Dumbass of the Week: Google

At first, I was delighted to see Google’s new logo (pictured) when I logged into Google New Zealand today. After all, the logo is designed by Eric Carle, author of my son’s favorite book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I thought maybe the logo was in celebration of the book’s 40th anniversary. But instead the logo IMG Attribute reads “First Day of Fall” and links to a Google search results page for that phrase.

Nothing wrong with that you say? Sure. If you happen to live in North America where the term *Fall* is almost exclusively used. Here in the Southern Hemisphere and other parts of the world, we use the term *Autumn* to describe the season that transitions Summer to Winter. Heck, even if you look up the term Fall on Wikipedia it takes you to their definition of Autumn.

If you look at the actual search results that the logo links to, they’re not even relevant to the Southern Hemisphere. They all discuss the first day of Fall as it applies to North America or else the March Equinox. According to Twitter buddy Roy Britten, they didn’t even get the Autumn Equinox date right. As Massey University states, Autumn Equinox occurs tomorrow, March 21.

Now if today had been the first day of *Fall* in the Northern Hemisphere and Google had used that logo, I would have overlooked the matter. But to produce a special logo for their regional sites that has no relevance to persons who actually use those sites screams cultural insensitivity to me. Am I wrong?

For a company that boasts so many employees with MBAs and PhDs, this is an embarrassment. That’s why I’m crowning Google: DUMBASS OF THE WEEK.

From the corporate page of Google New Zealand:

“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

I think they left two words off the end of that sentence: “to Americans”.

Update 1: According to Twitter buddy Alan Perkins, Google.co.uk is also sporting a Eric Carle logo, with the alt text reading “First day of Spring”. Click on the logo and you’ll be taken to Google search results for that phrase, with the first listing announcing March 1 being the first day of Spring. Huh? Seems there is some confusion over the official date that Spring starts and Vernal Equinox. But don’t worry, Google has overuled that.

Update 2: I must have more influence than I thought. Mike Cochrane just informed me that Google New Zealand has CHANGED their alt tag to read “First Day of Autumn”. Good onya Google! Would be nice to see a “we were wrong” post though.

Update 3: Apparently, Google New Zealand made the change after noticing the error early this morning (see comments below left by Annie Baxter of Google NZ). Riiigggghhht. Well I’m just glad it’s fixed.

Update 4: Just spotted by Twitter user RiddlerMusic, the caterpillar logo used on Google.co.uk now links to search results for Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar instead of “First day of Spring”. The logo alt text remains the same and other regional domains still link to the Spring/Autumn SERPs. Perhaps this is due to the confusion over the official start date of the Vernal Equinox as mentioned above. Coincidence? Hmmmm

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