Inconsistent results

Here’s something I’ve never understood: running the same search query multiple times will produce different results. For example, if I search for applescript “display dialog” using the DT forum plugin, different runs give me 36, 37, and 38 results. I’ve had even more drastic differences when using the Web (fast) search set, where sometimes I’ll get 240 results followed by 320 results. What’s going on?

There are several possible reasons:

  1. Similar results are filtered
  2. Servers are temporarily not accessible
  3. Results returned by search engines are now different (and the results of search engines change rapidly these days)
  4. Timeouts

But do you have an example for me?

Sure I just ran the query applescript “display dialog” using the Discussion Lists->DEVONtech forum plugin. I did it 10 times and got the following # of results:
16, 36, 38, 39, 36, 36, 40, 40, 38, 35

I created a new search using the Web (fast) search set and searched for verizon iphone, with the following # of results:
48, 45, 43, 43, 47, 43, 45, 43, 43, 42

The forum doesn’t like too frequent requests and therefore the results might vary but…

…after disabling the filter for similar results, 67 results are always returned over here.