When to Ask - When to Google

I know people who will disagree—vehemently—with this statement, but Google is not the ultimate source of all knowledge in the universe.

Neither is Yahoo, nor Ask, nor Cuil.

What is the point of all this social networking if we are unable to tap that network for information from time to time? Sure, we can say “just fucking google it,” but can we always follow through?

When to Ask

“How do you spell ‘psychologist?'”

“Look it up in the dictionary.”

“If I could do that, I wouldn’t be asking.”

Sometimes you know so little about a subject that you don’t know how to form the question for Google. Dictionaries don’t help you spell.

In general, if you’re near someone who probably knows the answer: ask. If they know, you’ll get a more helpful, faster answer, and you can ask follow up questions.

Say, for example, you’re working on a project and are new to the language. If your colleagues have been around for a while, they probably know more than you. Ask away.

No harm in throwing a question to Twitter, either. You may not get an answer, but maybe you will. I once got a great answer from a follower before I got to page 2 of the Google search result. (Not to mention I was barking up the wrong tree with my search.)

When to Google

What if the person you ask doesn’t know?

Don’t make them do your googling for you.

If they don’t know, or can’t do more than point you in the right direction, you should be just as capable of looking things up for yourself. You’ll have to sort through some things, read a few pages that don’t help, but so would the person you asked. Don’t waste two people’s time.

If you do throw out a question on Twitter, or your prefered social network, don’t sit around and wait for an answer. You should be doing your own research. The network might not come up with anything.

People > Google

Yes, really. (No, not all of them.) Asking your network (people both physically or digitally accessible) will often yield better, faster results. But don’t belabor the point.

How long does it take to say “Anybody know…”?