What gives with Google and the ? & Other questions about variable passing

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What gives with Google and the "?"?  I thought they said not to use
it, but more and more I see sites listed very high, ie in the top
twenty that have the question mark in the url.

Is it now ok to use it?

Also I just discovered usign php to code a page's url to pass
parameters, like


(I am a novice, as you can tell.)

I take it that Google does not penalize sites for using the / in the
urls.  Is this correct?

Thanks for any observations.
Best regards,


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