Searching for squirrels

Photo: Red squirrel, by Drew McLennan via flickr.com, CC BY-NC 2.0

When you have a blog, it’s possible to obsess over the statistics you have access to: chiefly, visitor counts by day, by month, by post, and by country of origin*. But nothing on the stats page is more fun than the list of search terms – terms by which people have navigated the seas of the Internet to wind up anchored (or perhaps more likely, accidentally beached) at Scientist Sees Squirrel. Inspired by similar exercises from Small Pond Science and The Lab and Field**, I present a few of the more interesting search terms by which this blog can be found.

  • lesser scientist

Sure, I’m a lesser scientist than some, but Google, did you have to say so? Although it turns out I did use that phrase, in my post on optimal distribution of grant funding.

  •  best sample scientific reading
  • written good things by scintiest

 These two would make me feel really good about my blog, except that they lead to a post in which I praise other people’s writing. Oh well.

  • scientific reasons questions answers on squarrels
  • what is a squirrels strenght of defence
  • best description beauty of squirrel in less words
  • squireel autobiography
  • squirrel statistics
  • don’t see explicit 7 facts about the squirrel
  • what r the midicain to squeral 

Look, here’s the thing. I don’t actually know anything about squirrels. I’m an insect/plant guy, mostly, and the whole Scientist Sees Squirrel thing was more of a metaphor. You know, short attention span and all that. So I’m sorry, but someone else will have to answer these. Especially the last one.

  •  good names for squirresl

 Ah, this one I can handle. “Scaredy” is good, and “Nutkin”, and “Rocky” (but not “Bullwinkle”).

  •  scientist write wrong answer in paper

 Yes, I’m sure I have; so have most of us. Despite claims to the contrary, I think this is a completely normal feature of how science progresses.

  •  at what age did barbara cartland stop writing novels

So Google thinks I’m an expert on the English romance novelist Barbara Cartland? You write one post about her…  Although as it turns out, I know the answer: never (she left about 150 completed manuscripts at her death, and they’re still being published).

  • geoffrey chaucer his defects

 I’m sure he had some, but that’s not why I mentioned him. Mind you, it was in a post called “Dealing with the Defect in English”, so I can see what Google was thinking.

  • genus turds why name

 Well, it’s “Turdus”, but otherwise I shared your curiosity and wrote about it here.

  •  is is possible to get grant if my legs are unequally?

 I’m ashamed to admit that I chuckled when I saw this one. Until I read it a second time. I hope the searcher found some help, but if so, they found it somewhere other than the post their query led to.

  • my reviewer said

Yeah, mine did too. Overall, though, I think peer review works very, very well.

  •  wonderful scientific thoughts

Why, thank you.

© Stephen Heard (sheard@unb.ca) December 7, 2015


*Oh Guyana, what have I done to you that you’re the gap in my otherwise complete collection of South American countries?  UPDATE: and this very post, it seems, got viewed from Guyana. Woo-hoo!  Now to work on North Korea…

**I hope Terry and Alex won’t mind this blatant rip-off. As for you, dear reader: it’s right there in the masthead, “Seldom Original”. You were warned.

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12 thoughts on “Searching for squirrels

  1. Peter Apps

    As the cliche goes – you couldn’t make it up !
    Given an imperfect universe I can understand why some of the searches would have your blog as entry number 1396 or thereabouts – but why on Earth would the searcher click on it ?

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  2. sleather2012

    My most common search term for my blog over the past year is “do aphids bite” – my weirdest are “her wellies got sloppy pictures” (3 occurrences) and “catholic confirmation secret prayer pal letters” – the mind boggles!

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  3. Jeremy Fox

    We’ve amused ourselves with this as well:

    https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/this-isnt-the-site-youre-looking-for/
    https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/this-isnt-the-blog-youre-looking-for/
    https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/awkwardblogsearchterms/

    We’re less able to do it now. For some reason, the vast majority of the searches by which people find Dynamic Ecology are now listed as “unknown search term”. It didn’t used to be that way–used to be that only about 50% of search terms by which people found us were “unknown” to WordPress. And these days, the few that are known are mostly searches on “reason why you chose this research topic” or variations thereon, which reach us because of this post:

    https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/advice-good-reasons-for-choosing-a-research-project-plus-some-bad-ones/

    I have to say that I find it depressing that there are people out there who, when asked a personal question like “why did you choose this research topic?”, search the internet for the answer. I have trouble wrapping my head around why you would do such searches. It’s like googling for the answer to “how are you today?” or “how tall are you?” Hopefully the people doing these searches are non-native English speakers who are looking for examples from which they can learn, so as to better craft their own answer. Rather than looking for any ol’ answer that they can just plagiarize.

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    1. ScientistSeesSquirrel Post author

      Yes, most search terms are now “unknown” – this is because Google began encrypting searches a year or so ago. I’m not sure whether the search terms we still see are non-Google, or whether there are some Google ones leaking through. Of course, people use “google” like they do “kleenex” or “xerox”, just to mean “search” generically – this must really annoy the folks at Bing…

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