Related link: www.google.com
A friend and I had an interesting conversation the other day. It turns out that both of us think that, in general, searching the internet for high quality partially specified information is harder than it was a couple of years ago. Putting that into English: We use search engines less, and are more frustrated when we use them. In particular, I find Google frustrating these days– with the exception of the cases noted below, I always wind up making three or four searches to find anything (not “looking at three or four results” — “making three or four searches”).
So we both use search engines less. And we’re both building lists of “reliable sites” (frequently weblogs) that we read regularly, and decreasing our reliance on search engines these days.
Of course, there are lots of useful cases where the internet has gotten easier to search. Here’s, for example, are two searches I make all the time:
- Want to find something that you know is on MSDN? Use Google with MSDN as a keyword string. It’s wonderful. Google indexes MSDN much better than Microsoft does (which might well explain Microsoft’s recent efforts. In general, if you know enough details about the thing you’re looking for, and there’s a single canonical result, most search engines do fine.
- If you know the Java class name, the easiest way to pull up the javadocs for the class is often to use google with three keywords: “java”, “class” and the actual classname.
But, in general, I’ve felt that things have slid backwards in the past year (in fact, Seruku grew out of personal frustration). And I’ve been noticing that other people are starting to voice the same opinion.
And what I’m wondering is:
Is this really true? Is it getting harder to find things on the web? Are search engines really getting more frustrating?
The reason I’m asking is, of course, that it’s entirely possible that I might simply be spoiled. Since the conversation I mentioned above, I’ve asked 13 more people. 9 agreed with me; 3 think the quality of search engines has held constant, and 1 thinks that things have improved in the last year.
But that’s my circle of acquaintances. I’m still not sure what’s really going on in the wider world.
What do you think? How has your “search engine experience” changed in the past year?