One of the biggest complaints I hear from fellow costumers are e-mails and messages from strangers asking for step-by-step instructions on how to make something, when the answer is usually easily available online. Rather than believe that people are inherently lazy, I’m going to go with the idea that instead, people just haven’t been taught how to search the internet properly. Since this is part of what I do for a living, I thought I would make this week’s #TipTuesday about the topic. And if you have a favorite resource, please share it in the comments, so other people can bookmark them! :)
adapted from CommandParners.com
Google holds between 60 and 70% of the market share when it comes to online searches, but Bing sits pretty solidly in the Number Two position. On the surface, they seem to do the same job, but what matters to one doesn’t always matter to the other, so choose the right search engine based on what you’re looking for.
Google responds better to text based content and descriptions for images, whereas Bing does a better job of understanding images (it’s “entity understanding” algorithm can interpret if what you’re looking for is a person, place, or thing and show image results more effectively).
Google is a bit better at deciphering the context of a site, while Bing really prefers direct keywords – in other words, Google should be able to figure out your secret identity is Clark Kent, while Bing really needs you to take off the glasses and say it out loud.
While both sites take the relevancy of social media into account, Bing does a little bit better job of it. (That means you’ll also get more distractions as you search, so take a deep breath and don’t cave into the meme).
While it’s always smart to check with the big boys first, don’t ignore specialty sites when you are trying to track down information. YouTube has been cited as the second largest search engine in the world, based on the sheer number of searches it performs per month, so if you’re looking for video content, it should really be your first stop. YouTube is really awesome for cosplay tutorials, by the way, and should be one of the first places you search, followed by DeviantArt and Tumblr.
Like many stories sometimes you just need the magic words to have a happy ending. If your first search doesn’t work out, try some synonyms, like “journalist” instead of “reporter”. Simple, short keywords will usually give you the broadest results, and then you can get more specific by adding more terms. You also need to think a bit like a search engine, and how what you’re looking for might appear on a website - “hurt knee” might be better phrased as “knee pain”.
You’ll also notice that Google likes to guess what you’re looking for, if they think you’ve misspelled it. “Mn of Stel” will show you results for “Man of Steel” first, but still allow you the option of seeing if you’re actually trying to find something in Minnesota. Be sure to watch as Google tries to offer suggestions based on what you’re typing - sometimes this can lead you right where you need to be.
Be sure to use the additional tools and tabs the search engines provide - it allows you to sort your results into categories like Images, News, Videos and more. Sorting by date range can be a huge help if you’re trying to find the most current information on a topic, or trying to find the best deal on a new Fortress of Solitude.
And finally, when you get your results, don’t be afraid to dig back a few pages to find what you’re looking for. We would all love our answer to be right in front of us after the first pass, but you might not be searching for the right thing, and that extra view or two of your results might land you your answer quicker than you thought.
When was the last time you used a search modifier when you were on Google? A modifier is a special term or character that will allow your search results to zero in on your target faster, leaving you even more time to save the world, but many people don’t realize they exist (or even how many), and end up with results vaguely related to their topic, rather than the exact match they’re hoping for. Here’s how to level up on your search, using these common super-powered helpers:
“exact match” Use quotations around a phrase you’re searching for, to find an exact match. (“Fortress of Solitude”)
-word Use a hyphen in front of a word if you want to exclude it from results. (ex - Superman -Batman)
* Use an asterisk if you need help filling in the blanks (ex - Jimmy * Blues)
OR Use a capitalized OR to find pages with one of several words (ex - superhero 1945 OR 1985)
site: Precede your query with this if you know the site you want results from (ex - .edu, abc.com)
filetype: Search for specific types of files, such as PDFs, PPTs, or XLS.
related: Use this in front of a site name if you’re looking for sites with similar content (ex - related:DCComics.com)
intitle: Refine your search to only pages that have your query within their title. (ex - infile:superman )
zip code Add a zip code if you’re looking for something in a particular place (ex - newspaper 62960)
And don’t be afraid to combine them!
It’s not that other costumers don’t want to help you, but cosplay is as much about the journey as it is the final result. The resources exist out there, and many of us have shared what we’ve learned on our blogs, in forums, or even in the albums here on Facebook of costumes we’ve created, so be sure to look around a bit before asking (otherwise you’re likely to get a link to lmgtfy.com) Here’s a tip on courtesy, though:
DO NOT ASK: “How would you make this and where would you buy everything and what pattern would you use and could you find it cheaper for me?”
TRY: “Hey, I saw you made a ___________ costume, and I love how it came out. I want to make a similar cape, and I found this tutorial <link>…is this similar to what you did? Any additional tips would be great!”
Search engines have billions of pages indexed all across the web, but unless you know how to look them up, it’s like a book with no table of contents, chapters, paragraphs, or even punctuation. Using tips like the ones listed will help you find what you’re after faster than any speeding bullet, and you’ll come out of more powerful than the biggest locomotive.