Saturday, February 3, 2007

Search Engines

Whew! Those search engines certainly are set-up differently. To test all the search engines fairly, I used the same search terms each time, Tammy Paris, Osage Community Players, ocpinc, Stem Cell and mythbusters. I started my exploring of these new engines at home and then checked to see if they worked the same on the circ computer, which is my only computer at work. For me clusty was the only one I would be interested in using at this time. I'm hoping the others will improve with time and I think a couple sites had "beta" in the upper corner of the window, so I'm hoping they just need to work out the quirks. Had some nice features such as giving you a snapshot of the website to the side of the link. It has advanced search options including limiting by language, date updated, etc., Also to the right of the screen was a list to let you refine your search by excluding terms or choosing specific terms from the list. It will also let you choose how your results are displayed, links only, links & snapshots, or links & Snapshots & directories under that link. It does have sponsored sites at both the top and bottom of the results list, but they are highlighted in blue and labeled as sponsored site if you look for it. It does require signing up for an account for full functioning.

It didn't find me however when doing the "Tammy Paris" search. However, it's the only one that found the really, really, old OCP, Inc. website that should have been deleted off of the local providers server a long time ago. People search: It seemed much more useful for someone looking for a date then a traditional people search. It is the only site however that found my flickrsite when I searched for "Tammy Paris."After realizing that it was searching Myspace, friendster, and other social sites, (it provides a list and also tells you at the bottom of each link where the info came from), I tried to search for a friend that has a Myspace page and lives in Linn. So I searched by her first name, female, zip code with a 25 miles and no age limit. It didn't find her but did find a teenager and besides showing her picture on the map site to the left it showed what street she lives on and a small piece of the road map to get there. I found this to be spooky and potentially dangerous. Back to that -- it's really important people especially kids and teens understand who can see the information they put online!
Web search: What makes this sites search different is it lets members rate the link relevance and block links from future searches. I didn't register so I'm not certain if the block feature would only work for that particular session, on a home computer etc., on the person's account or what. This would determine if it was useful for patrons searching on the library's computers. It appeared to be searching only wikipedia and Google for its results. This site uses clusters to show search results. To the left of the page it shows the keywords and the number of links. You can also click on a sources link to see where it searches. Some sites it uses are Ask, MSN, and Gigablast.

When I did my test searches it found a page with info on me as the third result. It found all relevant information in the "Mythbusters" search. It did a good job with "stem cell" search. The cluster topics were divided into helpful topics such as embryonic, cord blood, scientific, therapy and debate. Advanced search features will let you filter. It has a direct link to wikipedia and it will also let you change the font size on the screen (small button on bottom of page). The clusty site will do an image search, blog search and a news search. Other neat features were the icons at the end of the search results. The first icon will open the website in a new window. The 2nd icon is a magnifying glass within the link list. The third icon shows you what cluster the link came from. This site wouldn't work at all at the circ computer. Sort of worked at home on the DSL but wouldn't stay "up and running" long enough to check out the search results if it got that far. This was on Feb. 2nd and 3rd.

From the front page however I learned that the site has a link to make bookmarking very easy. It also has a feature called "claim this site" but that requires an account. This site allows uses to vote on relevance of their search results to improve searches (and depending on the users it could or it could turn out to be a popularity contest). It also has an adshare program so the user can earn up to 70% of revenue from ads on your bookmarked pages. This also has some snapshots of pages. It searches Google, yahoo, MSN and uses an algorithm and tags to do the searching. These results were also arranged in clusters though visually presented differently than clusty. When searching my name the results didn't display any terms that seemed related except the city of Paris. Stem Cell did work in presenting keywords that appeared relevant but once I had clicked on the links page I couldn't go back to the visual chart and try another direction. This site didn't have an about statement that I could find. I was trying to discover their method of searching or what sites they used etc., to know the relevance and validity of the search method. This site was also not very visually appealing to me but it was "clean" and sparse and that may appeal to others. This site didn't work well at the circ computer. At home it worked fine. The results are arranged in a similar way to mind-mapping charts which display one "thought" flowing into another thought and sometimes flowing back around to the original thought. This site did find me on the OCP, Inc website, however when searching for OCP, Inc it found all sorts of similarly named sites but not the group. When I tried Osage Community Players it found one relevant link but this also did not go to the theater group's page rather it went to OsageConnect's community links. The stem cell search did find all relative sites. The Mythbusters search found mostly related sites, but not all were clear to me why they showed up. The site does make a mark in the center of the "paper icon" so you know you've been to that site. This site is a gateway which provides many services including a search engine. It found relevant sites for all the searches except my name. It found way to many pages to look through them all, but narrowing the search with quotation marks worked. The other sites didn't find that many pages to worry about narrowing the search. The sites that appear on yahoo are submitted by the web page designer. They can do a free submission or pay a fee for guaranteed inclusion in the Yahoo search index and directory. Of course the sponsored sites and products are all fee based. Yahoo does provide a variety of advanced search options and it will allow you to change your search preferances and either save them to your computer or to your yahoo account.

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