The Second Quarter



The Scouting Reports
Please understand that trying to "dunk" on the Web is like trying to score on Dikembe Mutombo, some time you can and sometimes it is nearly impossible. The Web is a work in progress and is not the best place to do "research." In fact, within the next eight years I believe its dominant use will be advertising. However, there is tons of valuable information on the Web. The ability to score depends on what you are looking for. As is stated in the second half of the "First Quarter," specific searches are found easier on engine as opposed to directories.

The Scouting Report-Engines
The Stars

Excite
Per, NetGuide magazine,www.netguide.com, Excite is the best search engine. I did not explain this previously, for simplicity's sake, but engines have a component called the "spider" or "crawlers" that frequently search the net for new sites to add to its library of pages.

Excite performs the search more frequently than any other search engine, therefore its information is the most up to date. In addition, Excite performs a very useful "confidence interval ." Excite lists a percentage of certainty by each site, the higher the percentage the more likely it is that the information provided is what you requested.

Next to each site listed is a "more like this," command which will further refine the search if the site beside it is the information you wanted. Excite also provides links to people finders, e-mail addresses, and the yellow pages.

PC Computing, www.zdnet.com, rated it as and "acceptable" engine with three stars out of five. The magazine's criticism is that it is difficult to narrow searches, should be used only when you are not sure of the terms you are searching for. While some engine do allow you to refine searches better than Excite, I still believe excite is an excellent engine.

AltaVista
AltaVista is my favorite engine. Any one who has ever used AltaVista would agree it is the fastest engine on the Web, and its indexes are updated almost as frequently as Excite's. Furthermore, it has been my experience that you get a more complete search with AltaVista than any other engine out there.

On the other hand, with AltaVista I used to get a lot of junk, for example "server cannot access this site" or "outdated information." You'll always have junk, but as a rule the more sites an engine brings up, the more junk you get. In the next section, we discuss some of AltaVista's excellent search commands.

The Rest of the Team
Lygos is the oldest member of the team. Per the NetGuide and PC Computing scouting reports, it is due for some major surgery to improve its performance.

WebCrawler is the smallest member of the team. It was designed to concentrate on key sites within a subject area, thereby eliminate much of the duplication you see in the starters. It's a pretty good player, but my experience has been that it does a good deal of duplication too.

HotBot is the "sixth man." Like AltaVista it is a powerful engine, that allows you to limit searches. However, its library is not updated as often as the "starters," thereby giving the user a considerable amount of "air balls" or junk.

The Scouting Report - Directory and Hybrid
Yahoo!
is the most popular search tool on the Web, and as I stated previously it is an excellent tool for very genral searches. In fact, one could start a general search on Yahoo! and dive for more specifics using one of the engines. This is an excellent "assist" if you are not sure about how to approach a search. Per PC Computing's scouting report, Yahoo! is well organized making it easy to access information. However, it only searches in very general terms.

Infoseek
The Washington Post thinks very highly of Infoseek. Indeed, it is very useful because you can search general terms and refine them in the same tool. Unlike many of the other search tools, I have noticed that Infoseek does not provide a lot of duplicate information. However, it is a little slow relative to Alta Vista.

LookSmart is a new player, and there is not much published information on it. However, in my assessment of the tool, I found it to be a little unfriendly.

In the "Third Quarter" I draft the three best player, AltaVista, Excite, and Yahoo! and examine thier game. Most likely these "engines" will give you the results you seek.



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