Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Search Challenge (6/3/15): Find a community of people interested in ... this?

As we've discussed, 

... one incredibly valuable skill for a SearchResearcher to have is the ability to identify and locate "communities" of people who are already experts (or extremely interested and passionate amateurs).  

It sometimes takes a village to find your way. The Byrd expedition of Antarctica, 1928.

Being able to find such communities is probably the single best way to find those people who can help you refine a SearchResearch question, or maybe even have the answer outright.  

For instance, finding the right community--and its online expression as a Wiki, an email list, a shared blog, a forum, or a Q&A site--can only link you with people who can instantly take your ill-formed and not-well-understood question, and either (a) change it into something that is searchable, or (b) give you the answer immediately.  

This is the basis for today's Challenge:  Can you find a community that can help answer questions in the following topics?  

1. Suppose my cousin had just been diagnosed as having apraxia.  I need to understand a bit more about this condition.  Can you help find me an online community that can help me learn much more about this?  
2.  My son's class just learned about slickensides in their science class.  Does an online community exist that would be able to answer my questions about this (and related topics)?   
3.  A friend is learning Finnish and would like to find a community where she can ask questions about the language. (That is, not just "how do I say this in Finnish?" but linguistics-style questions like "what does the translative case do?")  Can you find a community for her? 

I have three questions here because they are each very different in content (and you probably know the answer to at least one of them off the top of your head), and I suspect that each requires a somewhat different method to find each community.  

This week, can you FIND these communities?  (We can discuss what constitutes such communities in the comments.)  

And most importantly, tell us HOW you found them?  What searches did you do?  What led you to those discoveries?  

I'm pretty convinced that the ability to find communities is a key skill for SRS-ers.  Let's figure out a few great tips and tricks for locating them! 

Search on! 

P.S.  It's worth noting that the members of SearchResearch form a community... of people interested in how people can search (and research) for information online!  Think to yourself:  How would I find such people??  


  1. 1. I started with apraxia blog. That took me to along with a number of blogs by individuals. However, this one seemed to be the most comprehensive. It is conducted by CASANA. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit publicly funded charity whose mission is to strengthen the support systems in the lives of children with apraxia so that each child is afforded their best opportunity to develop speech and communication. We are the ONLY national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to children with apraxia and their families. They have a listserv. Here is a site that listed some of the parent blogs: (4 minutes)

    2. A search for slickensides turned up a blog:

    I then searched slickensides geology and found the following:
    Geological Outings Around the Bay: The Great Slickenside of Corona Heights

    The author of this also has a blog:

    A search on this blog for slickenside revealed a number of entries and comments, so this might be a small but growing community of people interested in slickensides, who might actually meet in person and not just online.

    The U.S. Geological Survey also has a number of entries on their website for slickensides with good information, but no community that I could find. (15 minutes)

    3. I searched for Finnish speakers, but got mixed results which included speakers, as in amplifying devices. I tried Finnish linguistics and found SKY – The Linguistic Association of Finland It was was founded in 1977 to promote linguistic research and the teaching of linguistics in Finland by offering a forum for discussion, both in Finland and abroad. A click on their links revealed multiple sites although I am not sure that any of them would answer individual questions.

    I then looked at and clicked on Alphabet and Pronunciation:
    There were a number of useful resources, but no real community.

    I finally tried Finnish language blog and found a couple that seem to answer the question: This blog is my way of practicing writing and helping out foreigners who are learning Finnish. I'm excited that you are reading this, whether you are my friend, an old student or a total stranger from the other side of the world! Comments, corrections and ideas are very welcome. I hope you'll enjoy my random Finnish lessons and find this blog useful for you. A linguist student’s blog about Finnish language. Here you’ll find idioms, funny stuff, and hopefully you’ll be able to learn as well. Feel free to ask me anything! (17 minutes)

  2. I did the following:
    1. Apraxia
    Google search (of course) —> of the results, chose
    This has a directory of organizations
    I chose Apraxia-KIDS ( (The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America)
    It has links for Families, Researchers and Professionals – the link for Families includes many resources ( including an Event Calendar, webinars on demand and links to the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter feed as well as the email discussion group/Listserv
    AND a bunch of information about what it is (
    AND a “Stay Connected” link with an option to get emails from the organization.

    To corroborate the information, I also checked out CHERAB – another nonprofit working in the area. This led to a Facebook group (

    2. Slickensides
    Google search —> after checking out Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary to refresh my memory as to what this is, I scrolled through the search results – 4 pages in. Most of the entries are either images or more scientific articles.
    I went back to the first page and clicked on the first non-image entry:
    This yielded a “Gallery of Slickensides” - by Andrew Aiden, self-proclaimed “Geology Expert”
    He has a free email newsletter – although this is about all of geology
    Continuing down the Search results: clicked on the blog, Musings of a Life Long Scholar ( This defined the term again but didn’t add a whole lot of information. There were 2 comments – enough to indicate some small interest, but not exactly a “community”
    Then, I searched on “Slickensides Community” (a long shot I know) —> nothing interesting to this task
    Added “Listserv” to original post and there I found JISCMail (;11d4b21d.0904) with 2 entries (appears to be a Mining Listserv)
    All of these are simply mentions of Slickensides, without a whole lot of additional interest
    I would contact one of the authors of replies and see what they suggest for other people – trying to identify who “the expert” is – it’s not evident from the search results. I would also ask about communities (professional and amateur)

    3. Finnish
    Google search on "learning Finnish” —> many online resources for learning, e.g., — free online lessons plus “Fun Facts” (JRR Tolkien taught himself Finnish so he could read the Kalevala (national epic) in original Finnish –it became the basis for Elven language. AND The US is one of the 3 top countries using this tool to learn Finnish. – Online games for learning Finnish
    Changed search to “Finnish Language meet ups” —> and there’s one in Mountain View:
    Then changed search to “Finnish Language community” —> there are a number – e.g., - online conversation (I used something like this for Spanish) – online practice as well

    (Now that I'm done I've read Judith's approach - very interesting! I am sorry I didn't keep track of how long each of these tasks took - but probably roughly 5 min, 15 min, 5 min or so...)

    Hope this is helpful.

  3. 1. Apraxia
    I focused on online communities. Started by searching Google for apraxia support groups. This one has states listed, and often several of them have listed Facebook groups that can be joined (some are closed, others aren’t). (20 minutes in total)

    Then I went to Facebook directly and searched for Apraxia and under More, limited to Groups.
    That got me this:
    Then I revised my initial Google search to look for apraxia online support (parents OR moms). First results is:
    Suggests four blogs – the commenting capability could serve as an online support group.
    1. Apraxia Adventures
    2. Jake’s Journey To Be A Little Man
    3. Their Words Their Way
    4. The Speech Gadget
    The results also included a link to this site:
    Which ultimately yielded this open Yahoo group that is still active:

    2. Slickensides
    Start by searching Wikipedia for a definition of slickensides: “In geology, a slickenside is a smoothly polished surface caused by frictional movement between rocks along the two sides of afault. This surface is normally striated in the direction of movement.” (1 minute)
    Searched Google for geology interest groups online (3 minutes, not really helpful)
    Added children to end of original Google search – sent to a sub-reddit that I used to jump to the main board. (1 minute – not as helpful)
    Searched Google for geology discussion board online. These seem like places to get questions answered. (2 minutes)

    3. Finnish Language
    Searched Google for finnish language community discussion (2 minutes) which describes itself as “This list is for people studying the Finnish language and/or Finnish culture, whether in Finland or other countries.Primary languages are English and Finnish.” which describes itself as “This is a subreddit for people who are learning or want to learn the Finnish language. Any and all ability levels are welcome! Ask questions, get advice, and discuss the learning process.”


  4. My approach to this challenge was to focus on the sources & quite frankly I haven’t spent time examining the details of these results. To simplify I have created a Google Document showing Figures 1- 10 of my actual results. Here’s the images link

    Question 1 - Apraxia

    we have Google Blog Search which produced generic results rather that actual blogs. So then I tried Figure 2 Query [blog search “apraxia”] Much better results with 6 blog sites on the first SERP.

    Figure 3 I used L-Soft ListServ which provides a link to Syracuse University. Now I have never used Listservs and I expect there are many more available. You can see in Figure 4 my Query [usenet search “apraxia”] . In the results we get the generic results but as well I see Google groups, Pinterest, Youtube, and more blog sites.

    Figure 5 Query [newsgroups search] which is something I used many years ago. Notice I restricted it to the past year because initially I got very old results. Of interest was the 3rd result “The Hidden Internet” at However I didn’t find good results for Apraxia. You’ll see this referred to later in Question 3 Finnish. I wonder if those that used newsgroups years ago are the ones that frequent these sites now.

    Question 2 - Slickenslides
    Again I tried Google blog search Figure 6 but the results other than a couple are generic. So again I did Query [blog search “slickenslides” Figure 7 and find several blog results that look promising. I didn’t find good Usenet and Newsgroups results.

    Question 3 - Finnish Language/Translation I first turned to a website I know Linq's website Figure 8 which is language learning site & people will help each other. Turns out Finnish is in beta on the site with courses from Beginners to Advanced Levels. As well Figure 9 Exchange in Finnish is available. Next I tried USENET (mentioned above) and found a somewhat low traffic site Figure 10 Finnish but again I expect there are more usenet sources.

    1. Doing a standard type search

      Query ["social media" OR listserv OR blog OR newsgroup "apraxia"]
      SERP -

      Query ["social media" OR listserv OR blog OR newsgroup "slickenslides"] -
      SERP -

      Query ["social media" OR listserv OR blog OR newsgroup "finnish language"]

      I experimented to see how the results would be for Query [“social media” “finnish language] with interesting results. A term I hadn’t used before.
      SERP -

      Conclusion -Google Search does a good job if keywords & sources clearly defined.

  5. Ok next step seems to be to expand on our keywords. What are some other keywords?

    society - for example Query ["society" "slickensides"] Result Discussion Page -current & active

    Other keywords that I think will have links to other discussion pages for any of our topics are:

    peer groups
    special interest groups

    1. The term "society" is interesting. I always think of societies as learned bodies of people who present papers, research studies, etc. Did you have any luck finding a group like this with the "society" search term?

    2. If we look at the Google definition ofsociety
      “the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community /an organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity.”,
      that fits what I believe an online community looks like.

      Now I did point out the & with a little searching around I linked to “ask a geologist”

      This led me to another interesting linke “ask an expert” Society in this case does refer to a learned body of experts. I would submit my query to any active links if digging deeper didn’t provide an answer. I did notice not all pages are active.

      With the Query [society "apraxia" discussion OR forum OR group] my SERP shows results for “association” a lot more than “society” Some are support groups, information groups, a few blogs and others that are academic.

      With respect to getting help with Finnish results using “society” I didn’t get good results.

      Since I am studying Spanish I have often used the keyword “language exchange” and it works well.
      Query ["finnish" "language exchange"] SERP provides lots of exchange sites.

      I personally use Lingq’s mentioned previously and one relatively new site “Hi Native” at and I verified that Finnish is listed as a language where one can get help. What I like about Hi Native is quick responses. There is another site I have used
      which allows you to post documents for editing for free. It is a crowdsource type of assistance with others able to rate the quality of translations being provided.

    3. Now I will answer your questions (oops). I did find results of slickensides at here
      These results are publications, not where one could ask questions, which is why I went on to search for other possibilities in my above posting.

    4. To find answers to # 3 Finnish “what does the translative case do” Query [translative case] & I have several hits but here’s a couple websites with discussion pages.

      Stack Exchange is an active online community, it has several topics, and asking a question looks like an easy process without the need to sign up. I can see spending time on this site. Unilang requires signup before you can search topics but it’s free.

    5. --------
      Part of this is a repost-
      To find answers to # 3 Finnish “what does the translative case do” Query [translative case] & I have several hits discussing this topic. Here’s a couple examples

      The first result is at Stack Exchange, an active online community with several topics, and asking a question looks like an easy process without the need to sign up. I can see spending time on this site. The second result, Unilang requires signup before you can search topics.

      I wondered if with many sites had live online chat options. I did a Query [online chat reference librarian] and here’s one result and I’m sure there are others. This made me think about the National Archives website & I checked out social media and see they have a project underway. I don’t know what this means for searchers like ourselves.

      Something I didn't explored was apps. I just had a quick look and I see there are apps for Newsgroups Readers, Usenet Readers, and Libraries. No idea how they work. After learning about listservs I signed up for one but with the amount of email I quickly signed off.

    6. These are excellent additional context terms. I especially like "special interest groups" (or SIGs) and "newsletters" as context terms. Great ideas!

    7. You're right -- you DID bring up StackExchange here. (I just missed it when writing up my solution.) Will edit it now.

  6. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers

    Having some issues with WiFi and electricity. So this is just a quick post.

    My first options are social networks communities, apps and also blogs.

    About blogs, I remember that in Google Power Searching Mooc, we learned that we can search for blogs that has some minimum data using (..) tool.

    Very interesting challenge. I'll keep searching.

    1. Searched:

      [search blogs]


      [Apraxia support groups | communities]
      [Apraxia communities]
      [Apraxia for dummies]

      2. Slickensides

      [define slickensides]

      [related slickensides]

      Slickensides are smooth, often polished surfaces of parallel scratches or grooves Links to USGS Glossary.

      [science intext:slickensides |]

      [intext:slickensides blogs | communities]

      3. Finnish.

      [Finnish grammar tools]
      [Finnish duolingo]
      [finnish grammar online]

  7. cogitating, sans community/alone
    page 20, soil taxonomy, soil morphology, soil horizons
    audio visual
    cutans & slickensides
    … in all 3 questions it occurred to me that an initial narrowing/focusing of the inquiry would speed up the search and increase the quality of the results…and knowing the audience/application of the results would be beneficial also… back to the stove & pipe

  8. [apraxia forum] Finds several hits. I like this one. Well organised and high volume -2k members: email discussion group

    [geology forum slickensides] Nice messageboard here at

    [finnish grammar forum] finds several hits. The one here I like best is via which has a link to Again well organised and huge membership.

    Failing these I would involve professional reference librarians via Project Wombat
    at using a specific subject line. This is actually another community with expertise in many things. As Samuel Johnson would have said , they know how to find stuff.

    Cheers jon

  9. 1. For the first question we did a search in Google for Apraxia support groups and found many. There were groups on Facebook and groups in different states. Then we did a search for listservs and found several as well. Doing a search for the disease itself brought you to sites that also had links to support groups.
    2. Neither Anne nor I knew what a slickenside was so we looked that up first and saw that it had to do with geology. So we looked up geological society and found the geological society of America. Then we added the word slickensides to the search and saw that this group did a press release on the topic as well as published several papers and journal articles.
    3. We tried one search linguistic groups finnish and didn't get any relevant results and then tried Finnish language linguistics as the search terms and found several groups including the Finnish Cognitive Linguistics Assoc. also the Dept. of General Linguistics at the Univ. of Helsinki looked like it would be able to answer questions on the language. Then we did a search for linguistic listservs finnish and came up with several listservs including one that seemed devoted to linguistics called Linguilist and we also found the linguistics Assoc. of Finland.