I can confirm this too - I can see it displayed for pretty much any forum software, including custom solutions like at WebmasterWorld:
Google has certainly put some work into grabbing (and displaying) useful data from page contents recently, and this strikes me as similar to Google Displaying Dates before Snippets [webmasterworld.com].
That's an incredibly useful feature. I don't see it on all WebmasterWorld site searches though. On the very general site search for "google" which Andy posts, the extra information didn't yet appear.
But when I made the search a little more specific, the information did show up...
site:webmasterworld.com google keyword tool [google.com]
The year apparently isn't returned for threads from the current year. I also notice where I am (in California) that the data doesn't yet appear for every post. I'm sure there will be some bugs that needing shaking out, but this is an auspicious start.
Again, I'm wondering whether this is a preface to sorting results by date or by relevance, as is currently possible in news results.
BradleyT - Just for reference, your post observes these results on May 14, 2008, but only when logged into a Google account.
Apparently now you no longer need to be logged in.
Just saw one saying the last post was in July 2007, but there were two dozen posts in the thread this past week. Seems like a good idea if Googlebot crawled like it used but with the deadbot hardly ever crawling anything it makes for unhelpful results... I wouldn't have clicked on that "July 2007" result if I didn't know already there were posts from the past week.
Good idea but poorly implemented.
And why google never announce such new features? Or am I missing something?
Last shock I got was when I found out that searching is now case sensitive!
Im seeing it on my wordpress site too. (not exactly a blog, but a news site)
It says 1 post to the original story, and thinks the comments to be follow up posts ..
so as per google blog == forum ?
Should i be worried?
The only quick thought I have in mind as to where they are getting the extra information, such as date of posts and authors etc on forums is from forum's RSS feeds submitted through WMT as sitemaps, example [snip], though there is no author info here, some other sites do include the author and perhaps more. It does make sense and is indeed useful.
[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 5:04 pm (utc) on Oct. 12, 2008]
[edit reason] No specific sites, please [/edit]
Just noticed this to, showing on a few keywords I was search for, not on any of my forums though, useful if the information could be passed through some meta tag as most if not all forum scripts can do this
Wow. I'm impressed. Google's picked up an accurate post count and last post date from my boards, which run on custom software and do not generate XML with that information. (The RSS feed lists just the topic, description and URL of each thread.) So it's not like Google wrote this just for boards running popular discussion software. Google seems to have intuited the information from the page design.
[edited by: Malibucreek at 12:37 am (utc) on Oct. 17, 2008]
Do we know yet how Google figures this out?
I don't see it on some sites I manage and wondering if there are certain "hints" missing that Google picks up on.
Search that found this thread with today (Nov. 8, 2008):
Last post: Oct. 17, 2008 [google.com]
But the post date referred to in their date stamp is the 17th, and the post was actually dated Oct. 16, 2008. Now, the post prior to this one is Nov. 7, 2008 so let's see what date they'll show for that one.
My guess is that it'll be the 8th (or the 9th). If so, wouldn't that mean the date reflects what day they indexed the thread and last post?
This seems to be buggy. I hope they fix it soon as it is misinformation.
In one search query I keep an I eye on, Google had Jan 2008 displayed as the last post for a particular journal thread. That was about 2 weeks ago. It is now saying last post: June 2004 (with only 2 posts). This thread contains around 30 posts up to August of this year.
Well obviously they can only show the last date they indexed.
Perhaps the idea is to only show it for more actively indexed sites.
So far I have seen the results on vbulletin, phpbb, punbb, wordpress and even here which is completely proprietary, so I wonder how they are doing it, unless they decided to teach the bot that parses the info this site specifically.
I noticed this happening in the serps today for the first time on my custom forum software. I'm impressed.
I still don't see the dates on site searches... only on general serps.
If Google's set things up this way intentionally, I think they've made a mistake in judgement. Seems to me that when someone's doing a site search of a large forum, that's a place where date and thread information is most likely to be useful to the searcher.
As of today, Google is showing a date as the first couple of words in the snippet for a site: search on one of my sites. This is not a forum or a blog. It is showing the date the page was last modified. I don't know if it is getting it from the "Last Modified" info in the page footer, or from the date in the HTTP Header.
Marcia. The date is keyed to UTC, so for any time mid-to-late evening in the US, it is already "tomorrow" in terms of UTC. That probably explains your "one day" date discrepancy.
g1smd - thanks for the update. I'm now seeing dates on maybe 40% of the pages returned on some WebmasterWorld site searches.
I keep coming back to this thread and seeing it as amazing. Amazing that a programmer at Google took the time to write a custom strip routine.
fyi: I changed the template twice. so there is clearly some intelligence behind that routine or their own strip template.