Queries are essentially a list of search terms or words that you use to find the information you are looking for. You can combine your words with operators to indicate whether you would like all the words (AND), either of the words (OR) or none of the words (NOT). Digimind also offers more sophisticated operators to help you get more precise results. For a full is list of these operators and how to use them, please follow this link.
Software and Humans
Computers, software and robots have been programmed to understand and treat information in a certain way.
People are more flexible and interact with what they see. We rely on unspoken messages and meanings to catch the sense behind what other people say to us.
The two communicate to each other through the query. A person explains to the software what kind of information he/she would like to have. The software reacts to this, following the instructions to the letter and brings back corresponding information. Oftentimes when we don’t get what we wanted it’s only because we didn’t ask for it in the right way for the software to fully understand.
AND / OR
Part of understanding and being able to work with any information you collect is seeing the link between what you requested in the query and what you have got back. Proficient users of search engines and monitoring tools become expert query writers because they see the relationship between their query and the results.
It is therefore crucial to understand how Digimind (and any other search engine or monitoring tool) will react to queries that contain more than one word. If my query is cloud I can expect to have information that contains the word cloud. But if my query is cloud computing, can I expect to have information that contains the word cloud and information that contains the word computing, or will I only get information that contains both the words cloud and computing? Anybody who has ever prepared a query has at some point asked themselves this question. Adding in the ANDs and the ORs between the words in the query eliminates this lingering doubt.
Capitals for Operators and Words
At Digimind we prepare our queries with the operators in upper-case letters. Although this has no impact at all on how the software reads and understand the query, it makes a big different to the human users. Rereading a long list of words (queries for Digimind agents can be as long as 7,000 characters) becomes easier on the eye and the brain if the operators are systematically in upper-case, leaving the other words in lower-case.
What about those words that should always start with an upper-case letter – proper nouns? Digimind has no preference for capital letters and does not take them into account when searching for or filtering information with a query. As a result, the human user is entirely free to decide. If seeing a proper noun without an upper-case letter is a source of annoyance or stress for you, it’s probably best to write these words with a capital letter at the start. If you don’t mind, then you can write the whole word in lower-case letters.
Search and Monitor
Depending on how and where you are using your query, it will act in different ways.
For a search, the query will bring back information that matches the query. For monitoring, the query will act as a filter and only allow in information that matches the query. Although this sounds the same, the effects are different.
Search = Find
Running a search without a query will generate no information at all. The query is used to find information.
Monitor = Filter
On the other hand, an agent that runs without a query will bring back all the new information from the site or sites it monitors. The query is used to filter the information.
The search engines and monitoring tools understand this naturally and get on with the job, adapting the same query to the task in hand. As human users, we sometimes need to remember, and remind others, about the difference.