Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday Search Challenge (Feb 24, 2010) - Searching for a mollusk

Time for a relatively straight-forward question and a comment.

The search challenge for today is:

     What is the only mollusk known that can walk on two legs?

When you answer this question, take note of how long it takes you from the moment you start trying to solve the question until the time you get the answer.  We call that amount of time the "Time To Result" -- and it's one way of measuring how effective you are as a searcher.

When I solved this challenge, it took me about 5 seconds.  How could I do it so fast?  It's mostly by practice and noticing how people write web pages.  When I think about what to search for, I first think about how people would write about the topic.

But more on this tomorrow, when I reveal the answer!


  1. It took me 90 seconds. I thought that was pretty fast - but I feel like an mollusk next to your 5 seconds. What's interesting is that I too wrote my (first) query thinking about the way people write webpages. I wrote it as if this was a fun fact -- I almost wrote out: ["the only mollusk" "two legs"] but made it a bit more general instead. Still, I couldn't find the answer very quickly. I came across "biped" in the snippets and thought that was a good clue but it didn't help much - I don't think people refer to any mollusks as bipeds much :) I didn't want to give away the answer so I hid it below -- but I just came across the name of a mollusk inside the snippets and popped that in. My eye was scanning for any mollusk name in the snippets so I found the answer without really reading any complete sentences, which is extremely powerful.

    I can't remember scrolling once during my 90 seconds. Your clue that you found the answer so quickly meant that it had to be in the top few results. Perhaps if I didn't know that, I would have searched less and dug more?

    This was my path:

    - mollusk "walks on two legs"
    - "biped mollusk"
    - biped mollusk
    - mollusk "two feet" walks
    - mollusk "two feet"
    - mollusk "two legs"
    - [answer] "two legs"

    Thanks for the fun challenge, Dan! Keep 'em coming. I'd love to send some more your way too :)

  2. Neema -- Nice solution. 90 seconds is pretty good!

    You picked up the key insight--that "bipedal" (or some variation on that) is the best associated search term. (But see my answer on Thursday's post.)

  3. "mollusk" "two legs

    Octopus: 46 seconds