Oracle UA

Getting Better Oracle Assistance

Or, general search engines are great… until they aren’t

1-Minute (or less) Summary

  1. General search engines aren’t perfect, and aren’t the best source for single domain searches.
  2. Oracle Help Center is a better tool for getting answer about Oracle products.

The Whole Story

There are advantages to general search engines (e.g., Google or DuckDuckGo). They crawl and make searchable a mind boggling number of sites, and return search results that attempt to answer your question. The complexity of doing this, let alone doing this well, would, and rightly should, blow your mind. Even a search in a single language, like English, would amaze you. When you do it globally, it is nearly too big for our minds to comprehend.

Don’t be surprised when those search engines, that do so well, struggle, or even fail, to return good results on relatively simple searches. For example:

  1. Select this link to DuckDuckGo to search for… start an oracle database.
  2. Select this link to Google to search for… start an oracle database.

First, notice the two searches return different result sets. There is no miracle perfect answer. Different search engine algorithms, with their associated page scores, produce different result sets. Additionally, since both search engines (along with others) depend upon ad revenue, you will also see prioritization based on those paying for those ads.

Why is this important? We, and I am firmly in that we, rarely go beyond the first page of results when reviewing hits, and honestly we rarely go beyond the first one or two hits. At the time I wrote this blog post, Google returned nearly 91 million results for the query. If you spent 1 second reviewing each result, it would take you nearly 3 years (approx. 2.88 years) to review every hit. This is an impossible task for anyone. Looking at the first hits or first page of hits is an essential skill.

Also note, the results from the queries include older Oracle documentation results. Why is this? Is Oracle not doing something correct? Most general search engines do two things. They rank the quality of a hit by how many other pages on the web link to that page, influencing a page’s scores. Often this means that older pages that collected links are often ranked above newer content.

These search engines also do not allow companies, like Oracle, to influence or even know (with certainty) how to influence their page score. So, while Oracle is not in the business of showing you results from older database versions, the search engines do not provide companies with easy tools to change the results.

General search engines aren’t perfect, and they never will be. They are good. Here is how you can do better.

You can use Oracle’s domain specific search engine on the Oracle Help Center for User Assistance content or the Oracle search engine for the entire Oracle domain. When you search for answers where Oracle is the primary source, nothing beats the performance and reach of these tools.

  1. Select this link to the Oracle Help Center to search for… start an oracle database.

You’ll notice that the results are much better, and oriented towards versions of Oracle products that are more likely to be what you are seeking. Plus, you avoid a lot of those traffic-stealing URLs that provide less-than-reliable answers in the attempt to gather page views for ad and other revenue purposes.

The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle. I am an Oracle Consulting User Assistance Developer in the Oracle Database Development team.