Thursday, November 10, 2005

How to Search the Internet(s)

     I'm taking a break from "Tax Week" because, frankly, even my Accountant wife is getting bored. I can only imagine how the rest of you feel. But don't worry - I'll be back tomorrow for all of your insomnia needs.
     Like many bloggers, I have a web counter that tracks how many people visit my blog. It also tells me what city the visitor is from, how many pages the visitor has looked at, and what web page referred the visitor to me. If you used a search engine to find me, I can see what words you used to do it. I've read a lot of blogs that poke fun at the crazy ways people find them. It is pretty interesting. I mean, why did the person searching for "top snobbiest schools" (9/9) or "investigative reporters channel 19 scott taylor cleveland oh" (10/19) land on The Truth by Scott? And how on earth did I ever get near the top of the search for "cat"?? (10/20)
     Some I understand but are just funny. "cnn liberals to pay back 1.14 million" (11/7) and "capitalism will be wiped out" (11/8) and "american red cross scandle" (10/5) are obviously from someone who just listened to Rush or Neal. And why the hell are people still searching the web for news on Natalee Holloway?? You think if they found her body, it wouldn't make the front page.... oh wait. You assuredly don't read newspapers. Well, MTV news would still let you know. Since I've started tracking my stats on August 26, 58 people have come to my page looking for "natalee holloway", "natalie halloway", "natalee haolloway", "natalie halloway poker", "intrigue natalee holloway". But some of these people really drive me crazy with their stupidity. Someone searched for "truth natalie holloway" on November 1. Oohhhhhhh - the Truth! If the web had only know you wanted the truth about Natalee the whole time, it would have told you what happened to her! Doh! Someone else searched for "updates on the natalie holloway case in aruba" on September 9. Besides not spelling her name correctly, did the searcher think the web would understand that "updates" means "don't show me stuff I've already seen before"? I mean, there were "updates" the day after she went missing.
     So this leads to me having to teach the internet how to perform searches. Finding information is a little different here than it is in other parts of reality (which you may just be visiting. In that case, welcome). The internet does not speak English. When you ask "did natalee's cellphone work in aruba" (10/17), Yahoo will look for the word "natalee's", certainly, but it will also spend time looking for the word "in". Yahoo does not understand your question. There is no hamster on a wheel inside your monitor that understands the question. And even if you had put that phrase in quotes (which you didn't), why do you think someone who had the answer you were looking for would post the exact same words? Searches on the internet require key words. In this case, I might have searched for "natalee 'cellphone service' aruba" and maybe done more searches replacing "cellphone" with "wireless" or "mobile" or "telephone".
     How about "natalee halloway -latest information on the case" (9/7)? This one's great. What the fudge did the searcher think he was doing with the dash? A dash in a search engine means "not". Basically they searched for a web page that had the words "case information holloway on natalee the" and did not have "latest". That's sure to be a winner.
     I'll leave you with a few more gems that I've collected over the past couple of months.
  • the truth hurts bush -- I agree, but I doubt this combination of words will find you what you're looking for

  • pics of injusticeness -- I'm pretty sure George W. did this search, or at least he invented the word "injusticeness"

  • inheiritance taxes -- I like the play on words here - heir and inheritance combined

  • both sides of the smoking-in-public-buildings issue -- both sides you say?

  • +1,canada @comcast.net "haig" -- I have no clue what this was supposed to find

  • how many members of congress aren't white men? -- beating a dead horse, but STOP WRITING AS IF THERE'S A LITTLE SEARCH ENGINE ELF HIDING IN YOUR MONITOR!

  • "the witches" by roald dahl unconstitutional -- I'm not sure this searcher really understands what "unconstitutional" means.

  • tsunami how bad was it 2005 -- Isn't it great how the web knows exactly what you mean when you say "it"?

5 comments:

ORF said...

Google is actually a very powerful and smart search engine, consequently, there's always user error involved. Here's some tips from a pro to you guys (remember, I get PAID to do online research each and every day):

If you are looking for an exact phrase, put the entire thing in quotation marks. For example "The Truth By Scott" instead of The Truth By Scott. If you just type in the latter, it will bring up ALL pages that have those four words on it, even if they are each five paragraphs apart.

If you want to know the answer to a question such as (i.e. How many people live in China?) then type in "The population of China is". It's a fairly good chance that you'll find the end of that sentence when you hit "Search"

If you want the definition of a word type "define:truth" and you'll be led to lots of internet dictionary sites.

If you want to find two words that might exist within one word of each other, type red*blue. You'll probably come up with lots of hits that read "red, white and blue".

You never need to type the word "and" between two search terms. It's an understood operator. Like I said, Google's pretty powerful.

If you type in OR between two terms ("Maui OR Hawaii") then you'll find sites that have either the word Mauir or the word Hawaii. That they have both will be coincindental.

Exclude adult content by typing the word "safesearch" in. For example: safesearch: breast feeding.

Finally, my favorite is the "cached" button. Once you've done your search, you can either hit on the link at the top of each entry, or you can go to the bottom line of each found site and click on the "cached" link. This will highlight your search terms on the page it brings up so that you don't have to scan the page looking for it. It's very helpful particularly if there's a lot of text on the page!!!

If you have trouble remembering these tips, the best thing to do is use the "Advanced Search" button on the side of the search bar. It gives you a really easy form to use to find exact phrases, certain words, exclude words, etc. etc.

You can also review all these tips at www.google.com/help/cheatsheet.html

Shannon said...

Must you take all the fun out of the internet? Truth be told, ahem, occasionally when I'm bored, I'll type in some asinine question into google and see what pops up. It's kinda fun, especially with safesearch off. Er, never do that I work, I mean, yeah.

Also, whenever I'm frustrated, unsure of how to get what I need, I'll type in whatever question I'm looking for, if only to help me narrow the search. Eventhough I know there's no intelligent search hound running around the internet sniffing for what I need, sometimes it gives me leads, and I can Re-google. For me it's a form of brainstorming.

sideshow bob said...

Does screaming at your computer help it work faster? How about holding your breath?

I love google, in part, because the home page is so simple. No waiting forever for a page with bunches and bunches of extra flair to open.

scorcho said...

If you check the search terms that brought me to your blog, you'll see "hot naked men." Is this more questionable to your reputation or to mine?

Scott said...

Scorcho, I believe you meant, "hot naked man", in which case my reputation is more than preserved. :)

Shannon, I'm sorry for taking all the fun out of the internet, but please try to remember that you still have the porn and the gambling, so it's still fun.