... why a particular page might be difficult to find. Sometimes your memory is just plain wrong; sometimes your memory is so generic as to not remember anything that would let you pick the right page out of thousands of similar pages; sometimes the page is really missing (that is, a 404 error--web page missing).
1. A while ago I remember reading an article about a famous US author that was having some difficulty editing his own Wikipedia page. As crazy as it sounds, they wanted to have independent verification of what he was saying. I found myself wanting to re-read that article so I could refer to it in my writing. I needed to find it to confirm details. This was my Challenge:
Who was the famous US author that was involved in a dispute with Wikipedia over the accuracy of the entry describing his novel?
I had a very clear memory of this article, but I couldn't remember where I read it. You might think that the obvious query is something like:
[ Wikipedia author article challenge ]
(or something similar). The problem is that the query isn't specific enough--there are a LOT of web pages with these terms, so the results are pretty scattered--they didn't help me find what I'm looking for. We have to find a way to change the query:
Notice that small MINUS sign (aka a hypen) in front of the site: operator. That means to search everywhere on the web, but NOT on this site.
When I do this search, my SERP looks like this:
See that 4th result? (The one at the bottom of this image.) This is exactly what I was looking for--a famous US author (Philip Roth) who was in a dispute with Wikipedia over the accuracy of the entry describing one of his novels. As Roth wrote in his open letter to Wikipedia, he was told that "...I, Roth, was not a credible source: 'I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work,' writes the Wikipedia Administrator – 'but we require secondary sources.'" This dispute went on for a while, and to their credit, Wikipedia repaired the entry, and it stands as an accurate source of information about Roth and his work.
Other approaches work too. Reader SpiritualLadder found the answer with the query:
[ dispute with author over book Wikipedia entry ]
And D. Lazar found it with:
[ author dispute wikipedia ]
I tried a few other queries like this (that is, without the site:) and found it to be pretty hit or miss. If you managed to guess the right words, you'd find the article. Using the -site: operator gets you to the result pretty quickly.
Several readers also found their way to the Wikipedia List of Controversies page (which is pretty interesting reading), and then found the article about Philip Roth on that page.
|A black racer rising up out of the grass. |
Thanks & P/C Continis on Flickr.
2. See that image above? That's a black racer snake. I happened to see one the other day, and I remembered from previous reading that the state of New Jersey had a few articles about snakes in their state, and I remember one about black racers in particular.
Can you help my fading memory and find an article about the black racer snake that’s published by the state of New Jersey as part of their educational outreach program?