Baidu vs. Google: in search of accessible, useful results


Baidu results

Google results

Maomy, who runs the blog Oh My Media, posted screenshots of two sets of search results, from Baidu and Google, along with the following blog post:

The Tragedy of Temperature*

by maomy / Oh My Media

On Friday my desktop inexplicably shut down on its own again. According to my experience, I guessed that it probably was due to the CPU temperature being too high. So I opened up the machine to clean the dust out the CPU and system fans, and then ran it stripped.

Because the CPU temperature could only be seen by pressing DEL after startup to enter system settings, I wanted to take a look to see if there was any software that could show you the CPU temperature in Win7. So I Googled it.

“CPU 温度 软件” [CPU temperature software] — returned that familiar blank page.

F (beep) U, GFW! F (beep) U, (beep) department!

Ever since Google left China, “carrot”, “temperature”, and “study” have been sensitive terms that you can’t search for.* I tested this at the time, and I figured that it would be looked back on as a joke. But to have the firewall suddenly there in front of me, I saw stars. It’s been more than a month, and the Chinese people still have no way to cook carrots, check the temperature, or study Lei Feng.

Why not use Baidu?

I used it. The results of “CPU 温度 软件” were as follows:

The first page had a total of twelve results, of which the first and twelfth were “promotional links,” i.e. advertisements paid for by commercial sponsors. Numbers 2, 4, 6, 9, and 11 were all “Baidu Knows,” and were pages dating from 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2007. The rest pointed to pages bearing date stamps of 2006, 2008, 2006, 2003, and 2002, respectively.

To sum up: on the first page of results for this search, excluding paid ads, 50% came from Baidu Knows, and 100% were at least two years old. Only two pages provided a direct download link. One was to ZOL, which offered a version of the software from 2006. The other was to a download site I had never heard of, with a PageRank of 3 and a favicon that looked like a pirated version of Foobar2000. It was a little dodgy, so I didn’t risk downloading it.

Baidu, how can I trust you?

Then I crossed the Firewall to use Google, and the search results were quite a bit better. But I still felt a little angry.

Then I went to sleep, and after I woke up my mood had stabilized, and it hadn’t affected my life much.

Then I heard that Google had launched an SSL search service, so I hurried to check out the fabulous Brilliant, as expected. A search on the same “CPU 温度 软件” keywords returned the result in the image, far better than Baidu’s results, right?

This is a small step for Google, but it is not a step for the Chinese Internet and Chinese netizens. We’ve only been given relief. We are enclosed in walls, beaten down, and the air is thin, but we still have hope, we strive to learn and innovate, for the sake of a better life and more dignity.


  1. 温度的杯具: The title makes use of the pun that swaps “cups” for “tragedy”.
  2. The first character of “carrot” (胡萝卜) is the surname of President Hu Jintao; the first character of “temperature” (温度) is the surname of Premier Wen Jiabao; the second character of “study” (学习) is the surname of Politburo member Xi Jinping.
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