When you're creating a project, the way you enter your keywords is extremely important. A project that doesn't have the keywords entered correctly can bring in no results, irrelevant results, or even the entire dashboard! By following a few basic rules, you can build projects that include the most relevant discourse possible, leaving out the rest.
Enter one search term per blue box
You may enter as many keywords or phrases as you would like, but make sure each gets its own blue box. You should NEVER type out the words "AND" or "OR" (unless they are part of a phrase that you're looking for). In the example below, the search engine knows to look for any of the key phrases I've entered. In other words, I'm looking for mentions of "school district" or "public schools" or "public school" and so on. Every post that includes one of the phrases will be included in the project.
Put exact words or phrases in quotation marks
For the project to pull in exact matches for the words or phrases you enter, they must be entered inside quotations. For words that are entered without quotation marks, the system performs an "elastic" search. This means that all possible versions or tenses of the word will be brought in. For example, for the word meeting entered without quotation marks, the project will automatically pull in posts that include the words meet, met, meets, meetings, etc. This is why it is so important to include quotation marks around words and phrases that you want exact matches for.
And for the phrases you're entering in the "Don't show these" section, it's especially important! If you enter a phrase longer than one word without including quotations, the search can result in the exact opposite of what you were intending.
Don't include keywords that are too broad
Be precise in the words or phrases that you're entering. Remember that the project is going to pull in exactly what you tell it to, and the content on your dashboard is already tailored to your location. Therefore, if you enter the name of your city in a blue box on its own, the project will pull in all discourse that includes the name of your city in it -- this might be the majority of your dashboard! In the example below, I'm specifically interested in all mentions of the Los Angeles Department of Public Health or a campaign that they're running.
Use groupings to search for combinations of words
Think about how many different ways residents might refer to the project topic. Instead of typing out each combination of words, save time by using two groupings of words, joined together by the AND rule. This means a post must contain at least one word from the first grouping AND one word from the second grouping in order to be pulled into the project. Keep in mind, this only applies if the specific order in which the words appear in the post doesn't matter. In the example below, I'm building a project on Trash Pickup.
Include Hashtags (# symbol not necessary)
Don't forget to include relevant hashtags. It is not necessary to include the hashtag symbol. If many official and unofficial channels are posting about a topic, initiative, or event using a hashtag and you forget to include the hashtag in your keywords, you can potentially be missing out on discourse that is important to the project.
You can always press the "Request Assistance" button at the top right-hand corner of the page if you need help getting your project just right!
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