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