The author of this wiseGEEK article might be a writer/musician from Alabama, the business writer for a Florida newspaper or the resident professional at a golf course in Pennsylvania. According to the Google search engine, the writer, the journalist and the golf pro all have one thing in common, our names. Researching one's own name on Google or other search engines has created a new phenomenon known as a Googleganger. A Googleganger is one or more persons who have identical names and who all appear in a list of GOOGLE search results.
The term Googleganger is a play on the German word doppelganger, literally "double-goer," suggesting a physical twin or an eerie similarity in appearance or identity. A Googleganger may share the same name as the searcher, but thankfully not the same lifestyle. Part of the fun of researching a Googleganger is discovering how different two or more people with identical names can be. A Googleganger may be significantly older or younger than the searcher, for example.
There is always a temptation to contact a Googleganger whenever possible, and a number of searchers routinely give into that temptation. Sometimes it can be very enlightening to learn the experiences of other people who have lived with an obscure surname or an unusual first or middle name. Not all Googlegangers may feel comfortable communicating in this way with strangers who share their names, but a number of people do respond to polite queries about themselves.
Not everything about a Googleganger search is positive, however. Some Internet twins may have their names connected with criminal behavior or other negative acts. There may even be some identity issues with a Googleganger's name becoming confused with the searcher's own identification. If a person finds themselves on a "no fly" list or receives an unsolicited call from creditors or law enforcement officers, it may be the result of a Googleganger's bad acts.
Finding a Googleganger online can be an interesting experience, especially if the Internet twin has an unusual career or lifestyle. Friends and family may not even realize a Googleganger exists, which could lead to some interesting questions if the Internet twin happens to be an exotic dancer or a notorious celebrity. One female college student was surprised when her mother told her she knew about her participation in adult movies. The student discovered that one of her Googlegangers was indeed an adult film actress who had used an identical stage name. Thankfully, that confusion was cleared up quickly, but others may spend a long time wondering why their friends look at them so strangely after a routine Internet search.