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Review of Lycos

Dead Database!

As of April 1, 2004, Lycos dropped the use of the FAST (AlltheWeb) database and now uses Yahoo!'s database. Many of the advanced features listed below are now gone. Up to ten LookSmart directory hits still show up first.

This review will continue to be available to provide an historical record of the search capabilities Lycos used to have when it used the FAST database. See also an older review, from before 2000, when it had its own database.

Lycos offers a Web search engine, a subject directories, and several other services. In April 1999, it made its main directory a version of the Open Directory. In terms of general searching, Lycos made significant changes during the summer of 1997, tossing out their old search system for a new one. Then in January 2000, their advanced search switched again, this time to the FAST database. With the demise of the FAST (AlltheWeb) database in March 2004, Lycos switched to Yahoo!'s Inktomi database. Use the table of contents on the left to navigate this review.

For News

See Lycos News Stories



  • Ads (Sponsored Links): Overture and Lycos' own AdBuyer
  • Web Results: Lycos Network Content, 10 LookSmart Ads, then FAST (AlltheWeb) database
  • News: Lycos and FAST News databases
  • Directory: Open Directory (but only accessible from link, not in regular search results)
  • Images: Available under "Multimedia." This is a FAST database.
  • Audio & Video: Available under "Multimedia." This is a FAST database.

Lycos has several databases from which it delivers search results. The Web Results section can be confusing. For common queries, the first listing under "Web Results" is a collection of links from inside the Lycos Network and specific advertisers. Then, for about 50,000 keywords, there are ten listings from LookSmart. These are called "commercial listings" and are basically ads. Then come the results from the FAST Web search database.

The ads at the top are also from a variety of sources. The first 2-4 numbered "sponsored link" listings are from Overture. The rest of the first six numbered listings are from Lycos' own AdBuyer program. On the right margin in colored boxes are four more AdBuyer ads.

  * Additional access point to the FAST database
  * Some advanced features
  * Extensive portal content

  * Excessive ads including the LookSmart ones on the top of the "Web Results"
  * No full Boolean searching and missing other advanced features that AlltheWeb has
  * Sometimes has an older version of Fast database than AlltheWeb

Default Operation:
Multiple search terms are processed as an AND operation in both the regular and advanced search.

Boolean Searching: Lycos allows only the use of a + for AND and - for NOT, but no Boolean operators. The advanced search has a drop down menu with choices for "all of the words," "any of the words," or "the exact phrase." If no + or - marks are used and the drop down menu is not changed, the search will run an automatic AND operation on the standard search screen.

Proximity Searching: Phrase searching is available by using "double quotes" around a phrase.

Truncation: Lycos originally automatically truncated search terms, and then switched in the summer of 1999 to no support for truncation. With the FAST database, there continues to be no truncation capabilities.

Case Sensitivity: Lycos is not case sensitive. All search terms look for a match regardless of upper and lower case are searched.

Field Searching: The following field searches are available in the advanced search usually in drop down menus.

title: Hits have the term(s) in the HTML title element. This syntax can be used in the regular search box. the...Title Hits have the term(s) in the HTML title element. Drop down menu from Advanced Search the...URL Pages have the term(s) somewhere in the URL (host name, path, or filename). the...Referring URL Searches for pages that link to the specified URL or portion of the URL.

Limits: In the advanced search there is a URL/Site limit for restricting to or excluding specific domains. There are also 47 language limits. Only one language limit at a time can be used. Unlike on AlltheWeb, a language limit cannot be combined with a field search. Here is the full list as of Aug. 2003:

  • Afrikaans
  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Basque
  • Belarusian
  • Bulgarian
  • Catalan
  • Chinese (simp)
  • Chinese (trad)
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Estonian
  • Faroese
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Frisian
  • Gallegan
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Malay
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Vietnamese
  • Welsh

Stop Words: Lycos does not have stop words and common words can be searched.

Sorting: Sites are sorted by relevance score. There are no options for sorting alphabetically, by site, or by date.

Display: Only ten hits at a time are displayed. Lycos displays the title, a keyword-in-context extract, and the URL. No date, language, or file size information is available. The "Sidesearch" (formerly "Fast Forward") link after the title opens up the result on the right and move the search results to a frame or pane on the left. As some point in Spring 2001, Lycos added a translation capability, with a link after each record and directly at It uses the same Systan software that AltaVista uses. The translation page still exists but the link from the results is gone as of Sept. 2002.

Lycos Search Documentation
Press Releases

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