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Anatoly Vorobey

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как искать информацию? [май. 7, 2013|10:07 pm]
Anatoly Vorobey
Написал подробный ответ на форуме lesswrong.com в дискуссии о том, как люди ищут информацию в сети. Скопирую сюда, но учтите, что это по-английски и в первую очередь касается поиска информации по-английски. Это мое представление о том, как примерно работает мой "алгоритм поиска"; весьма вероятно, что я не вспомнил какие-то важные пункты или источники, но в основном, думаю, не погрешил против истины. Если хотите поделиться своими "алгоритмами" поиска полезной информации или ответов на конкретные вопросы, добавить к моему, спросить или покритиковать - пожалуйста.

I think I do very different things based on what it is that I want to find out. Some of those things are (as a grab-bag of items with no claim to generality):

  • an initial Google search biased towards quickly landing on the relevant Wikipedia page. Whatever I want to find out, there's probably a Wikipedia page to give me rough initial context, and I have a vague idea what it should be called. If it's not on the first page of Google results, that by itself is a signal. Do I misunderstand the domain? Is it possible I'm misspelling or misremembering the key search terms, or they're ambiguous in ways I didn't consider? Maybe the domain is more obscure than I imagine and genuinely doesn't have a wiki page? Is my query too narrow? - try removing a word or two. Still nothing useful from wikipedia? - try adding site:wikipedia.org.

  • Assuming I found a useful WP page: scan it quickly, taking in familiar signals that hint at its quality. Does it look controversial, edit-warred? Is it a placeholder or a well-developed page? If something hints at controversy, scan the ToC of the Talk page (don't read through it all). Are there obviously useful outgoing links? - follow them now (I always open all links in new tabs with middle-click). Does it cite academic papers that look like they might answer my question? - open those links now.

  • if I had a wiki page to orient myself but still don't have an answer, I probably have a much better idea what to search for, and an understanding of how contentious the subject is (if at all). Things that are especially helpful to know at this point: 1) is there a rare word (usually a technical term) that very likely co-occurs with the answer I'm looking for? 2) is there a phrase that very likely occurs in the answer I'm looking for? 3) is it something likely to be in a printed book? 4) is it something likely to be in an academic paper?

  • go back to Google. Make a better query, using narrower, rarer words or phrases. Phrase search (with quotation marks) is especially helpful as it cuts away the junk results like nothing else. Often when I'm unsure how my ideal result would phrase my answer I'll quickly try several phrase searches in a row. Possibly do a Google Scholar search. Possibly do a Google Books search. In those two cases, again, phrase searches are very helpful. If the first result page doesn't have useful links, or even if it does but it looks like there may be more, keep in mind the possibility of paging more. I sometimes scan through 5-10 search pages quickly (just looking at titles/snippets) before giving up on a particular search query; that often helps with phrase searches.

  • if I don't have enough context: add "FAQ", "tutorial" etc. to search terms. Search for FAQs/tutorials in the field, if there're many, open a few, quickly scan to assess quality, find the best one, read it. Always keep an eye out for too-biased-PV signals.

  • suppose I found an academic article or a book search results that look like they might answer my question. See if I can find the actual texts of articles/links. Books may be free/largely previewable on Google Books. If they're really old, could also be in Gutenberg or on archive.org. Adding site:archive.org often helps (Google indexes ASCII versions of books stored there, but often doesn't rank them high). Academic articles: based on field, perhaps look in one of large repositories (arxiv pubmed etc.). If author likely to be alive, Google them, find their homepage, look for downloadable articles.

  • suppose I have an academic article(s)/book(s). Quickly scan the article or relevant chapters in the book. It doesn't have my answer and/or talks about something related but not quite what I need. Look into references for review articles. Make snap judgements based on titles of other articles in references whether they'll bring me closer. For every title I'm interested in, copy the title and open a tab with Google search on it to remember I want to find/scan it. Found a review article? Read it slowly and closely, find the right references, follow those; at the very least update my idea of the right search query.

  • am I looking for something I might've seen on some site or was probably discussed on some site? Use site: operator. E.g. if it's at all related to memes or discussions of everyday culture, search on site:reddit.com, make up likely phrase searches.

  • remember special repos of knowledge in particular fields that are better than WP. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. PlanetMath or Wolfram Alpha for math. Arxiv. Stackoverflow and its satellite network of other like sites. Probably lots more I'll remember in the time of need but can't think of right now.

  • is my question likely to be answered in a textbook and I know what kind of textbook or even the exact title? Use Google Books or [omitted] pirate sources to find textbooks and quickly scan them. Not sure if textbook is at all good? Scan its Amazon reviews, though remember it's alright for a good academic textbook to have just a handful of them. Possibly "search inside this book" on Amazon (rarely helped me). If looking for the right book in a field, use "also bought/also viewed" to quickly amass a list of candidates on Amazon, scan through reviews looking for the really helpful ones, they're easy to spot.

  • is my question likely to be answered/answerable on a forum? Use Google Groups search to mine Usenet (again, phrase search helps). Use really good forums you know and site:-search them (e.g. physicsforums.com for physics questions, pianoworld.com for anything piano-related. Consider actually posting a query to a forum if you know it's frequented by knowledegable friendly people.

  • What else? Google Images if you need to see how something might look. m-w.com as the first stop for English vocabulary, urbandictionary.com for modern slang, OED for serious dictionary-digging, analogues of all these in other languages. Google News search for anything might have been covered by mass media recently. NYTimes archive search for anything historical NYTimes might have written about.

[User Picture]From: liveuser
2013-05-07 09:28 pm
Я бы затруднился описать "паттерн поиска вообще" - по-моему, он сильно разнится от задачи к задаче.

Но да, основной принцип: "...I probably have a much better idea what to search for". Либо я уже знаю, на каких сайтах искать, либо начинаю с самого лобового запроса в Гугль-Яндекс, читаю одну-две-три страницы и начинаю оперировать обретенным знанием: или сдадут хороший сайт по теме, или разживусь специфичными терминами и станет ясно, как уточнять запрос. Иногда требуется несколько итераций.

Временами, правда, знание сайтов только вредит: я могу привычно пользоваться чем-то старым, а с тех пор появился источник получше.

Однако ищет, по-моему, все-таки не человек, а поисковик - чтобы искать хорошо, достаточно минимального опыта, причем, по-моему, этому редко можно научить (узнать пару десятков главных сайтов по разным темам, выучить site:, быстро оценивать качество сайта по сниппетам). Никакого особого поискового навыка и хитрого паттерна не существует: разница между обычным опытным пользователем и обладателем кубка Яндекса по поиску очень мала.

Свое ноу-хау упомяну: у меня в "keyword searches" (они действительно очень полезны) забиты два принципиально разных Гугля:
g - региональный гугль (google.ru/#q=%s&hl=ru), для поиска в Рунете,
gg - условно общемировой google.com/intl/en/#hl=en&q=%s, для поиска в мире.

Edited at 2013-05-07 21:28 (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: lisany
2013-05-07 09:34 pm
Интересно, что вариант подумать, кого я знаю, кто может знать ответ или где посмотреть, отсутствует.
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[User Picture]From: a_bronx
2013-05-09 07:28 am
Такой вариант -- признак лени и беспомощности.

Edited at 2013-05-09 07:29 (UTC)
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From: gieffeffe
2013-05-07 10:00 pm
Я обычно добавляю к запросу слово "вики", чтобы первая ссылка вела на википедию.
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[User Picture]From: bortans
2013-05-07 10:14 pm
Кроме фраз и кавычек, добавление минуса перед словом в поисковой строке часто помогает убрать много явно ненужных результатов.
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[User Picture]From: oxfv
2013-05-08 05:57 am
Don't underestimate the power of images. Google image search often explains a weird animal or a mechanical part or even an emotion much better and quicker then dictionary/wiki. Also helps in finding really good but obscure resources on weird subjects (case in point: "impossible bottle"). Took me about 10 seconds to find the site for the construction going on across the street from my office because I remembered the poster on the construction fence.

Google "define:word" for dictionary, it is sufficient in 99% of the cases.

Youtube search is often helpful for tutorials (like laptop disassembly or motor repair).
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[User Picture]From: grey_horse
2013-05-08 09:56 am
Я одно время увлекался StumbleUpon'ом. Он не дает ответов на конкретные вопросы, но при запросе "вообще что-нибудь интересненькое" может быть полезен.
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[User Picture]From: migmit
2013-05-08 12:25 pm
Если автор статьи жив, то вполне можно написать ему и попросить электронную копию. У меня пока осечек не было.
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[User Picture]From: Michael Moser
2013-05-09 09:56 am

more on search

Иногда статья что выдает http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/index бывает платная, но в таком случае можно искать название статьи по гуглу; авторы свежих статей как правило вывешивают свои произведения на домашней странице
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[User Picture]From: Michael Moser
2013-05-09 09:59 am

even more...

Иногда когда знаешь чего искать то поиск фразы (т.е. длинное название в кавычках) помогает.
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