Early on in "The Matrix," Neo wakes up sitting in his desk chair to see a prompt on his PC monitor – "follow the white rabbit" – that ultimately leads him to the man he'd wanted to work with. Judging by a series of discussions on Hacker News, Google may be employing similar tactics.
Some programmers have reported receiving a prompt on their screen while browsing information on Python programming that invites them to Google Foobar, where they can solve difficult coding problems. No one can log into the site unless they've logged in before, suggesting that it’s an invite-only page. Here’s how a Hacker News user described his invitation:
I was Googling some Python topic when my search results page suddenly split in the middle with some text saying something to the effect of "You speak our language, would you like to take a test?", linking to http://www.google.com/foobar/ .
I followed it and was led to a pseudo-shell, where I then found some coding problems. I can return to the page to continue working on them.
The discussion on Hacker News quickly turned to Google’s ambitions with the project. Many speculate that it’s an automated way to crowdsource potential employees through its search engine. Those who browse enough advanced information relating to the kind of programming Google is looking for might be a good fit, so why not devise a tool that reaches out to them? The coding tests can simply weed out those who might not be skilled enough, and could potentially uncover a "Good Will Hunting" kind of genius just waiting to solve a math problem on a chalk board.
Of course, some were skeptical and even annoyed at a Google tactic that appears to rely on large-scale monitoring of search results. But one Hacker News user who hinted at being a Google employee suggested that everybody relax:
Disclaimer: my opinions are my own and not representing those of my employer or co-workers. I have no direct relationship to this project and haven't looked it up internally.
Has it occurred to any of you that we might do these things for sheer fun, because doing that is not only allowed but celebrated?
The Daily Dot has already covered this and the discussion is spreading to Reddit, so Google searches for Python information will probably spike in the next few days. Sure, you could always just find Google’s job listings the old-fashioned way, but wouldn't it be more fun to see if your search habits make you seem smart enough for a job offer?