Google appears to have modified the 'I’m Feeling Lucky' search function so that it now returns a normal page of search results, rather than going straight to the top-listed web page.
The function, despite being something of a rarely used novelty, has cost the company millions of dollars in the past as it does not display adverts and promoted sites on the first page of results.
The change may be Google’s attempt to claw back this revenue or it may be an error, but if it is the latter it has been functioning in this way for around two days without being fixed.
V3 contacted Google for clarification on the change but had received no reply at the time of publication.
The change was noted on Reddit, where people who use the function to visit popular sites like YouTube and Google Drive realised it was not working.
A developer on Reddit said they have seen the function removed in the code for an IRC bot they manage, suggesting that it has been altered deliberately.
Google Forum users also noticed the change, which seems to have come into effect over the past two days. Some wondered whether it is linked to the new Chrome update, but others see it regardless of which browser they use.
"I don't think it has anything to do with my end. Unlike the others, I haven't done anything differently in the last couple days. I haven't changed any settings or installed any updates since then. I know it sounds strange, but I think Google changed something on their end," said one.
V3 has tried the I’m Feeling Lucky function in Chrome, Firefox and Safari and discovered the same change, so that you just see a page of results, rather than being taken straight to the first page.
The only notable difference between the results returned on a normal search or the new I'm Feeling Lucky results is that results on the latter do not include additional information such as pictures, news and widgets in the results (see below).
Below: Normal Google search results page
Below: Google search results from I'm Feeling Lucky button
The change comes in the same week that Google celebrated its 18th birthday, so it may be that the company decided the time was right to quietly phase out the feature, which was something of a hangover from its more youthful days.
We will update this story if we hear back from Google.
But deep learning pulls ahead for complex tasks
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base