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Q: Searching the internet for procedures ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Searching the internet for procedures
Category: Reference, Education and News > Teaching and Research
Asked by: bstone2008-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 07 Oct 2005 12:35 PDT
Expires: 06 Nov 2005 11:35 PST
Question ID: 577657
Say I want to compile all the ways to build a birdhouse.  How do I
search the Internet for "birdhouse-building procedures, methods and
How-Tos?"  The procedures, methods and How-Tos I'm interested in are
the actual steps needed to build a birdhouse (in this example).  Note:
 I just mentioned the birdhouse building as an example.  Please don't
answer this with a list of birdhouse procedures, but rather with the
search methodology to find procedures or How-Tos on any desired topic.

Thanks very much in advance.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 07 Oct 2005 12:40 PDT

Have a look at these search results:


If they look good to you (for birdhouses, anyway), then I'l  post an
answer explaining the details of the search, and how to modify it for
other topics.

And if it doesn't look so good to you, please let us know why.



Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 07 Oct 2005 12:43 PDT
Here's another one to look at as well:

Subject: Re: Searching the internet for procedures
Answered By: czh-ga on 07 Oct 2005 14:18 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello bstone2008-ga,

What a fun question! It?s interesting to be challenged to describe the
?how to? of ?how to search.? Here are several approaches that might be
appropriate in various search situations.

Before you start, I suggest that you set your Preferences to Number of
Results = 100. I find that the ability to quickly scroll through a
large collection of results will give you instant feedback on whether
you?re on the right track or not.

Next, throughout my answer I?ll be using your example of building bird
houses with the assumption that you can substitute whatever skill,
subject or topic you want for your other searches. I?ll use ?how to
plan a birthday party? as an example.

Search engines have developed through the years and natural language
searching has gotten quite good. Using a natural language search
frequently will give you exactly what you want.

SEARCH TERM: how to build a bird house OR how to plan a birthday party


A quick scroll through the results shows lots of sites that would
answer the question. If you want additional or different results, you
could take an approach of starting with a very broad search and then
narrowing it down with modifiers. This is especially useful when
researching obscure subjects.

SEARCH TERM: bird house OR birthday parties


You get lots of results and some of them even relate to your ?how to?
question. This kind of broad-based search will frequently give you
ideas about what vocabulary might be useful for your search. Usually
you will get lots of hits that offer products and services related to
your topic. Sometimes you come up with the names of schools,
associations or organizations that care about the subject. These might
be very useful, depending on why you are looking for the ?how to?

If the results are too diffuse and don?t give you what you need, the
next step is to start narrowing down the results by adding search
terms that will focus the results to your objectives. You now add the
most obvious modifiers and enclose phrases in quotes so they will be
treated as a single term. You also drop irrelevant words.

SEARCH TERM: ?how to? build ?bird houses? OR ?how to? plan ?birthday party?



You can see that the results are much more focused. Once you get more
familiar with searching, you might want to start with using phrases
like this.

Building bird houses or planning birthday parties are popular subjects
and there are lots of resources. You may have to broaden the search
when the results are less satisfying. If this is the case, you want to
include search terms that give alternative terms for what you?re
trying to do. You want to use additional terms for ?how to? as well as
for ?build.? You can use these alternate terms by substituting them in
the original search. Alternately, you can consolidate many of these
alternate terms by using OR (in capitals) between the synonyms. This
way all of the alternate terms will be considered in the same search.

?how to? OR instructions build ?bird houses? 
?how to? OR instructions plan ?birthday party?




procedures OR methods OR directions OR instructions build OR make OR
?steps for? ?bird houses?
procedures OR methods OR directions OR instructions plan OR design OR
organize ?birthday party?



As you can see, the results will be in the ballpark but the emphasis
will vary depending on the particular sequence of words and phrases.
As you get more experienced with using these techniques, you will get
a feel for how to compose your searches on your topics of interest.
Searching is more an art than a science ? especially because what you
already know has a great deal to do with how you define the search and
evaluate the results.

In addition to using these techniques for searching, it is also useful
to consider who else is interested in your subject and is it likely
that someone else has already collected the information into a
directory, portal or megasite. Directories are especially worth
checking for.


SEARCH TERM: bird house OR birthday party planning



Finally, there are some website that are dedicated to ?how to?
instructions. They cover a limited number of topics but can be very
useful. You can also look for specialized ?how to? guides for specific
topics, industries, or skills.

SEARCH TERM: ?how to? OR "how to instructions OR guides"


RESULTS: - Clear Instructions on How To Do (just about) Everything

The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit

The Web's biggest how-to directory!


Happy searching~

~ czh ~

Clarification of Answer by czh-ga on 07 Oct 2005 15:02 PDT
Ooops. That last search should have been: "how to" "instructions OR guides"

bstone2008-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thank you.

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