Monday, November 7, 2016

Answer: Finding interesting uses for emoji/Unicode search?

This was an unusual Challenge.  

Remember that I asked:  
Can you find interesting and useful cases when a search includes an emoji or a special Unicode character?  Say WHY you find this use case interesting.  
Here's what I found as interesting search cases... 

1.  Math symbols.  You can search for math symbols to find web docs in very specialized areas.  For instance, if you just don't know a symbol, you can use ShapeCatcher or Google Docs to draw the character you're trying to understand, and then look for web pages that contain that character.  Here's my example of using ShapeCatcher to draw a symbol I found in a textbook: 

An example of using to draw a character and recognize it.

For instance, you might already know these symbols: 

 - element-of (e.g,   1 { 4, 3, 2, 1 } 

𝚫 - delta (a Greek letter, but also used in math) 

- approximately equal to (e.g. 3.5 ≅ 3.4999)  

And so on.  This is a handy way to find tutorial information about a particular math topic.  For example:  

     [ ∈ ⋂ highschool ] 

will find a LOT of high school worksheets, practice exams, and tutorial materials for set theory.  (Which use the symbols  ∈ and ⋂.)   

2. Fraction symbols.  As you might know, many fractions have their own Unicode character as well.  That is, you can search for common fractions like:  ½ ¾ ⅓  You can search for these as well:  

     [ ½ cup butter in ml ] 

which shows you the conversion table: 

This is especially useful when searching in Books:

3. Emoticons in common phrases.  You've probably seen emoticons in popular advertising phrases before.  This one is especially famous:  I   NY   (link to the Wikipedia entry on this phrase)

By using the * search, we can find other uses of the "I " pattern.  

     [ "I *" ] 

And we find that "I " something is pretty popular: 

You can also do searches for similar characters:  "I ♠️ my *"  or... well, you can imagine.  

4.  Emojis for searching out kinds of content.  According to the analysis site, out of all the emojis, there's a limited number that are used very often.  (From the top: Heart, Joy, Unamused, Heart Eyes... etc.  See the article for the top 100.) 

This makes me think that using some of the more commonly used emoji might be handy for locating content with a particular sentiment.  Here's an obvious one to look for positive sentiment about Katy Perry on Twitter:  

     [ ♥️ Katy  ] 

which then gives you a lot of pro-Katy Perry fan content (should you want that):  

Or another one, with the Joy emoji: 

     [ 😂 comedy Los Angeles ] 

Which gives you: 

5.  Emojis for finding genres of content.  We've already talked about versions of this (e.g., using chess symbols ♔ ♘ ♖ to find online chess games), but you can carry this forward into other kinds of genres.  

6.  Domains with emoticons!  As several Regular Readers pointed out to me, GoDaddy (the web-hosting giant) is now offering an "Emoji Domain Name" search engine.  That is, you can go to their website, ❤❤❤.ws and see what kinds of emoji domains you can buy.  

As you know, traditionally, domain names have been straightforward Latin characters--such as   Now, however, they can be emojis, such as the domain:


When I did a quick spot check there, I found that some obvious domains have been already snapped up:   🍕.ws (and all pizzas up to length 6 are already gone!).  Fraternity names are also mostly already gone:  𝚫𝚫𝚫.ws and so on.  But there are domains still to buy!  I see that ☠🏀.ws is still available (for fans of death basketball).  

You can't really make this stuff up.  

I hope you enjoyed this little Challenge.  I'll be back on Wednesday with another SearchResearch Challenge for the week.  

In the meantime, let me know if you come across any other uses for emoji/Unicode search.  

Search on... in mutliple character spaces! 


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Remmij in your last search I had only 2 results in 0.76 seconds.

      Searching with emojis/emoticons and other characters is very interesting. I just hope soon all "symbols" can be seen in every screen. It is horrible to just see a blank space. Another difficulty is that many times when we see the emoticon don't know what that means.

      That is why it is awesome that each week we learn more with Dr. Russell and with each post that we make.

    2. greetings Ramón —
      there is complexity & ambiguity… this may be useful in regard to Japanese emoticons… 10,000+ Kaomoji
      today's ?s…
      Darvaza gas crater/ door to hell
      Oklo Reactor
      Scientific American
      stuff happens - ongoing

  2. try this

  3. Somehow I feel like this belongs here: "in a British family law decision, Lancashire County Council v M (, a judge used emojis to better express his ruling to the young children involved."