thread on the Google web search help forum. Here it is: confirmation. The commentator “rhyno40” sums up the bug behavior quite well:

For example, if I were to type in “animals”, then click search, then decide that “animals” is too wide, then I would try to search for “circus animals”, it would show up as “canimalsircus”. The cursor jumps to the end of the search after entering the first letter. It’s really annoying.

Having said that, I created a video of the behavior. At first, I’m looking for “Stephen from ZDNet here”. Afterwords, I successfully add “This is” to the start of the search query and search again. But then I try to add “This is” to various places in the search query and search a few more times. As you will see, the cursor makes me very happy:

Kelly, Google Search Community Manager, commented in Google Web Search on 02/09/11, thus confirming Google’s knowledge of the bug:

Hi everyone! Thanks for joining this thread. We are looking for what could be causing this. Stay tuned! -Kelly

If you are also having this problem, the current workaround seems to enable Google Instant. Personally, I don’t support Google Instant, and to this day, people make the decision to withdraw also for various reasons. That said, if you want to turn Google Instant on / off, here’s how:

1 – In the upper right corner of Google’s search page, find a picture of a gear, click on it, then click on “Search settings.” It looks like this:

2 – When the preferences page loads, scroll down to where you see “Google Instant” and then click the radio button next to “Don’t use Google Instant” if you wish. deactivate Google Instant (which will let you see if you can reproduce the bug). Conversely, if you are looking to to allow Google Instant, click the radio button next to “Use Google Instant – predictions and results appear as you type” (which will get rid of the buggy behavior). Whichever you choose, be sure to click the “Save Preferences” button in the lower right corner. This should allow you to try and reproduce the behavior or get rid of it for now. Hopefully Google will fix this bug in the near future. As a “search ninja” I hate Google Instant, so I would rather deal with the bug than use it. Likewise, with the nature that I am furiously searching on Google and refining my search queries, this is perhaps the most annoying bug I have ever had to deal with with Google. I find it strange that this bug is so persistent. This is the sort of thing I would expect Google to take care of in a few days; not a few weeks.

And you? Have you encountered this problem or are you able to reproduce it? Let us know in the comments below!

Stephen chapman

SEO whistleblower

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