On Fri, 22 Jan 1999, Gray Kuglen wrote:

>
> Lastly, and I'm probably gonna get flack on this one, force feed them.
> On the search page do as much of the work for them as possible using
> drop down lists/menus, check boxes etc.. From my experience the general
> public has not caught on to Boolean Operators. If you give someone
> just a blank box, their gonna draw a blank.
>

I can't agree more on this point. There is little I hate more than
teaching people how to use boolean operators. Any why should they have to
learn how to use them?

This does not mean throwing out the ability to do boolean searches
however. For people who have the knowledge to construct accurate queries,
they are essential.

What I would recommend is providing multiple search mechanisms,
boolean searches being just one of them. It has been my experience that
people have very different ways of searching for items. The trick is to
identify the three or four methods that cover the majority of people.
These three methods should be significantly distince from one another. For
example: a boolean or keyword search, a topical hierarchal tree (like
yahoo uses), and a natural language query ('How many people live in Paris,
France?').

No one search method will ever be effective for all people; there are too
many variables: technical expertise, personality type, familiarity with a
given topic, etc.

Tony.


PS - Sorry if this diverges from the original topic.