ChatGPT vs Google as a Means of Getting Technical Answers


1. Introduction: ChatGPT vs Google

The digital age has made information more accessible than ever. However, the method of retrieval can significantly influence the quality and relevance of the information obtained. Two prominent sources of information today are Google, the leading search engine, and ChatGPT, an advanced AI developed by OpenAI. While Google is a powerful tool for general searches, this essay argues that ChatGPT holds distinct advantages for detailed, context-specific technical queries. A perfect example is a recent query about WordPress and cPanel interactions.

2. The Information Query: A Case Study

Recently, a user asked about email logging for a WordPress website using a subscription plugin: "I have a WP site with subscriptions. The subscriptions plugin sends emails such as reminders of renewals etc. Do these emails appear in the CPanel sent emails folder?" This question involved technical knowledge about WordPress, cPanel, and how emails work in this context.

3. The Importance of Context and Clarity in Queries

While this question appeared straightforward, the initial lack of specific details led to an assumption about the site using, rather than being a self-hosted WordPress website using a plugin for subscriptions. The user then clarified, leading to a more precise answer. This scenario underlines the importance of context and detail in technical queries. It also demonstrates ChatGPT's capability to handle follow-up queries, refining responses based on additional context.

4. Information Retrieval: Google vs ChatGPT

Google, as a search engine, retrieves web pages based on keyword relevance and other ranking factors. However, it doesn't comprehend queries in a contextual sense or handle follow-up questions efficiently. On the other hand, ChatGPT is designed to understand the nuances of language, maintain conversational context, and provide detailed, focused answers. It can adjust its responses based on user clarifications, just like in a human conversation.

5. Understanding the User’s Perspective

One of the key advantages of ChatGPT over Google is its understanding of user intent. Google provides information based on keywords, whereas ChatGPT attempts to understand what the user is trying to accomplish. This human-like understanding can result in more targeted, practical responses, particularly for complex, multi-part technical questions.

6. Interactivity and Real-Time Clarifications

Interactivity is another area where ChatGPT shines. With Google, if the initial query does not yield the desired results, the user must redefine their search terms and try again. In contrast, a ChatGPT conversation allows for real-time clarifications and follow-up questions, leading to a more efficient and tailored information retrieval process.

7. Assimilating and Integrating Information

Google provides multiple sources of information, leaving the user with the task of assimilating and integrating it. ChatGPT, on the other hand, is capable of integrating information from various aspects into a coherent, comprehensive response, saving the user time and effort, and reducing potential confusion.

8. User-Friendly Explanations

Technical questions often require explanations that balance detail and comprehensibility. Google directs users to resources that may be overly technical, outdated, or too simplistic. ChatGPT, however, can provide detailed yet user-friendly explanations, bridging the gap between technical expertise and user understanding.

9. Limitations and the Path Ahead

While ChatGPT holds distinct advantages, it is not without limitations. It relies on the training data it has received, and as of its last update in September 2021, it may not have the most recent information. Moreover, while it can infer and generate responses based on the training data, it may not always be correct. The quality of its responses also relies heavily on the detail and accuracy of the input query.

10. Conclusion

In conclusion, while Google remains a powerful tool for wide-ranging searches, ChatGPT provides distinct advantages when it comes to detailed and technical queries. Its ability to understand context, maintain a conversational flow, offer interactive and real-time clarifications, and provide detailed yet user-friendly explanations makes it a superior choice. However, it is crucial for users to provide adequate and accurate details to fully leverage the capabilities of this AI model.

The Actual Dialogue 

Keith: I have a WP site with subscriptions. the subscriptions plugin sends emails such as reminders of renewals etc. Do these emails appear in the CPanel sent emails folder?

ChatGPT: No, the emails sent by your WordPress subscription plugin would not typically appear in the sent emails folder of your cPanel.

Here's why:

  1. Different Email Systems: WordPress and cPanel operate their email systems separately. WordPress, especially with a plugin, may be using a completely different mail server (SMTP) or a third-party email service to send emails. So, these sent emails may not show in your cPanel sent folder because they are sent from a different system.

  2. Server-side vs Client-side Tracking: When you send an email through an email client (like Gmail, Outlook, etc.), the sent mail is stored in your "Sent" folder because that's a feature of the email client. But when emails are sent directly through a server-side language like PHP (which WordPress is built on), they are usually not stored anywhere unless the system is specifically set up to do so.

For tracking emails sent from your WordPress site, you may need to install a separate plugin or use an email service that provides such logging or tracking feature.

Keep in mind that many hosting providers limit the amount of mail that can be sent from their servers to prevent spam, so it's often recommended to use a dedicated email sending service, especially for a site that sends a lot of emails like a subscription site. These services typically provide detailed logs and analytics as part of their offering.

Keith: Please note the website uses WordPress with a plugin, it is not a WordPress site in the way you have assumed. Sorry for not being clearer.

ChatGPT: I apologize if I misunderstood your initial question. Given your clarification, let me try to explain this again.

If your website is using WordPress as its CMS (Content Management System), and you're using a plugin (like WooCommerce Subscriptions or a similar one) to manage subscriptions and send emails, those emails are typically sent through the PHP mail function or SMTP and are not usually logged or stored anywhere on your website or in cPanel by default.

cPanel's email functionality is generally separate from your website's, even if they are hosted on the same server. Emails sent from WordPress wouldn't appear in the cPanel sent emails folder unless they were specifically routed through the email accounts set up via cPanel, which is not typically the case.

To keep a record or track emails sent from your WordPress plugin, you would need an additional solution like a mail logging plugin or use a transactional email service provider, such as SendGrid, Mailgun, or SMTP providers that provide logs and tracking for the emails you send.

Please remember to check the plugin settings and documentation as well. Some plugins might offer email logging or integration with certain email services. In addition, the hosting provider or the email sending service might have specific limitations or requirements that you need to be aware of.

If you require more specific advice, please provide the name of the plugin you're using for subscriptions and the method currently configured for sending emails from your WordPress installation.

Keith: So how can I check the emails were sent?

If you're using a WordPress website and want to verify that your emails are being sent, there are a few ways to do this:

  1. Email Logging Plugins: These plugins can log every email that your WordPress site sends. One such plugin is WP Mail Logging by MailPoet, which saves all emails sent by WordPress. You can later check this log to ensure emails are being sent.

  2. Email Deliverability Test: There are some plugins that allow you to send a test email to verify that your WordPress website can send emails. One such plugin is Check Email, which allows you to send test emails to an address of your choice, so you can verify that the email was sent and received.

  3. Transactional Email Services: If you're using a third-party SMTP service to send emails (which is recommended), they usually provide detailed analytics including whether or not an email was sent successfully. Services like SendGrid, Mailgun, or Postmark track every email sent, delivered, opened, clicked, and bounced. You'd need to check your service's dashboard for this information.

  4. Add Your Email: This might sound simple, but it can be an effective way to check. If possible, add your own email address as a recipient of the emails that your site sends out. This way, you can directly verify whether the emails are being sent and how they look when received.

Please note that the standard WordPress mail function is not the most reliable for sending emails, and a lot of WordPress emails end up in spam. Therefore, it's recommended to use an SMTP plugin to properly handle email delivery. Make sure your website's emails are configured correctly and are not being flagged as spam."


That's It! You may now draw your own conclusions, but for me as a business manager and developer, ChatGPT really 'does the biz'!

Wishing you all every success.


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About the author 

Keith Rowley MBA BSc (Hons)

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