PersonaProbe - FAQ


PersonaProbe Search Tool

PersonaProbe FAQ

Google API Search Script

What is PersonaProbe?

PersonaProbe is a search tool which allows you to probe the Web for the information (and mis-information) about people. It uses Google's XML Web Services API to retrieve search results from Google. The 10 different probes each use carefully constructed search queries to retrieve information or comment on that aspect of the person's life. It works well for election candidates!

Why is it called PersonaProbe?

Well, I thought of calling it "Probe a Person", but that seemed a bit aggressive, and more than a bit arrogant. "Persona Probe" is much more accurate. After all, the information and comment that is publicly available on the Web probably just reflects that person's public persona, and no doubt there is much more to that person that is not apparent on the Web.

What Search Queries does it use?

If I told you that, then it probably wouldn't seem half so clever - so I won't! Actually, the search queries are quite clever, and make use of things like synonyms and word placement to try and generate the single widest query that gives relevant results.

So why is it giving me irrelevant results?

It depends on how much information is available on the person. Each probe actually consists of two search queries. The first is very specifically targeted and the results returned are usually relevant. However, if this does not find any results, it then performs a second much wider search query in the hope of dredging up at least something relevant, along with the other garbage! Anyway, spurious matches are half the fun of using Search Engines, aren't they?

Again, big thanks to Imaginaire Digital in Nottingham for helping us develop the script and turn it into something which can be used in search engine optimisation and web development.

Why isn't it giving me any results at all?

There are several possibilities - Maybe there aren't any relevant web pages? No? - well maybe you spelled the name wrong? No? - well Google only allows us 1000 searches per day, so if that has been exceeded, I'm afraid it won't work for the rest of the day. Or, perish the thought, maybe things aren't working at Google's end - it is only a Beta service after all.

Are there plans for more development?

Yes, there's lots on the to do list:

  • Maintain a log and show a ranking of the most frequently used Probes - name & type of probe. That should make interesting reading!

  • Cache the results to make it faster and allow more searches.

  • Refine the search queries a bit more.

  • Allow users to use their own API Key.

  • Suggestions? Send to probe-a-t-soft-spot-d-o-t-co-d-o-t-uk if you get my drift (keep one of the hyphens).

  • Encrypt that address and show it properly.

  • Get rid of that address and add a comments page.

  • Get a life.

  • PersonaProbe uses Google's XML Web Services API to retrieve results from Google, but is not affiliated to Google in any way.  Search results are copyright Google, but neither nor Google are responsible for the contents of the WebSites listed.