Google’s once again turning users away at the door. The current wave began in mid-November.
Googaholics reported sporadic error messages when running search queries. And they were pretty ominous:
… but we can’t process your request right now. A computer virus or spyware application is sending us automated requests, and it appears that your computer or network has been infected.
We’ll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your computer is free of viruses and other spurious software.
We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we’ll see you again on Google.
Rattled users wasted precious time confirming the state of their antivirus and antispyware solutions. Too often users found they were completely up to date, so no changes were made.
To add to the confusion…
Befuddled Googlers were able to continue all other interactions with the service… so long as they avoided using the accursed “allinurl:” command when searching. (fyi: When you include “allinurl:” followed by your domain name, Google shows you all the pages that refer to your site’s URL.)
Google apparently deemed infestees miraculously cured. It often resumed processing the “allinurl:” command the very next day, without comment.
While the Oracles of the Goog revel in their sphinx-like opacity, the web world runs wild with speculation. Here’s how we see it:
- Search engine optimizing services (SEOs) run non-stop automated queries to check clients’ Google listings, and;
- Larger SEOs run multiple “allinurl:” checks from numerous computers using a variety of IP addresses, and;
- The constant querying depletes an enormous amount of non-adwordsable bandwidth and processing resources, so;
- When a given IP address range generates too many “allinurl:” queries, Google simply shuts off the whole IP block.
Smells like old fashioned blacklisting to us, with a nasty red herring tossed in for good measure.
Does the firm that sports the slogan “Do no evil” care if it sends millions of innocent users into a panic over non-existent viruses? We don’t know. You’ll have to ask them… if you can.
But the Google geeks will probably just feed you a Spock-line, “It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
In this case, the “many” is Google’s servers. The “few” is you.