Thursday, January 27, 2011

Answer: How much fish passed through the Vladivostok port in 2010?

Nice job, Fred, Tasha and Daniel!  Wonderful comments!  

While there are many ways to solve this problem, I realized that the most likely authoritative source for this kind of information would be--guess what?--web pages on Russian sites.  (Which is the method Tasha used in her solution.) 

So I used the "Translated foreign pages" under the "More search tools" link in the left hand panel. 

With the "Translated foreign pages" option selected, you can search in English, and the best matches (in whatever other languages) will be shown in the search results, translated.

In this case, since we're interested in the Vladivostok fish tonnage through the port, nearly all of the pages will be in Russian.

With just a few clicks, you can get multiple pages that list the total fish tonnage.

However... if you want to be clever, you could use the pattern-match feature and do:

[ vladivostok port  " * tons of fish" 2010 ] 

(Note that I used the asterisk as a pattern match in the quoted phrase.  I figure that somewhere in an article about the fishing capacity of Vladivostok it would say something like "and the capacity of the port is XX tons of fish.")

The remarkable thing is that this pattern will match in English against Russian documents, and show one possible answer in the snippets...

Still, getting answers from snippets can be dangerous, so I clicked through to the top three to see what kind  of page each was and to double-check that the value was correctly in context.

The first result is from, a newspaper with fairly extensive business coverage for Vladivostok and the region, they give the 2010 catch as 1.5M tons.  The second result is from (a Vladivostok newspaper) and confirms the port tonnage as 1.5M tons (1.6M for the entire region).

So my best guess is that it's 1.5M tons; several local news sources agree (and a quick extrapolation from the size of the Vladivostok harbor and the number of fishing vessels show that this is a pretty reasonable number... for vessels fishing in the north Pacific).

Search lesson:  When looking for information from another country, often your best source is local news from the country of origin. And the fastest way to get that information is via Translated foreign pages.  Don't forget this easy access to pages from other languages / other cultures.

Search on!

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