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Where Search Engines Fail

Difficult Searches

     
5:18 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Here's one for you. Try the major search engines and get some info on AND circuits. Try to find who invented the AND circuit, when it was invented, what AND circuits are used for etc.

Yes, you'll have to use quotes, and yes, there is some information out there, but it is not easy to get to. For me, this is a perfect example of where search engines could improve.

Got any more examples of difficult searches?

10:21 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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yep ..loads ...:) but if i want to stay inside the TOS ..I cant mention them ..so i wont :)
11:01 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Good example, had to go see for myself. Without quotes you won't find anything remotely related. With quotes, it works better to use a phrase likely to appear in a descriptive article like "an AND circuit"

Since "and" is such a common word, as well as being a stop word, I guess there's not an easy way for the engine to return what you know you're looking for without the additional help of quotes and use of a likely phrase.

LisaB

11:05 pm on Nov 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

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When a media entity or genre uses a historical name or reference and becomes popular, the original pretty much disappears.

I was researching a Chinese hero last month and I kept getting serp after serp of kung fu movie reviews or kung fu movies for sale.

I had to use five or ten negative modifiers and still had trouble finding what I was looking for (-movie -cinema -movies -reviews).

12:07 am on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Ego-searching my own name requires many negative keywords to reduce the flood of results for a big museum in a particular French city.

I just tried to find a special type of battery for old cars that is both 6 AND 12 volts, that was another fun one.

Slightly off topic: What was that record-slowest search? Something like a is and the he it (etc), LOL

-Automan

12:22 am on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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WOW ..how did you do at school being called Pompedou :)
3:37 pm on Nov 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My pet peeve:
Shouldn't
Atlanta, Ga
and
Atlanta, Georgia
have the same results?

My experience is that the state name spelled out provides better results, usually, especially in middle market cities.

6:38 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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In the realm of music,
try searching for the Jam. I mean, the band with Paul Weller, known for the hit "A Town Called Malice". You get flooded with results for Pearl Jam.

OK maybe that's an easy one compared to "AND circuits"... but there's also the English band "The The" which is interpreted as "stopword stopword".

I'm not just talking about web searches; this sort of thing is much worse on generic searches through file-sharing programs. Not to imply that I would ever download copyrighted music.

8:48 am on Nov 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Who provides you with the best search results? Chances are that it is your secretary, libriarian or someone close to you in some capacity. Why? They understand you. They understand your intent based on your tone and other cues. Web search can't compete, and in many cases can't even get close, as we've seen. To be honest, I don't want to be so close to my favorite search engine that it knows me as well as another person might. So there you go, let someone else druge thru the muck for you.

On the other hand, hasn't search already begun to offer some degree of personality awareness. I believe it's possible to customise your results, and have better deductions made based on your search history. Or are we still just saving search history? I'm not sure since I rarely use personal accounts while searching. Maybe someone can clarify.

When the day comes that every single thing you do is stored into a database, from day one to day last, search should drastically improve for everyone.
.. hat anyone?

8:24 am on Nov 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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grandpa, what you describe is already underway. Google has already expermented publically with personal search - having indicated that I like jazz, a search for "holiday" returns Billie Holiday, not vacation deals.

You are what you search for. Amazon already knows this - that's why it remembers everything I do and every page I visit, so it can suggest new items I might like. It's often right.

It takes a while for a machine to get to know you. But the more searching you do, the more the machine knows about your tastes, preferences, and yearnings. And if it doesn't know you personally, it may be able to infer your tastes from other people who have similar interests. Do you often search for jazz music? Maybe you also like Scotch Whiskey and skinny ties.

The future of search is being able to lean into your wristwatch and say "find the recipe for that noodle dish we had at Jerry & Meg's place when we visited on Kathy's birthday. Send the recipe to my wife and have the ingredients delivered by 4:00"

11:20 am on Nov 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The most annoying things to search for are where punctuation actually means something. Common in perl, javascript, etc.

Try searching for (as someone who doesn't already know the answer):

What % means next to a number
The difference between === and ==
The meaning of =~, .=, <=, or >=
The meaning of $ before a variable name

Drop some of those into your favourite engine and let us know how you get on!

4:45 pm on Nov 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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There's a band called 'The The'. It was poorly thought out to begin with, but how do you search for that?