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HotBot Inconsistencies

Last updated Jul. 11, 2003.
by Greg R.

These reports refer to HotBot when it used only DirectHit and Inktomi. The problems below do continue with Inktomi database and may occur with some of the others as well. This page aims to document both ongoing and short-lived inconsistent behavior on HotBot. For details on how it should work, see the full HotBot Review.

COUNTING: HotBot does not always count accurately. Since it started clustering results back in the late 1990s, the number of hits displayed seems to be an approximation of the number of sites which have one or more pages with the search string. On one search, the number given was 240. However, the actual number of records was only 139. While I did not take the time to check under each of the 139 sites to see how many more pages were there, at other times when I have done that, the number rarely equaled the given number. As another test, try entering any uncommon term (with less than a few hundred results) and then page forward and see if the numbers change.
Status: Ongoing

STOP WORDS: HotBot and the other Inktomi databases have an extensive, dynamic stop word list. Many common words and numbers will not be searched. The list changes as the frequency of terms in the database change. When a stop word is in a phrase, it may not be obvious that the whole phrase is not being searched. For example, on Oct. 22, 1999, the search "online world" apparently found 6,762,190 matches. However, online was a stop word that day, so the search was actually equivalent to the single word search of world. To check for this behavior, try searching each of the words within a phrase separately.
Status: Ongoing

VARYING SINGLE TERM RESULTS After setting search results to 25 or more (which avoids the possibility of Direct Hit results appearing first), enter a single term in the search box. Search it as Any, All, Exact Phrase, and Boolean Phrase. They all should find the same number, but they do not always do so. For example, using resectoscope as a search term on Oct. 22, 1999 found the following numbers. Click on the kind of search to try it today.

All the words


Any of the words


exact phrase


Boolean phrase


Status: Fixed

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