Watch your p’s and q’s

Go to google and search for “foo bar”

You get some variety of this:
http://www.google.com/search?q=foo+bar
Notice the q= part. It is describing the term you searched for.

Now go to yahoo.com and do the exact same thing.
http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=foo+bar

Notice the p= part.  It’s p not q.

Why is Yahoo using “p” when Google is using “q”?  What is the point?  Why do they have to be different?

So now, as a web developer, I need write a bunch of ridiculous script to figure out who uses what and normalize it.  Isn’t there a universal search engine police that can make a law?

It amazes me how something as simple as a letter can change how much work tens of thousands of people have do.

4 Replies to “Watch your p’s and q’s”

  1. So strange. Isn’t q the standard? After all, it’s the q in “search query”! What is p supposed to represent? Parameters? Of course, in the end it probably doesn’t make much difference since nobody uses Yahoo search any more. 😉

  2. Yahoo works if you chance the p to a q. I guess that is nice that it works either way. Anyway, maybe if you just stick with q all the time it will be ok.

  3. The referrer is the URL of the page before you get to my site. It makes no difference if p or q works if you type it in, it’s what is default. As a web developer, I have to write script to parse both. Totally annoying, and just because their default is not standard.

    Craig, it is true hardly anyone uses Yahoo, but it still represents 2-5% of traffic. Kind of a large slice to ignore.

  4. lulz. I was writing a search engine referrer-checking script and came across this post after noticing the same thing. Maybe Yahoo did this as sort of a joke on the “mind your p’s and q’s” saying.

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