Just saying that could probably have me sent to the Tower of London for treason. However there are good reasons for thinking that search isn’t all it could be (and it doesn’t just apply to Google).
Search engines tend to favour older information on the basis that it wouldn’t still be around if it wasn’t worthy. Fair enough, but that doesn’t take into account the vast swathes of abandoned information that is out of date.
Of more concern to me though is the problem diagnosis issue. If I want to find out why the PC no longer recognises the scanner in the printer for example, the first thing I do is a Google search. I tend to be quite specific with searches, particularly error messages and I usually get back some useful looking results. However my heart now sinks when I see that most of the results are from discussion forums. What often happens is that I click on one that looks closest to what I am trying to find, then trawl through several pages of discussion about the problem (which is often spot-on regarding my specific details) only to find two or three posts at the end saying something like “so has anyone found a solution to this problem yet”. There may be better search terms that I could use to improve my return but I haven’t found them yet, and I am wary of trying things like adding “solution” on the end because I don’t really think that is likely to improve things.
To say this is all Google’s fault is of course not entirely true. The real problem here is the lack of a semantic web which in theory would make finding solutions to particular problems much easier. However, the search engines claim to be improving the relevance of their results all the time (and of course the only reason they exist is to sell the sponsored listings for which they can command more money if search results are better).
What do you think? It there a better way of orgnaising/running forums that may help? Do you have some nifty search term tips that can filter out some of these circular journeys?
Please keep the conversation going with your comments here.