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Cold? Boring? Expensive? Google Autocomplete Reveals Some Canadian City Stereotypes
July 14, 2013
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Calgary Skyline (Photo: Getty)

What do other people think of the city where you live?

There are lots of ways to answer that question - you could talk to your neighbours, read the letters in some local newspapers, or maybe visit a few blogs from your city.

But a much quicker (if maybe less meaningful) way to get a sense of the stereotypical perception of your home city is to use an internet search engine.

Google's autocomplete feature tries to guess what you're searching for before you finish typing in the search bar. It does so, according to Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand, by looking at real searches that other people have performed and ranking them according to popularity.

Atlanta, Georgia resident and SEO specialist Nate Shivar recently decided to find out what stereotypes people were applying to 50 of the most populous cities in the U.S., so he typed all of them into a search bar with the phrase "why is [city] so..."

Montreal Skyline (Photo: AP)

The search engine did the rest. Then he sent those results to The Atlantic Cities, where designer Mark Byrnes turned some of his results into nice graphics, with an image of the city in question behind each search result.

But those are all U.S. cities. We wanted to find out how people are stereotyping some cities in Canada, based on autocomplete.

Toronto Skyline (Photo: Getty)

Here's what we found - a lot of talk about weather and temperature (a lot of Canadian cities get the question "why is it so cold?"). Some questions about entertainment value - both Toronto and Winnipeg brought up the word "boring" - and concerns about cost: the word "expensive" comes into play.

Some definite surprises, too: the only word that autocomplete comes up with for Halifax is "violent."

Halifax Skyline (Photo: Wikimedia/Robert Alfers)

On the whole, the Canadian city autocomplete challenge did not bring up a lot of positivity.

But maybe that says more about Google than it does about Canada's awesome cities. Let's see what the people think:


Saskatoon Skyline (Photo: CBC)

Edmonton Skyline (Photo: Getty)

Vancouver Skyline (Photo: Getty)

Winnipeg Skyline (Photo: AP)

Iqaluit Skyline (Photo: Wikimedia/Aaron Einstein)

Yellowknife Skyline (Photo: AP)

Via The Atlantic Cities


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