Does everyone think you're a computer guru--just because you can Google?

Does everyone think you're a computer guru–just because you can Google?

"How do I double click on something?"
"How do I double click on something?"
The World Wide Web, as opposed to ARPAnet, came into existence in 1991. Search engines have been there since the start.  Google has been around since 1998. That's eleven years, if you've been counting.

So why do so many people still know practically nothing about searching Google?

Here is a common (once a month?) question I hear from music fans:

Guy: Which site do you search for lyrics?

Me: All of them, just use Google.

Guy: Huh?

Me: Put the word 'lyrics' in your search and the song title in quotation marks. That way you'll get results from every lyrics site. They're all crap anyway (except for LyricWiki which will someday take over the world, but it's early days).

Guy: Why quotation marks?

Me: (Taken aback) B…b…because that's how you search for a phrase, instead of words that can appear jumbled up in any order.

Guy: Huh?

Me: You know the Advanced Search page on Google, right?

Guy: Um…

Me: It's right next to the search box! There are only three links there. [Note: They do their best to keep the front page uncluttered, keeping to a self-imposed 28 word limit.]

Guy: Oh right, I see it now…

And on we go.

Search engines have always had operators for complex searches, for example plus (+) and minus (-) to indicate which words are essential and which are to be excluded. There are variations in the conventions used by Yahoo!, MSN, eBay, Amazon, etc, but Google (as reigning Masters of the Universe) are the de facto standard these days.

List of search operators

And for the smug, sarcastic and patronising search expert, we can provide the answer to any facile question they're asked (say, "What is RSS anyway?") with a simple link like this one:

The site is called Let Me Google That For You  and it displays an animation which shows the poor unfortunate questioner how to use the interwebs. An interesting feature is the LMGTFY Live page, where you can see an updated list of current patronising links.