Making Information Quests Too Difficult

I forgot to share with the journalism students the other week a tip about not making things more difficult than they need to be when starting a hunt for information. I even have two recent great examples.

I saw something in a store’s sale ad I wanted to buy. I needed to try to figure out the location of the store because it wasn’t listed in the ad. The ad gave a Web address. I was in a hurry, so I didn’t want to take the time to boot up my computer, dial onto the Internet, and go to their Web site to try to find the nearest location. I pondered for a moment what to do before I remembered the usefulness and simplicity of the phone book. I found the location of stores near me in less than five minutes in the commerical listings.

I frequently get questions about degree abbreviations. One message sat in my voice mailbox for a while waiting in the queue for me to get to it. When I listened to it, I couldn’t help wondering if the inquirer’s time would have been better spent consulting a dictionary–many of which explain common abbreviations–instead of waiting for a returned call. There is something to be said for calling the source, though.

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