Fact-Testing On the Britannica Blog: Analyzing Internet Search Skills

Matthew Tabor, education, School Issues, News, Aug 13, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In a recent Britannica Blog post contributor Gregory McNamee advised, "Trust not the first answer the search engine turns up." Not because the first result is usually an ad - I assume he meant the first reault after the ad. But because "it will usually be wrong or, if not outright wrong, not the answer you really need." This, of course, is nonsense - the first results are often useful. Search for me, for example. But McNamee adds, "too few students know even to go beyond the first couple of hits that come back from a Google search." Is this true? This article checks the facts - and it turns out that while most users (62 percent) don't look past the first page of results, the overwhelming majority (82 percent) attempt to refine their search - a rather sophisticated strategy, I would say.
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