I just read a post from Search Engine Watch which discusses concerns over confusing results at Google. The issue centers around a complaint by English footballer Ashley Cole concerning a Google mid-page search refinement suggesting a search for the phrase "ashley cole gay" as a refinement for "ashley cole" searches.
Danny Sullivan writes this up as a confusion coming from Google’s frequent shifts in results pages as they continually experiment with various search refinement tools.
Personally, I’m not clear how there’s any confusion at work here – Danny mentions that Cole’s solicitor wanted "to know if it was editorially done by Google or based on search volume". This could be a confusion – but not, I think, one resulting from any change in SERPs so much as a common misunderstanding of search engines by the technologically less-savvy.
The creation of an automatic sub-search on "ashley cole gay" is entirely justified, since there is clearly an ongoing issue surrounding the football player and gay activities.
I don’t protest that Google’s results may not be interpreted the same way by someone in the search engine industry and an "outsider" but I believe this is a confusion coming from a lack of awareness concerning the general principles of search and the policies of the search engines rather than any specific confusion with Google’s shifting results.