Urban Generation

Some things are difficult to search for on the internet. The best trick to use for finding things on the internet is to think in your mind of an exclusive sentence that is only relevant for the thing your searching for. This is harder than it seems but with a bit of practice you will find that you drastically improve the results of the thing that you’re searching for.

But some things are hard to look for. There are generally two reasons for this. One is that although your question is about something specific the specific thing shares a name with something common. Say for example you have a question about the html tag “table” well typing in table alone is no good, you have to type in html because other wise you get lots of information about the kind of tables that you sit at. But what if the modifier word is also a common word?

The second type of problem case is when you are researching something that nobody has ever researched before. If it’s something obscure then you are in luck. There are very very few truly original ideas that somebody hasn’t written about before on the internet. But if it’s about a common thing then it’s hard to write a question that lets you find the one article.

I was faced with this problem the other day. I had this strange feeling based on some information that I wasn’t sure about that it was a bad idea to take cans of soft drink (like Coke, Dr Peppers etc) in and out of the fridge once they had become cold. I couldn’t for the life of me think why this would be a problem, but I had this information in my mind. I came to the conclusion after some time that this was a rumour I had debunked a few years ago without checking any facts. The person who asked me probably left the conversation reassured after having asked Alex that it wasn’t a problem, and now years later it had come back to haunt me.

Luckily Yahoo Answers now has, erm, the answer because real people will answer your question for free on the internet. It’s all very useful. And I might even ask this question on there, although now my brain has clicked back in I’m pretty sure that it can’t be a problem. I have a nagging thought that condensation could be part of a counter answer. But I can’t rationally think how this would work.

Anyway, now that Yahoo Answers exists let me let you in on a little secret hack that you could have used in the old days if you needed the answer and couldn’t find it on a search engine. It would take a moment or two but in a bind it might be worth it. All you need to do is create an urban legend about your question. So in this example you would create an e-mail like this:

Dear friend,

Unless you forward this e-mail to your 5 best friends they might die and it will be all your fault.

Do you or your friends take soft drinks out of the fridge and then put them back afterwards. Do you do this when you’re trying to make room for pot roast leftovers or BBQ? Do you know it might kill you. Bacteria from the drinks arrive when they get cold, and then grow when you let the drinks get warm, and then when you put them back in the fridge the cold temperature causes the bacteria to thrive and mutate thus killing you.


A concerned Buddy,

And then you sit back and wait for Barbara Mikkelson (of snopes.com) to tell you the truth. It’s simple, effective, and probably a bit immoral. Hopefully Yahoo Answers will stop people from having to resort to such tactics from here on in.

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