Basic Search terms

I was looking at the blog stats tonight and there is a portion that tells you the search terms that people used to find the blog. I’ve noticed this a few times and generally been aghast at some of the things I have seen. People are running searches like

“Poverty good”

“Obama plan passage political capital”

etc. etc. So here is a quick guide for doing searches:

1. Use google- it has the cached function that lets you see websites that otherwise aren’t available, more customization in terms of search criteria than anything else etc- trust me just use google.

2. Using google you don’t need to use words like and, just type things in.

Now onto real search tips.

1. Start specific- think about what the ideal card for the argument you are looking for would say. Shoot for the moon first. To do this don’t use quotes because you won’t know for sure in what order the words will appear in etc. So if you are looking for a card that will argue that collapse of leadership causes nuclear war, don’t put “leadership collapse causes nuke war”. Most authors don’t right in 5 word causal sentences like that. (”leadership+collapse+causes+nuke+war” as you can see no results). Instead put a string of words that would appear in an ideal card. So something like: US leadership proliferation terrorism nuclear war- which while not perfect at least leads to this

(which incidentally lead me to discover this sweet heg bad article

3. Use selected quotes- so putting “nuclear war” in quotes will stop google from returning articles that say nuclear¬†separate¬†from war. This is a double edged sword though- this will also prevent you from finding articles that say “nuclear exchange” or another synonym. You can add a lot more detail using the advanced function on google which you can click on next to the search box. You can also use the or function in there to search for “nuclear war” or “nuclear exchange” etc.

4. Get broader- if your initial search didn’t turn up something useful then broaden your terms and see if you can churn something else up that way.

5. Use quotes and author names to refine searches- if you find a really good quote on a topic- search to see if someone else has quoted it to respond or use it as evidence to support their own argument. Searching “hegemony khalilzad” you can find articles that are going to be more geared to the types of leadership arguments in debate than just searching for hegemony.

6. Avoid debate terminology- authors don’t write “prolif good” or “healthcare uniqueness”. You need to think about synonyms they would write instead of these terms and use them in your searches.

5 thoughts on “Basic Search terms

  1. gulakov

    Bing is also worth mentioning. It’s the new search engine Microsoft unveiled in June. What are its unique features?
    -proximity searches: “nuclear” near:5 “leadership”
    -search term grouping: (tactical nuclear weapons)
    -OR operators: leadership OR credibility OR influence

    On the other hand, the major features unique to Google are that you can limit searches to a specific date range and sort by date or relevance. I also like the “More text” option so I can get a larger preview. Click “Show options…” under the search box to enable this.

    You can also search Google and Bing at the same time with Bingle

  2. phantomoutlaw

    How do you know how many Google pages you should go through when it turns up hundreds of thousands of results?

  3. Nathan Ketsdever

    Its important to note that your search results for Google will likely show up different when you are logged in vs. when you are not logged in. This is due to the recent personalization of search that happened over (and around) the Thanksgiving holiday in 2009.

    Its also worth noting the add-on of “search suggest” which appears during your search string entry and in blue at bottom of searches. This is primarily only useful after you’ve exhausted other ideas–but still can provide you an idea of what others are searching. (for instance the search “causes of the recession” may yield slightly different variations which will yield better cards and research)

    Further, “Google options” which appears after you search can be helpful–particularly the Wonderwheel which subdivides your search by subject area can be helpful. This is attempt to create the next stage of search in terms of personalization and customization.

    Finally, the poverty search engine which was created by a debater at Liberty may prove helpful which searches a ton of advocacy groups and think tanks on the poverty issue. (sorry I don’t have the URL)

    In other news: the launch of Lazy feed is a powerful way to keep up on tags. Its not as robust as Google reader or Google alerts perhaps, but is an alternative for those who want a simpler interface. (it may throw a little of the baby out with the bathwater).

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