• United States
Jon Gold
Senior Writer

Million Short showcases the Web’s supporting cast

May 29, 20122 mins
Enterprise Applications

Tired of all your search results coming from the same few sites? The tinkerers at Exponential Labs have you covered

Despite its almost unimaginable scope, the Internet can sometimes seem like a pretty small place these days. For some common types of search queries, top results tend to come from a relatively limited pool of websites — the LinkedIns, Wikipedias and Amazons of the world.

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But what if you could simply excise the top 10, 100, or even 1 million sites on the Web from your search results? Sanjay Arora, the founder of Web technology think tank Exponential Labs, was curious. He wrote the first version of Million Short in a single late-night session several weeks ago.

“It was just kind of something that popped into my head, and I did it,” he says.

His colleagues, however, were not uniformly impressed by his creation. “Half of them loved it, half of them hated it,” Arora recalls. However, after posting Million Short to the Hacker News website, “the rest is history.”

“It’s like a different Internet. It’s the Web through a different lens,” the creator says.

Million Short bases its determinations of the top websites on Alexa rankings, and relies on a Microsoft Bing API and some in-house information for its basic search capability, he says.

He notes, however, that the name should be taken with a grain of salt. Removing a million websites “was a little extreme, but I noticed that if you removed the top 1,000 or top 100 sites, you got some nice results.” Still, “million” sounded better in a website name, he asserts.

Arora’s also careful to point out that he’s not critiquing the quality of the Web’s giants by creating Million Short, merely in broadening the scope of search-based Web use.

One measurement of Million Short’s success, according to Arora, is that it now frequently removes itself from relevant search results. He even uses the verb “m-shorting” to describe the use of the search engine.

So what’s to stop a Google or a Bing from simply adding an “ignore x most popular sites” option to their own search pages? Nothing, really, according to Arora. On the other hand, such a move would be a powerful validation of the concept, and a boon to Internet users.

“In that sense, I’d be happy [about it],” he says.

Email Jon Gold at and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.