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Search Site

Alamo PC Bookstore


Alamo PC Members Be Sure To Check Out:

* Some Related Links On The Internet


Search Hints and Tips

Sites Listing Specific Groups Of Resources
* The MotherLoad Of Search Engines
* Virtual Library W3C World Wide Web Consortium
* CyberStacks
* US Universities
* Travlang's Translating Dictionaries

A Few of the Many Search Engine Sites
* Yahoo
* Google
* Alta Vista
* Excite
* WebCrawler
* HotBot
* iTools Find It !
* Go
* The Dogpile(Go fetch!)
* 411WEB
* About
* Looksmart


Search Hints and Tips

There are hundreds of search engines on the Internet. We suggest that you select two or three and become an expert at using them. We have found that we have two primary search "attitudes": browsing and focusing.

When we browse we are usually looking for general information about broad topics. What can we find on the Internet about the environment? Insurance? Quilting? For this type of search, we turn first to the resources, or hierarchical indices. These arrange topics into broad categories. If we're looking for information about water pollution, for example, a hierarchy might be arranged as environment--pollution--water pollution--rivers. This type of index has several advantages for general searches. They typically only list web sites, as opposed to individual web pages, so we end up with a manageable list to work with. Also, they often have a human intelligence guiding the categorizations, so the selections tend to be rationale. When we are doing a browse search, we turn to these resource lists, for example:

  • The World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Subject Catalogue
  • The Virtual Library, provided by the WorldWide Web Consortium (W3C), offers a catalog of hundreds of subjects. A unique aspect of this catalog is that each subject is kept current by an individual, called a "maintainer".
  • TradeWave Galaxy
  • Galaxy is provided by Trade Wave Corporation, formerly known as EINet. The hierarchical subject directory is built with submissions and human updates. The search engine supports Boolean searching as well as allowing for searching by network tool, such as gopher, telnet, and World Wide Web.
  • American Universities
  • Not a search engine, but rather a list of colleges and Universities in the US. Good resource for finding college information.
When we conduct a focused search, we are looking for a very specific piece of information. When were grizzly bears added to the endangered species act? Who is the president of Zambia? Is there a recipe for fudge brownies? In these types of searches, we will turn to search engines that use some form of Boolean logic to help us find exactly the information we need. The search engines we turn to most often are:
  • Yahoo
  • Originally written by two grad students at Stanford, Yahoo is now provided by Yahoo, Inc. The service consists of a subject catalog divided into 14 top level categories and hundreds of sub-categories. Yahoo alerts users to how many links are under each category and if any new ones have been added recently. Short annotations are provided. Yahoo is very large and well known, and is the first place many people go for a subject catalog.
  • The Lycos Home Page: Hunting WWW Information
  • Originally provided by Carnegie-Mellon University, this site is now maintained by Lycos, Inc. It supports Boolean AND/OR searching, relevance feedback, and allows the user to control the level and amount of feedback, as well as the level of relevance. It brings back annotation about the site from the page itself and has very detailed FAQs about both the service and the searching engine.
  • Excite
  • Excite indexes over one million Web pages and Usenet news articles posted during the previous two weeks. Its search engine doesn't use Boolean syntax; you simply type in words. This makes it easy to use, but the results can sometimes be confusing. Excite offers relevance feedback, and provides percentage confidence ratings.
  • WebCrawler Searching
  • Originally provided by the University of Washington, this site is now maintained by America Online, although you don't need an America Online account to use it. It allows basic phrase and Boolean AND/OR searching.
  • HotBot
  • An extremely fast search engine, as sponsored by Hotwired online magazine.
Every search engine has its own operating instructions. Here are some search terms that you may encounter:
For more detailed information on search query formats Htgrep Query Formats Boolean Searching: Boolean logic uses terms such as AND OR and NOT to group words together to limit or expand the number of documents returned.

Key word in context (KWIC): These searches will return the key word and a specified number of other words near the key word to give you the context in which the key word was found.

Phrase Searching: Allows searching of phrases when available.

Proximity Searching: Allows searching of one term within a specified number of words of another term, narrowing the search.

Relevance Feedback: Attempts to measure how closely the retrieval matches your query, usually in numbers between 0 and 100 or 0 and 1,000.

Truncated Searching: Allows searching on different word endings or plurals with the use of a truncation wild card symbol. For example, if the truncation symbol is *, then the search term win* will return items that contain wind, windows, and winners. Car* will return both cars and cartoon.