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Tip of the Day: Be Both General and Specific When You Search

A Vague Search With Results
A vague search with results (click for larger image).

People make two types of mistakes when searching the internet: they’re much too specific, or much too general.

The “sweet spot” is somewhere between the two, of course. Or perhaps it’s to be both general and specific.

I ran into this recently as I was researching something for a personal blog entry. I knew some, but not all, of a quote from the popular television show The Big Bang Theory. My post discusses the confusion between fact and opinion, and I recalled a scene from the show where the main character’s mother said something to the effect of “and that’s your opinion” to a statement her son, Sheldon, stated as fact relating to evolution.

Not a lot to go on, but if you pick it apart, there are several search-worthy terms:

  • I was pretty sure that the topic was evolution.
  • I knew that the word “fact” was used.
  • The main character in the scene I was looking for is named “Sheldon”.
  • I was pretty sure that the response was along the lines of “that’s your opinion”.

That seems pretty messy, and in a way, it is. It’s a combination of some vague generalities with what specific tidbits I could remember.

So I searched for “evolution facts sheldon that’s your opinion”. No punctuation; nothing even indicating order of appearance; just the general and specific words and phrases I could come up with.

As the image accompanying this tip shows, I got it in one: both the quote and the video clip.

The tip? Think a little about what you’re looking for, and don’t be afraid to be both general and specific in your search.

For the record, the full quote is:

Sheldon: But evolution is not opinion, it’s a fact.

Sheldon’s mom: And that is your opinion.

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1 thought on “Tip of the Day: Be Both General and Specific When You Search”

  1. And if first you don’t succeed, try again. I tend to go light and add words later if necessary. I get about 80% on the first try. I figure I minimize keystrokes in the long run. :-)
    I also know someone else who literally types in a question with a question mark and all. She also gets good results which surprised me. Might be because she phrases the questions well. So the try again also apples if you typed too much and didn’t get anything useful in the results, only this time removing words.


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