January 2003 Archive
AlltheWeb has added full Boolean searching from the advanced search page. After selecting the "boolean expression" drop down option, you can now use and, or, andnot, and parentheses for nesting. In addition, they have introduced a 'rank' operator, language detection, and new search tools.
First of all, the full Boolean searching with all three operators and nesting is a welcome addition. But it takes a bit to find where to use it. You have to use the Advanced Search and then select "boolean expression" from the drop down menu. Note that the NOT operation uses 'andnot' with no space. The old +, -, and the parentheses for an OR do not work when "boolean expression" is chosen, and the Boolean operators will not work unless it is, so be careful. The 'rank' operator also only works with "boolean expression" chosen and is supposed to boost results that contain the specific keywork. So a search such as
term1 or term2 rank term3 should change the ranking so that those records with term3 score higher, although it is still not required. But the 'rank' operator sometimes does strange things, so be wary of the results.
AlltheWeb now tries to identify searchers based on their IP address. It will then default to the main language or languages of that country plus English. This will appear on the simple search form as the default language limit with an "Any Language" option as well to the left. To change the default, just click on the language to go directly the language section of the preferences pages.
AlltheWeb also introduced a variety of quick links, bookmark shortcuts, and search options for Internet Explorer, Netscape, Opera, and Mac OS / Sherlock from their Search Tools page. You can use these tricks to search AlltheWeb directly from the address box, by highlighting a term on a Web page and then clicking a bookmark, and more search shortcuts.
Today Teoma officially announced the changes they implemented last week. The press release highlights their new advanced search features, KWIC display, improved relevance, better communities, and a larger database.
AltaVista's wild card or truncation symbol, the * or asterisk, has expanded so that it covers an unlimited number of characters. It used to only represent 0-5 extra characters and a double asterisk (**) had to be used for unlimited. Also, in addition to using the < for a before operation, the > works for after. This all probably happened sometime last year, but I have finally noticed and documented it now. Search Engine Feature Chart, Search Engines by Feature Page, and the AltaVista Review have all been updated.
I've updated the Search Engine Showdown Current Awareness page to reflect the death of the Northern Light alerts and to add several other alert services.
I've finally updated my Relative Size Showdown along with the related Change Over Time and Total Size Estimate analyses. Despite the efforts of several competitors, Google stayed solidly in the lead and for the first time since I've been doing these comparisons, Google ranked first on every one of the 25 searches. Even so, AlltheWeb grew significantly since last March and certainly narrowed the gap, while the oft-forgotten AltaVista also made a major size increase and pulled into third place. These comparisons looked at the results from 25 small searches where I could verify the results.
At least all the main search engines found more results than they did last March, except for WiseNut and the nearly dead Northern Light (via NLResearch). This was also the first comparison to include Gigablast. I neglected OpenFind since the results were too inconsistent and still full of errors. I should also note that I am just finally publishing these results, but the data is from Dec. 31, 2002. There has been much change since then with a new Google database and further updates at AlltheWeb and others. Still, I hope it is useful as one snapshot in time of how the size of the search engines databases compare with each other.
A full announcement is supposed to be coming out on Jan. 21, but already the Teoma site is now offering an advanced search page and a customization page. The advanced search makes using the new advanced features introduced in November much easier to use. It includes word filters, phrase options, field searches in title or URL (but these can not be combined), expanded language limits, a geographic region limit, and a date limit. There are now 10 language limits, with English and Swedish being the new additions. You can get up to 100 results at a time on the advanced search or by using the customization option. And they have added spelling suggestions for English terms. In addition, they are now claiming increased relevance satisfaction and a database of 500 million URLs from a crawl of 1 billion. Teoma Review updated.
GP notes a couple nice new features at AltaVista's news search. There is now a date range option and a limit for articles with images. Remember that AltaVista's news search includes older news articles back a year or more, unlike the news search engines from Google and AlltheWeb which only go back 30 days and 7 days respectively. Unfortunately for Mozilla or Netscape 7 users, the calendars for the new AltaVista date limits do not work, but at least the dates can still be entered manually. AltaVista News review and News Search Engines pages updated.
FAST announces an agreement with Espotting (a paid ranking search engine like Overture). FAST will provide the general search engine results at Espotting's site after the paid ranking results. Also, the press release notes that "Espotting will provide their top three paid listings on AlltheWeb's European search results pages." So European searches will get Espotting "Sponsored Results" while the rest of the world will continue to see "Sponsored Results" from Overture. These are separate from teh regular search results at AlltheWeb. Apparently, the searcher location will be determined by top level domain origin of the searcher, so it will not always guess right.
divine, Inc. seems to be driving the nail even further into Northern Light's coffin. The once-important search engine was officially shut down at the beginning of 2001, but at least the Current News search and the pay per view Special Collection continued. (And the Web search engine also remained available via NLResearch.com.) But now, Northern Light states that "Effective January 1st 2003, divine has discontinued the sale of its special collection articles on a pay per view basis." Gary Price has also confirmed that their very useful Current News search will soon be shut down. Their Alerts have already stopped working. You can still search and get the citations for Special Collection documents, but since accounts have been shut down, there is no access to the full text. How long NLResearch.com will continue to work and offer a Web search database remains to be seen, but according to their Accounts Help page, they are not accepting any new enterprise customers either.
Northern Light offered some unique and very useful databases and services. It is a pity to see it go and to have missed the chance at having it realize its full potential.
Today Ask Jeeves announced that banners ads have been banished from the Ask Jeeves sites. Instead, they "will focus on its core offerings including Branded Response and Premier Listings." They also note that interstitials (pop-up ads) were also banished recently.