Some personal evaluation is always
required. There are many search engines out there, and more are added
each day. The first question youíll face is which one to use. Each has a
benefit, each has deficiencies. You will quickly find out which ones you
like the best after searching through endless search results. Google.com
for example is a great general search engine, it will find most concepts
and pages that explain what you need to know, you may find some guys
page in Amsterdam that briefly comments on your topic as well but the
top ten results are usually pretty accurate. Iíll get to how to use
Google.com and other pages more efficiently later in this article.
Wikipedia.org is another great website for looking up factual data only.
If you have a question about the Russian revolution, or what bacteria
are, hereís where youíll find your answer. Which site you end up using
consistently is up to you, next Iíll tell you which sites not to use.
We all know that the internet is filled
with both useful data and useless data, most of us know it is also full
of harmful data. Many websites will place trojans, worms, and viruses on
your computer if you let them. Stay away from illegal downloads, porn
and extreme violence and you should be safe, but there are some of these
concerns with search engines as well. Some things to avoid:
If you get more than the occasional
popup, dump that site. One popup every other visit or so is probably
just a way for the site creator to make some cash, no harm in that. Some
sites however flood your screen with multiple popups, or one every time
you click anything. These sites may be flooding you in hopes of you
accidentally clicking the wrong thing at the wrong time and downloading
something nasty. You may not even know itís there, but they do and
whatever theyíre doing it canít be good for you.
If the results come back as porn, no
matter what you search for, you donít want that, well maybe you do.
The last type of site I suggest you
avoid are sites such as askjeeves.com, these sites are quality sites in
that they donít have malicious intents. If you use the tips Iíll show
you next, you just wonít have a use for sites like askjeeves.com.
AskJeeves.com uses other search engines and finds results for you. A
great idea for those who are inadequate at searching for themselves, and
there is no shame in that, most people are like that. You will no longer
need this feature as you will be an expert searcher in a couple more
There are a number of techniques that I
use quite successfully to find information, and none of them include
breaking thumbs or knees.
The first is put your search in quotes
(or search for the exact phrase). You may not get any hits at all, but
if you get some they should pretty much be exactly what youíre looking
for. Of course this tip wonít always be useful, especially if youíre
searching for a single word. If Iím searching for something specific,
like ďmy hard drive is making noiseĒ, I always search for the phrase I
want in quotes first. If that doesnít work I either remove the quotes,
or shorten the phrase. Results typically include message boards when you
search with quotes, but they are a great source of information, links
Message boards are fantastic, youíll
often be able to find someone who had the same problem, or wanted the
same information as you, but he posted a question three months ago and
now there are ten answers. You get the same information as him, but now,
not in three months. Often message boards will have links to sites that
answer your question as well, that way you donít have to rely on
trusting some guy on the internet, like me.
Think outside the box when entering
your search terms. Try the obvious first, but if you find yourself
stumped, expand your search to include things that are related to what
you want to know. For example if youíre interested in knowing more about
General Lee, but all you can find when you search for it is the Dukes of
Hazard, try searching for the Civil War, or army generals. This is the
single most important skill to have when searching for obscure
The easiest way to search for something
is to let someone else search for it. There are sites such as
askipedia.com that will do this for free. It wonít be as quick as doing
it yourself, they have a 24 hour guarantee, but it will be much easier.
You wonít have to do much work at all, and they may come up with better
Practice makes perfect so get out there
and experiment. Search of a specific topic and see how many different
searches will return the same results, youíll be surprised.