Review of HotBot (Inktomi)
Last updated Apr. 15, 2004.
HotBot, owned by Terra/Lycos, is one of older Web search engines. Originally it just used the Inktomi database and then added Direct Hit and the Open Directory. Then in Dec. 2002, it relaunched as a multiple search engine with Inktomi, Fast, Google, and Teoma. In July 2003, they stayed with the same four databases, but renamed them HotBot, Lycos, Google, and Ask Jeeves. Lycos was dropped in March 2004. This review covers HotBot using the Inktomi database, which they now call "HotBot." See the Google and Teoma (Ask Jeeves) reviews for more details on how their database and interface work, bearing in mind that not all features are available at HotBot. The basic search screen shows no options, but choose Advanced Search for the full range of search features. To see how HotBot used to work, see the old Search Engine Showdown Review. Use the table of contents on the left to navigate this review.
Databases: HotBot offers the choice of three search engine databases:
Switching between them is as simple as click a button. This review will focus on the features of the HotBot database which comes from Inktomi. Sponsored links on the top come from Overture while the side ones may come from other advertisers. While HotBot (Inktomi) includes some PDF, MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, there is no limit for searching them.
Boolean Searching: HotBot offers full Boolean searching. Use the operators AND, OR, and NOT. Searching can be nested using parentheses. Operators must be in upper case. HotBot can also use - for NOT. Under Word Filters, it has a drop down menu choice for All the Words, Any of the Words, Not the Words, Exact Phrase, and Not Exact Phrase. These can be used to add additional terms or combining a phrase search with a Boolean search.
Proximity Searching: Phrases can also be designated by enclosing the phrase in "double quotes" or using Exact Phrase in the Word Filters in combination with a query in the top box.
Truncation: No truncation is available.
Apparently not as of April 2004. Previously, HotBot and the other Inktomi databases
were sometimes case sensitive for unusual usages of case. If search terms are entered
in all lower case, all upper case, or with an initial capital, all mixtures of
upper and lower case are searched. If a search term contains one or more UPPER
case letters in the middle of a word such as
Field Searching: HotBot offers a variety of field searching capabilities. The Word Filter drop down menu includes option for searching Body, Title, Referring URL, and Contained URLs. The latter must be a complete URL, and not just a portion of one. The title word search can also be entered in the query box by using the title:word syntax. Other field searches are possible using the designations listed below. HotBot used to have a FAQ on Advanced Search Features that included some of the following. Most of these are just the language behind the advanced search form.
Limits: Several are available in the advanced search:
Formerly Unique: One unique limit was the Page Type limit, introduced in 1997. This could be either the default Any, Top Page, or a user specified Page Depth. Choosing the Top Page option limited the results to the central page on a Web site (i.e. http://www.name.edu/). Page Depth required a number, with the default of 3, that would limit how far down a subdirectory hierarchy HotBot would display results. A new Page Depth limit added in September 1998 was the Personal Page limit, which refers less to the depth of the page than to the structure of the URL which identifies a page as a personal page. In Sept. 2002, the page depth feature no longer worked. And by March 2003, the Page Type limit was gone completely. Try the directory depth limit as MSN Search advanced instead.
Stop Words: HotBot will not search single stop words like 'the' or 'an' but within a search such as 'to be or not to be' and even 'the the' the terms will be searched.
Sorting: Results are sorted by relevance. However, only a limited number of results per domain will be displayed, often two to four.
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