How to choose a DuckDuckGo cheatsheet topic

If you want to develop a DuckDuckGo cheatsheet and you’ve got the technicals down, the next task is to choose a cheatsheet topic. As with naming things, this can be harder than it sounds.

Certain topics are better suited to be cheatsheets than others; because the cheatsheet is a static file, it’s better to provide information which is unlikely to change, such as a list of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan. With that in mind, here are some good sources of inspiration for your cheatsheet.

Scan the cheatsheet corpus

Get inspiration from association. The DuckDuckGo goodie repo maintains all of the static cheatsheets. Have a look at them, maybe you’ll get an idea for something similar to what’s already been done. I made the GNU Screen cheatsheet after I saw the tmux one - there was a lot of copy and paste involved!

Check the instant answer request list

One way to get cheatsheet ideas is to think about technical and trivia subjects you’re interested in. That’s “supply”. Another way is to look at “demand” - i.e. what people have asked for. Helpfully, the DuckDuckGo community maintains an extensive list of instant answer ideas. Have a browse!

Mine Google AdWords

Another way to view demand is to check search traffic. This is an old SEO trick to find common associations with a keyword using the Google AdWords keywords planner tool. For example I used the tool to find the top 50 searches associated with the term “cheatsheet”:

Keyword Avg. Monthly Searches (exact match only)
markdown cheatsheet 1900
vim cheatsheet 1600
git cheatsheet 1600
regex cheatsheet 1300
vi cheatsheet 1000
jquery cheatsheet 480
fantasy football cheatsheet 390
cheatsheets 390
html cheatsheet 390
subnet cheatsheet 390
python cheatsheet 390
fantasy football cheatsheets 320
xss cheatsheet 320
sql cheatsheet 320
gdb cheatsheet 320
emacs cheatsheet 260
latex cheatsheet 260
linux cheatsheet 210
screen cheatsheet 210
r cheatsheet 210
svn cheatsheet 170
php cheatsheet 170
html5 cheatsheet 170
sql injection cheatsheet 170
ruby cheatsheet 170
regular expression cheatsheet 140
bash cheatsheet 140
uml cheatsheet 140
css3 cheatsheet 110
xpath cheatsheet 90
perl cheatsheet 70
unix cheatsheet 70
django cheatsheet 70
subnet mask cheatsheet 70
c# cheatsheet 70
powershell cheatsheet 70
asciidoc cheatsheet 70
fantasy cheatsheet 50
rails cheatsheet 50
mediawiki cheatsheet 40
regular expressions cheatsheet 40
zfs cheatsheet 40
free fantasy football cheatsheets 30
dailybeast cheatsheet 30
dmv cheatsheet 30
fantasy football draft cheatsheet 30
fantasy baseball cheatsheet 30
photobert cheatsheet 30
cheatsheet html 30
autosys cheatsheet 30

If nothing in this list appeals, try searching against similar terms like “cheat sheet”, “help”, “FAQ” and “usage” to find something that inspires you.

Conclusion

Developing cheatsheets should be fun. If you’re wrestling with a potential cheatsheet topic remember that there is a large developer community waiting to help you. The DuckDuckHack site is a good source of information. It has a FAQ, a guide to picking the right plugin type for your idea and information on how to join the DuckDuckGo Slack site. Useful information can also be found in the quack and hack cheatsheet!

Once you’ve drafted your cheatsheet, consider using my cheatsheet checker tool. It finds common syntax and data errors which can make developing a cheatsheet easier.

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David Farrell

David is the founder and editor of PerlTricks.com. An organizer of the New York Perl Meetup, he works for ZipRecruiter as a software developer.

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