This topic has become huge. It's a cliche that as our collective
information repositories, ('net based or not), grow exponentially,
our ability to seek, sort and create valuable information from the
Data Deluge has not kept up. So what can you, Joe Searcher, possibly
expect to find? Maybe step one is not to worry about it too much.
After all, to once again abuse the Rolling Stones metaphor... you
might not always be able to find what you want, but if you try sometimes,
you might find what you need. So, now that you're relaxed and receptive
to some thoughts on search, here's some quick ideas on what you
Widen Your Skills: It'll Save You Time
Most people are at best crude in their search methods. You don't
have to study library science or information resources management
to pick up some simple basics. Learning just a little bit more
than average about the search tools available can help. Find the
"advanced" section on your favorite search engine. You
don't necessarily have to become a boolean expert, (using operators
like and/or/not, etc), to get at least somewhat better results
than the norm. Many search engines have a lot of these options
in simplified fill-in-the-blank or clickable forms. Add 30 - 60
minutes with the help section, invested one time. This will likely
save you five minutes here and there hundreds of times. As an
added bonus, you're more likely to find what you seek.
Narrow Your Search: Add Some to Get Less
The vast majority of people type one word into most search query
boxes. That's fine if you want to cast a very wide net. (semi-bad
pun.) But most of the time, you can probably do better by narrowing
just a little bit. You can most frequently narrow a search by
simply adding another key word to your search. Start with a single
word if you like, but try narrowing with additional keywords.
You're looking for results that are both relevant and directly
pertinent for your search. Not just anything that happens to match.
After all, typing in "cancer" is as likely to get you
astrological information as well as medical oncology information,
besides the fact that the oncology version of "cancer"
alone is a rather wide field in any case. Is cricket a bug or
an English field game? You get the idea.
These two simple ideas above can go a long way towards greater
success in your search efforts. I may add some more advanced sections
later if it looks like people are using this page. There's obviously
a lot more to this topic.