Verbatim at Google

Tara Calishain has discovered that Google’s search feature – verbatim – (find this under Tools > All results) – the one by which Google is expected to look for each word exactly and return only those pages with those words – doesn’t conform.

Google Has a Weird Definition of Verbatim, Research Buzz (Jan 2)

She wrote – “Google’s Help page explains the Verbatim option very simply: ” Search for exact words or phrases.” I had always taken that to mean that if you search for a particular set of keywords, a Verbatim search will search for all those keywords in the way you’ve expressed them.” That’s what I thought too – but Google takes liberties with the search query and will drop a term if it can’t be found. I am once again disappointed in Google but not surprised.

Checking Facts

The Internet gets more perilous by the day – fake news, viruses and malware, identity theft. Helen Brown has common-sense advice to all users – and especially professional researchers – on what and how to vet what you find. I especially agree with “use sites that are known for their reliability”, but do a fact check on them too. The recommendations for further reading are excellent.

You got played. I got played. We all got played. Helen Brown Group (Dec 8)

Searching for Emojis

Dan Russell at SearchResearch had a series of challenges on finding emoji and unicode characters –  what they are, how to do it, and why you would want to.

  1. The background – #900 – A note about how to search for emojis and other Unicode characters
  2. The challenge – Finding interesting uses for unicode/emoji search?
  3. The answer – Answer: Finding interesting uses for emoji/Unicode search?

All interesting.

Genealogy and Google’s Advanced Search

Genealogy researchers need to use advanced search techniques. Blogging gurus in this field sometimes offer guidance in using search operators. Dick Eastman has posted (+) Boolean Basics – Part #2 in which he shows the use of the NOT operator ( – sign) to exclude, and quotation marks to look for phrases. He illustrates with several well developed queries showing OR and AND (although Google defaults to ANDing terms).

Please note: The use of + to require a term no longer applies – does not work – can accomplish the same thing by putting the word inside quotation marks, otherwise use Verbatim found under Search Tools > All Results.

As well, there is the number range operator which is extremely useful when  looking for events between dates. Format is nn..nn. Example: immigration “canada west” 1843..1853″ – to get pages that talk about immigration to Canada West and have a date within the range of 1843 to 1853. Since Upper Canada was also still being used in reference, could form the query as immigration (“canada west” OR “upper canada”) 1843..1853″

How to Prospect Research

Looking for training in researching prospective donors as part of prospect development? Helen Brown of the Helen Brown Group has several leads in her posting Expanding Your Prospect Research Horizons (Oct 27) that includes websites, the APRA association, and books.

Of particular interest to Canadians she notes a new book, Prospect Research in Canada.

Most excitingly, our cousins up North have just released a brand new book called Prospect Research in Canada! Edited by Tracey Church and Liz Rejman, two leaders (and forces of nature!) in our field, the book features expert authors taking a soup-to-nuts overview of fundraising research with a special focus on – but not limiting themselves solely to – Canada.

Boolean Strings for Searchers

Sharpen your search skills by following Boolean Strings, a blog on search strategies and tools by Irina Shamaeva. Her field is recruiting and sourcing: She is partner and chief sourcer at Brain Grain Recruiting; and she shares her search expertise through the blog and her book, 300 Best Boolean Strings. it’s not all about queries using AND, OR, NOT – she presents strategies and specific constructions at various sources for more exact searches. She shows how to use advanced search syntax effectively, and has developed a few Custom Search Engines at Google.

Boolean Strings was recently reviewed in the September 2016 issue of the BestBizWeb eNewsletter. Robert Berkman wrote, “In fact, it’s one of the most interesting and unusual blogs we’ve come across in a long time. It’s a great resource with lots of very smart research strategies, and is useful for beginners and advanced searchers alike.”

Lisa Louise Cooke Search Tip

Lisa Louise Cooke has a new tech-tip video for genealogists – Speak Google’s Language: Google Search Operator Basics. Many will know these two tips – using quotation marks and using OR – but Cooke’s explanations are elegantly simple and enjoyable. Where I would have been tempted to talk about building up concepts, she keeps it very simple by showing how to use OR to search on two formats for a person’s name.   The book she mentions (in her store) is one of the best guides to using Google I have ever come across.

Dealing with null results

Love this line from Greg Notess’ article Tips for Avoiding, or Celebrating, Zero Search Results in Information Today — “Only librarians like to search; everyone else likes to find”.

Notess examines the reasons for and the significance of a null set of results. Mostly, searchers need to know the structure and scope of the database; literary and academic databases are much different than Google; specialty searches such as for patents take special skills.

Researching ancestors through other people

Information about an ancestor might be uncovered by searching for people who lived nearby. Amy Johnson Crow recommends this technique in a recent posting – How to Find Your Ancestor by Researching Other People (Sept 15). Sources might be census records, marriage certificates, wills, directories.

Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. They had extended family members, neighbors, business contacts, friends, and maybe an enemy or two. (Elizabeth Shown Mills refers to these “other” people as a person’s FAN club — friends, associates, and neighbors.)