Google shuts down Blocked Sites feature, gives you less control over your search results

Usually Google makes announcements about shutting down features and projects in a "spring cleaning" post on its blog. That's how it announced earlier this month it was doing away with the Google Reader RSS service, and that move generated a ton of talk, much of it negative, from long time web users.

Today, it was discovered that Google has shut down another helpful service, but this time it did so quietly, with no advanced warning on its blog. This time, the victim is the Blocked Sites feature, which let users simply block any site they did not want to see listed in their own search results.

The feature was first launched with some fanfare by Google, in March 2011, with the company saying at the time, "We’re adding this feature because we believe giving you control over the results you find will provide an even more personalized and enjoyable experience on Google." Apparently, that's not the case anymore.

For users of Google's own Chrome web browser, they still have the option to install the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension. People who use other browser such as IE, Firefox and Safari are now out of luck if they want to block certain sites from their search results on Google.

Thanks to Max Norris for the tip!

Source: Google | Image via Google

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32 Comments

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So they're removing a feature that used to be browser-independent and now force you to use a specific browser that they provide to restore the functionality? Classy work google.

Well, I have to say, thank you Google... Yet another reason to steer clear of all your services, software, hardware, and entire ecosystem! It is now apparent all you care about is driving ad revenue, and have converted yourselves into nothing more than a scumbag marketing and data harvesting organization. My decision to depart your filth has now been reinforced as the correct choice.

Thank you,
Good night,
And...
UP YOURS!

If I'm searching for programming questions now I tend to search directly at Stack Overflow. I realised after a while that I tended to just scan the results for SO entries anyway.

It's been like this for a while already. I had W3Schools and a bunch of other sites blocked and they started appearing again months ago.

Well, that explains why I'm getting results from techrepublic and expertsexchange.com in my searches again.

Thanks a lump, Goog...

mykie said,
Well, that explains why I'm getting results from techrepublic and expertsexchange.com in my searches again.

Thanks a lump, Goog...

i hate expertexchange.

BTW, the exported text file is quite easy to cut and paste into the new filters panel on this Chrome extension. Took five seconds.

I also assume that these settings will sync across accounts etc., which may be one of the reasons they did this. Who knows?

Either way, the migration path is virtually effortless so if you were a fan of this feature, as I was, I recommend you make the switch to the extension.

I'm always confused when Google gets rid of things which required virtually no maintenance, and I suspect that had ulterior motives for doing so. In reader's case, to try to drive a few more people to Google +, and in this case, probably for some advertising reason.

threetonesun said,
I'm always confused when Google gets rid of things which required virtually no maintenance, and I suspect that had ulterior motives for doing so. In reader's case, to try to drive a few more people to Google +, and in this case, probably for some advertising reason.

Reader was killed because of privacy costs. Google didnt want to dedicate people to keep up the program and to make sure it was secure. Right now, there really is no specific people working on Reader.

techbeck said,
Google didnt want to dedicate people to keep up the program and to make sure it was secure.

There is some guy here on neowin who every once in a while still complains about NetMeeting being removed from Windows Vista (he wanted the US Supreme Court to intervene to stop Microsoft from shipping Win8 until NetMeeting be replaced). And of course, the Start Menu being removed. But Google removes features, and it is OK because they don't want to spend money to keep them running, so that is a valid excuse? Microsoft didn't want to spend resources updating the start menu. There argument over, no need for anyone to complain about the start menu any more.

Supposedly. I find it hard to believe considering all of the Google services use the same account, but whatever. It's just another marker along Google's path of endless beta's and dead ideas.

SoylentG said,

There is some guy here on neowin who every once in a while still complains about NetMeeting being removed from Windows Vista (he wanted the US Supreme Court to intervene to stop Microsoft from shipping Win8 until NetMeeting be replaced). And of course, the Start Menu being removed. But Google removes features, and it is OK because they don't want to spend money to keep them running, so that is a valid excuse? Microsoft didn't want to spend resources updating the start menu. There argument over, no need for anyone to complain about the start menu any more.

Was just giving the reason why Google did what they did.

SoylentG said,

There is some guy here on neowin who every once in a while still complains about NetMeeting being removed from Windows Vista (he wanted the US Supreme Court to intervene to stop Microsoft from shipping Win8 until NetMeeting be replaced). And of course, the Start Menu being removed. But Google removes features, and it is OK because they don't want to spend money to keep them running, so that is a valid excuse? Microsoft didn't want to spend resources updating the start menu. There argument over, no need for anyone to complain about the start menu any more.

Hi nohone.

omgben said,

Hi nohone.

Nope, sorry. While I have said that I do have another account around here that I used for a few months, I went back to this one which I opened many years ago, but just started using again.

Never used this feature and dont know anyone who did. I am sure an extenstion will come out for FF at some time tho. If not by Google, then someone else. Safari and IE...well, sucks they dont have addons I guess and why I am a FF user mainly. I like my extensions.

I used it. I noticed a while back they removed the feature that allowed you to quickly add sites to your block list when you launch a site then click the back button, so they've been killing this for a while now.

I'm disappointed, as there are some low-quality websites that I don't like to see in my results and I liked being able to filter them.

techbeck said,
Never used this feature and dont know anyone who did.

It was convenient to filter out known junk/pay-to-view sites for particular topics.. programming (pay us to view the answer), certain file downloads, some gaming, sites that are just mirrors/copies of other sites, etc, sites that would keep coming up and you'd get tired of weeding through. General purpose searches, yea I don't see it being terribly useful. As mentioned you can always fall back on addons/scripts, there's a few already out there (I know for Chrome and Firefox anyway), was a lot more convenient from the service itself though, one less addon to deal with. Now that's four addons I need to run to get Google the way I want it.

Edited by Max Norris, Mar 25 2013, 9:17pm :

I just use myself and skip past the stuff I dont want to see. never used much of Google's stuff other than Android, email, and search. If it is something I can easily ignore or get past on my own, I dont rely on something else.

I used it. It was immensely useful for filtering out the forum scrapers like BigResource and PPV sites like expert sex change. I don't really see the logic behind this.

I'm starting to wonder if Google are collectively losing their minds.

I used this when it was introduced.

Been looking for it for a while now, couldn't find t he option anymore.

Few weeks later I see this article.

More than a damn shame. Wonder what other useful features will be killed off now.

Majesticmerc said,
I used it. It was immensely useful for filtering out the forum scrapers like BigResource and PPV sites like expert sex change. I don't really see the logic behind this.

I'm starting to wonder if Google are collectively losing their minds.

Totally agree with you. This is why, and yes I realize how unreasonable this may sound, I quit using Chrome. I LOVED Chrome, but Google pushed me to the point to where I didn't want to support them anymore. I'm still working on removing the rest of their services, but I'm still giving some of their products a chance.

I just don't like the floor being swept up from under me though.