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Give the user a chance to see examples. On iOS, there's a help button when Siri is listening. Tapping it gives you suggestions on things it can do:


I think command based systems always come with a learning curve because ultimately you're giving a command. Affordances are not present for CLI or command based tools. The only option I can think of is context-sensitive tab-completion or context-aware suggestions. Related discussion on Hacker News. That being said, the example you've quoted reminds me of ...


You've asked for graceful degradation... this isn't ideal, but a variation of idea 1 would work reasonable OK. Give user a text field with a search button next to it. User types in their search string and hit search. Page refresh to show them a list of the best matches as radio selections. User can choose to select an option, or choose to search again. ...

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