Search Engine habits? (take II)

Subject: Search Engine habits? (take II)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Kevin McLauchlan <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 06 Feb 2009 11:24:51 -0500

Kevin McLauchlan noted: <<I should have been more clear.>>

Always a laudable goal in a technical communicator. <g>

<<I don't consider re-submitting a search with modifications to be
going past the second page of the original search.>>

Then we agree to disagree. The results of the modified/refined search
typically represent pages that would ordinarily appear on pages 2 and
later of the search results. As I noted in the latter half of my reply
(but could have been more clear <g>), I do go on to the 2nd, 3rd, and
etc. pages if I don't have a clear understanding of how to refine my
search. I've gone deeper than 20 pages sometimes, particularly if I'm
more interested in what people are saying about a topic than I am in
finding a specific answer to a question.

<<the logical next step - if one is needed - is to refine the search,
and NOT to go paging to the tenth or fiftieth page of returns from
your current search. In other words, anything past the second page of
Google or Yahoo hits rarely gets seen, except by novices.>>

That's probably a fair description of the problem; most people aren't
as stubborn as I am. (As we are?) Indeed, it means that the vast
majority of the material on the Web is probably only seen by a handful
of people who know the author. That can be a problem, because vox
populi often drowns out the few expert voices we should be listening
to, and the really valuable information is often lost in a sea of

But I'd also note (based on nearly 20 years of techwr-l and other
professional groups) that as in documentation, people who don't find
what they want in the first page or two of search results then give up
and write to a discussion group such as this one. Instant
gratification is our state religion in the developed world. I'm not
criticizing this -- well, I suppose I am, but that's not my point
here; rather I'm reporting it as anecdotal evidence of what has been
broadly studied and claimed to be true for documentation use: if
people can't find what they want quickly, they give up and ask
someone. We need to remember this when we choose to not index our docs
appropriately and instead rely solely or primarily on search engines.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
***Now available*** _Effective onscreen editing_


ComponentOne Doc-To-Help 2009 is your all-in-one authoring and publishing
solution. Author in Doc-To-Help's XML-based editor, Microsoft Word or
HTML and publish to the Web, Help systems or printed manuals.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


Search Engine habits: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Search Engine habits?: From: Geoff Hart
RE: Search Engine habits?: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

Previous by Author: Search Engine habits?
Next by Author: Meetings -- ARRGGHHH!!!
Previous by Thread: RE: Search Engine habits?
Next by Thread: RE: Search Engine habits? (take II)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads