October 2002 Archive
The Excite Networks (who run iWon and the portal portion of Excite) have launched a new portal. MyWay.com boasts that is has no banners or pop-ups. The portal content is similar to that at Excite and iWon, and the search engine and directory come from Google (and Google's implementation of the Open Directory). So how are they going to make money off of this one? They claim "My Way makes money through clearly identified sponsored listings and text links. . . . Does it work? Yes. In fact, we will be profitable in our first month of operation." Time will tell. I did not seen any sponsored listings yet, but the portal content is fairly slim and undifferentiated from other portals. At least their Google implementation includes the cached links as well.
The news and blog search engine Daypop will be unavailable for awhile. "NOTICE: Daypop will go offline starting Oct. 25 for a couple weeks." Apparently, Dan Chan, who runs Daypop, is moving.
Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman have posted their study "Localized Google Search Result Exclusions: Statement of Issues and Call for Data" that has found that at least 100 sites have been excluded "in whole or in part from the French google.fr and German google.de compared with google.com." The sites were removed by Google to avoid legal problems with laws in those countries.
Alacritude announces that it will have 2 million of its full-text articles from eLibrary.com included in Inktomi's Index Connect. What this means for the searcher is that some results may come up in Inktomi search partners (MSN Search, HotBot, Overture) that are links to full-text periodical articles available from eLibrary. However, to view the full-text article, you will need to pay for a subscription to eLibrary or at least sign-up for a free trial. Based on my tests, and despite the announcement, it is only the titles and perhaps some other metadata that is indexed, not the full-text of the articles. Is this a good thing? It seems to me like it is more of an ad for eLibrary than anything else.
So how old are those search engine databases? I've posted a new Freshness Showdown. Google, MSN Search, HotBot, and AltaVista all had pages indexed in the last day while AlltheWeb and GigaBlast had pages from 5 and 6 days back, respectively. The comparison looked at URLs, all of which are updated daily, and if the search engines would recrawl those URLs they would have the current days date. The analysis notes the most recent pages at each search engine, a rough idea of the general date of most of the rest of the records, and the oldest page found. On the other side, several search engines had some very old portions of their databases dating back six months, a year, and more.
For anyone following the Google Answers commercial service, there are several recent interesting writings about it. Jessamyn West has a enlightening read in her Searcher article "Information for Sale: My Experience With Google Answers" [10(9): 14- , Oct. 2002.] But her story did not end there as her follow-up posting "How I Tried to Resign from Google Answers but Found I Was Already Fired" shows. And then there is a similar story "Silicon Samurai: Questions About Google Answers" posted at Geek.com on July 17.
I find the economics especially interesting. Maybe Google will make enough to continue Google Answers, but it certainly does not seem that the researchers are going to make much. Nor does it pose much threat to professional researchers, information professionals, or librarians. Oh, and if you want to link to Google Answers, don't use the currently non-functioning link on Google's Services and Tools page (http://answers.google.com). It needs to be an https link: https://answers.google.com. Maybe Google should pay a researcher to help them fix their own internal links?
After several months of waiting, Yahoo! announced today (during their conference call announcing third quarter profits) that they have extended Google as their search engine partner even though the "Powered by Google" logo and text are gone. In addition, they have mixed up Yahoo! directory entries with Google records in their search results. Instead of having Yahoo! directory entries under the 'Web Sites' heading and Google records under 'Web Pages,' they now both come under 'Web Matches.' Then their is a follow-up search option to just search the directory under the "Search in . . . Directory" link in the upper right corner. The advanced search has also changed significantly. It now looks much more like the Google advanced search. See their What's Changed with Yahoo! Search and Danny Sullivan's report for more details.
I can't say I'm impressed with the change. The division between the directory listing and search engine results was often useful and made it easier to teach the difference between directory results and search engine results. The mixture of results may help on some searches but will probably lead to more confusion on others. And with a greater emphasis on plain search engine results, what is the long term future of the Yahoo directory? If you liked the old Yahoo!, try one of the international versions like Yahoo UK or Yahoo Australia which at least for now still have the old separation.
The telegraph.co.uk reports that Google is considering user fees for some sections of its site like the new News search. According to the article, Google's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Field Operations, Omid Kordestani, said: "We may experiment with ways of monetising after we have got the service right. Charging would be one approach. So far we have found it better to keep the service free and charge for targetted advertising." It sounds like they are just floating the idea with no definite plans to start charging yet, but it is one more reason to be comfortable with the Google alternatives. First seen at Pandia.
Today, AlltheWeb announced their new advanced search features primarily available on their advanced search page. Most of the announcement is for features that have been available since Sept. 12. Their new KWIC display that has been available since Sept. 24 and that they call "visual relevancy" is also mentioned.
Even though these features have been available for a few weeks, it is a refreshing change to see a search engine actually announcing and publicizing advanced search features. Too often in the past there has been no publicity or even acknowledgment of new features.
Heard of BoardReader before? It's another search engine to use to try and get at opinions like Google Groups and Epinions. BoardReader covers Web-based bulletin boards and discussion forums. It is an alternative to MessageKing, another search engine for forum postings which I have always found much more difficult to use. BoardReader finds many more postings than MessageKing and it also includes a cached copy, the date, and the number of replies. I'll add it to my Opinion Searching page once I find the time to update that one.