When it comes to search techniques, you’ll never find a more anal group than librarians. So when search tools start mucking around with the search short-cuts, we tend to shake our heads and mumble something like “it worked just fine the way it was… why do you keep changing it??” In fact, there are many law librarians out there that still think that “Dot Commands” in Lexis is truly the only way to conduct legal research queries. Now it is Google that has changed one of the basic search commands that we’ve used for years and replaced it with what amounts to a two-step process to replace a single one.
A couple of weeks ago, Google removed the “+” search command that allowed you to search for a specific spelling of a word or words (without Google correcting your spelling or stemming the word.) According to Google’s research, two-thirds of the commands that used the “+” designator were using it incorrectly, so they replaced the “+” with the either using a double-quote or by clicking on the new advance tool called “Verbatim.” (I’m actually thinking that someone in Google’s marketing department mentioned that they needed to get rid of the “+” command because someone might confuse it with their social media site name of “Google+”… but that’s probably just me being paranoid.)
I’m not one who argues against change, in fact I usually am one of the first to embrace these new features, but I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that Google dropped the one-step “+” command and replaced it with a two-step “double-quote” command (you have to close that quote!) and the three-step “Verbatim” resource (you have to run the search, then click “Show Search Tools” on the left-hand side of the results, and then click on “Verbatim” to get the results.)
Rest in peace my old friend “+” and long live “double-quote” and Verbatim… at least until some future round of enhancements comes along and finds that two-thirds of people are not using you correctly and finds a four-step process to make it easier.