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When searching becomes the default behaviour

 10:27 am on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

About an hour ago I started to write a new post here (well, rather more like a rant) about how much trouble I was having in finding an official list of counties and their ISO codes for use in a database.

I had spent a few hours searching (in different search engines) for such a list, but all I could find were HTML lists on Wikipedia and other random sources. Nothing that looked too official, and even though all the lists I did find looked ok, I would have prefered to have the list from some decent organisation.

I was getting rather frustrated. Then, as I was ranting, I realised I was looking for 'the country name and its ISO 2-letter code'. Hmm. ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. A thought occurred to me. Off I popped to the ISO homepage. Right there was a handy little 'Popular Standards' section, and in there was my country list. Downloadable as text, HTML or XML.

Exactly what I was looking for.

Now, in all my searches in 2 different search engines, nothing linked to this (or if it did, I missed it). Yet, it was what I was looking for.

This made me think. This could be put down to bad SEO on the part of ISO. When searching for this data, this page should have been at the top of the results.

But another thought crossed my mind - what made me search for this data in the first place? If I had thought about what I was doing for 2 minutes, I would have thought that maybe I should check the website of the organisation who made the standard in the first place. Failing that, hit the search engines.

I think I have just fallen into the habit of searching for anything I need to know, without considering whether I know where it ideally should be in the first place. It just strikes me as being a little bit lazy, and I could have saved a good few hours if I was a little more proactive.

Anyway, just thought I'd share it!



 10:36 am on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

"country code list" has wikipedia as the second entry, and that page links to the official list.

The official ISO list is at #9 and #10.


 11:06 am on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe I was being too specific with how I wanted it (free download, csv, etc)


 11:37 am on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

And then there are the times you have to employ g### just to find the right page in wikipedia for you...

Wasn't someone hereabouts saying only recently that a lot of people won't even use an URL when they have it? Instead they enter the URL into google's search field and click on the result. (I have personally witnessed someone doing this, so I am forced to believe it.)

I've started shortcutting though. If I can pin it down to a specific name-- place, person, whatever-- or single word, into the address bar it goes as


I can't be the only one, because they've got massive redirects in place. And, ahem, just like g### they will read your mind, or try to, and decide which of the seventeen articles referring to Samename is the one you want.

Buying is much easier. www.companyname.com almost always works.

And yup, it took me a goodish while to get hold of the proper ISO country list, but now I've got it bookmarked. Along with language codes [sil.org], www status codes [w3.org], mail error codes [tools.ietf.org], and the still more arcane things like IANA character sets and URI rules. Makes for a crowded bookmark list but at least I don't have to search for them again.


 1:26 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wasn't someone hereabouts saying only recently that a lot of people won't even use an URL when they have it? Instead they enter the URL into google's search field and click on the result. (I have personally witnessed someone doing this, so I am forced to believe it.)

I've seen people do that like my Mother but only because she didn't know the difference between the address bar and a search engine. Trying to explain it to her only led to more confusion so I don't even bother as long as it works for her.


 5:24 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can I refer you to my post from 7 years ago, near the end of the last page of this thread?


 5:55 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

That page should be a pop up ( or something ) that opens for all posters here with less than a 100 on their post count..before they can post in this little box I'm typing in now..( how would it be possible to enforce reading of it ? before allowing access to type ? ) ..

So many people forget, or just do not realise, that we are not the average surfer, nor are we our average visitor, customer..


 9:32 pm on Sep 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

how would it be possible to enforce reading of it? before allowing access to type?

By adding a bunch of tiresome extra code, analogous to the popup that forces you to say that you've read the T&C or EULA or equivalent before it lets you continue with whatever it is you want to download. And even then, there's no follow-up that says "The text you have been asked to read is equivalent to twelve pages of 10-point type. No human can read it in 1.75 seconds. Please click the alternative button indicating that you will abide by our conditions even though you don't know what they are."

we are not the average surfer

Except when it comes to, say, for example,

IMPORTANT: Please {et cetera}
Please Read Before Posting

in a location that's impossible not to notice.


 8:32 am on Sep 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

We're special, not average and unless you have a 100 posts you don't count? Talking a lot doesn't mean you have anything important to say.


 9:19 am on Sep 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

The people that frequent this forum are "different" to your average web user in many ways. That is all.


 10:44 am on Sep 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I meant that those who join with a problem and immediately post a link to their own website to have it "solved" /"reviewed" etc or who post code dumps with their website name in them instead of "example.com"..would maybe get the message ( cos they apparently never read TOS ) ...and that thsoe who post "why are my visitors not buying" and then post a link to a site that is flashing and blinking like the red light district of Tokyo or Amsterdam..

Might just think to watch how a non webmaster searches or interacts with a site..and judging by the way some members who have join dates older than mine ( but who have apparently never read outside of the adsense earnings, and Panda/Penguin threads ) post about "why do my visitors " etc..I figured that about 100 times of dealing with a pertinent thread to read, before one could get to the "post box", might avoid that.. ;)

You only have to look at the apache threads to realise how few people join, immediately post, and don't even bother the read old threads..

And what they miss is that the Gold is in the old posts..I read here waaaaay more than I post.. If you read fast, you can read all the new posts in each thread, every day ( takes less than an hour ) ..and still have 30 minutes or so to read some of the old posts from others..

Of course under a 100 posts counts ..we've all seen superb first time posts ..and pros like the gypsy who have less than 100 post even now..

How would you deal with the daily, deluge of " I can't be bothered to read old posts or search , can someone write my code for me ? "...g1smd sees this every day ;)


 6:29 am on Sep 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nature of a forum is to have people ask questions without looking four posts down at the same question and the responses.
Human nature, at least in my experience with my own forums.

My initial response was actually initiated by thinking about the gypsy.

I deal with repeated questions by referencing definitive posts. When you have control of anchor text and link location it becomes easier to guide users to the information they seek.


 4:13 pm on Sep 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Nature of a forum is to have people ask questions without looking four posts down at the same question and the responses.

Things change so fast on the web that the answers in historic posts may now be misleading if not totally wrong so I have no problem with somebody posting a question that had been answered a year or two ago. However bluntforce is right, I have also seen people post questions that had been answered in the previous post an hour or two earlier.

Back to the original topic the more you observer end user behaviour the more confused you will become. Most of use are probably highly efficient browser users. The general public definitely are not.


 9:23 pm on Sep 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

The general public definitely are not.

One member of the general public has been asking me whether Google Chrome is an improvement over the ordinary google. I'm not 100% sure I have got him to understand that Chrome is not a search engine.

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