As many of the loyal FOT readers know, I frequent the ERE forums and pass out advice on building strings, creating sourcing strategy and just about anything I’m feeling reasonably brilliant about on an any given day.
I may have even mentioned that the AIRS forums now exist for alumni so that we can further chat about search strings, XRays, FlipSearches and the like. But, I wonder as I write string and as I talk to our Trainers, who are some of the most amazing string writers I’ve ever had the honor to work with, is your string dating you?
Do you look like a dinosaur because of your string writing? Are you trying to look like an über sleuther using symbols that don’t matter?
I’ve noticed I’ve had some pseudo über sleuths tailing behind me on my posts, trying to look all tripped out with the pipe symbol (|) and various other symbols in their string. If I were hiring a sourcer and they gave me a sample string (because I would ask for one in the interview process…) and it included the pipe symbol – well, I’d want to know if they could explain boolean string structure and justify using the pipe symbol in the present day. And let’s just confirm that I’m not a dinosaur – but the Internet is a quickly changing medium and I want somebody who really knows how to build killer effective and efficient string.
Seriously, are you using the “|” to feel like a super tricked out über sleuther? Let’s review the history on that particular symbol – first – it originated on Google. Second – it truly was useful “back in the day” and for those of us over 30, well let’s just say we know what “back in the day” of Internet sourcing means – that’s like early 2000-2001. Word is, from the historians of search, that the pipe symbol was functional on Google back then, when “OR” wasn’t recognized by the engine in a boolean string. Now, in present day search, are you a hacker if you use the | symbol instead of “OR”?
Uh, no, you’re not. You’re someone using outdated string operators to build a string that will work pretty much on Google alone.
So, here’s my point – if you are going to spend your precious recruiting and sourcing time building string, wouldn’t you really like it to span multiple search engines instead of having to tweak it every time you run it? Well, then build string with “OR” and skip the | symbol.
Want to work on a sample together? Drop me a line, Tweet me, or better yet, if you’re already an Alum, visit me in the Forums…
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.