Searching The Internet
Published April 2000
Updated 20 November 2003


The internet is a mine of information and at first glance it can look both intimidating and disorganised, but fear not. Accessing information is done through the use of Search Engines which check for keywords and content tags in the headings of web pages or scan the content of pages.

There are a number of Search Engines which will search a range of search engines simultaneously. The responses are usually listed by search engine, so always move down as even though the first engine consulted may show no responses, the third may have exactly what you are looking for. My favourite multi-searching search engine is Metacrawler as it is easy to use and simultaneously consults Google, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, About, FAST, Find What, Look Smart Overture & Yahoo search engines (among others). It also offers an Advanced Search which allows you to search for all the words, any of the words or the exact phrase as well as giving you date and content filters.

Three search engines that will search a range of search engines simultaneously are:

Metacrawler    http://www.metacrawler.com/
DogPile    http://www.dogpile.com/

If you prefer a single search engine - the stand-outs are
Gigablast    http://gigablast.com/
&
Google    http://www.google.co.nz/

Perhaps one of the most important things to keep in mind when searching is that the web page author decides what content they put up on their page, and as such, you need to keep an open mind in terms of possible bias. You can not necessarily assume a journalistic objectivity.

The best way to deal with this is to look at a range of information sources on the internet. I tend to pay more credence to information on sites which are not anonymous as that often gives me an idea of what angle the information may be presented from.

The author also decides what keywords they want included on their page and as such your use of a particular term may differ from the author's. It is best to avoid using very broad terms when searching. For example if you do a search using the words Siamese Cats you will get a much more manageable number of responses than if you searched using just the word Cats. If you wish to find only sites where your keywords appear as a phrase then enclose them in speech marks.

When searching the internet it is wise to alter your browsers' (Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc.) settings so that cookies are not automatically accepted, and that when asked, you only accept cookies that are sent back to themselves. I'll be covering cookies in more detail next month, but in the interim, if you have any queries as to how to change your browser settings and why, then please don't hesitate to email me. Likewise, if there are any other queries or topics you'd like covered in these columns, and you are a CCS client send an email to me frogwrite@paradise.net.nz letting me know. Please mention that you are a CCS member and which branch you belong to.

This page last updated on 7/01/2003 21:21

© Glynne MacLean 1999-2003

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