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2005 Jan 13 15:31

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Re: [vox-tech] [help@google.com: Re: [#19464334] Searching fordotfiles]
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Re: [vox-tech] [help@google.com: Re: [#19464334] Searching fordotfiles]

On Thu, 13 Jan 2005, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:

> On Thu 13 Jan 05, 12:42 PM, Mark K. Kim <lugod@cbreak.org> said:
[quotes trimmed - getting way too long!]
> > Most dotfile has a corresponding /etc file with same syntax so...
> Yes, but I don't care about /etc/application/2.1.5/config/.dotfile.  I care
> about:
>    .dotfile
> > should Google allow dotfile searches specifically for unix users but not
> > their global equivalents?
> Yes.  Because if anybody wants information on ".vimrc", they'll search for
> ".vimrc".  If they want to search for /etc/vimrc, they'll search for
> "vimrc".

The syntax for /etc/vimrc (or more accurately, /usr/share/vim/.../vimrc)
is same as that of ~/etc/.vimrc.  So why would one be motivated to search
for .vimrc when one simply wants to find out the syntax of vimrc files in
general?  In such scenario, the search engine dropping the dot is the
right behavior.  The only scenario I can think of where searching
specifically for ".vimrc" is more desirable over "vimrc" is if "vimrc"
isn't searchable, making ".vimrc" the more appealing search term, which is
the case for ".forward" because "forward" is a generic English term.

But let's look at the statistics.  How many dotfiles do you know that
isn't searchable besides .forward because it conflicts with another, more
popular or broader, term?  Just go ahead and check your home directory.
Knowing this statistics, can a gigantic search engine like Google (or any
generic search engine) justify making an exception for such class of

More importantly, how many dotfiles are absolutely unsearchable with some
decent phrase combination?  .forward can be searched with "forward unix
email", and it does come up on the first search.  (Or, to search for the
original question of forwarding to multiple addresses, "forward unix email
multiple addresses") and the result comes out on top.

If Google started making exceptions for everything, it really is going to
slow it down for everone.  And remember Google has to make these
exceptions for the googols of searches it really does to every day.  Each
exception should be justified, and in my opinion, dotfiles isn't

> > I don't think a generic search engine like Google should be that specific.
> I'm simply advocating returning searches for "foo" if you ask for "foo".
> How is that specific?

Then it should make that exception for every word, not just for dotfiles.
But as they explained, doing that is too much for Google.  And as I
mentioned in an earlier e-mail, making an exception for all words with
punctuation in front of the word has some problems as well.

> Besides, the Google people are smart.  I'm sure they'd be able to make
> dotfiles searchable if they put their minds to it!

I'm sure they can.  But as above, it has to be justifiable.  In my
opinion, it's not.

> > It's up to the person doing the search to use the right keywords:
> >
> >    forward unix email
> Perhaps.  Good point.  But "forward unix email" isn't quite what a person
> searching for information on ".forward" is looking for.  Results can range
> anywhere from exactly what the person wants to configuring sendmail.

Yes, but the right query will bring the right page to the top.


Mark K. Kim
AIM: markus kimius
Homepage: http://www.cbreak.org/
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