In Search of a Search Engine

One of the most troublesome aspects of the Internet is just trying to find what you're looking for. Most people start at a search engine. But what do you ask it? Some search engines, like Ask Jeeves specialize in answering "natural language" questions. Others, such as Google, rely on something known as "collective judgement," rating pages by popularity. So, what's the best search engine?

The answer is that there is no one-size-fits-all search engine. Often times, the perceived quality of a search engine depends entirely on the question being asked. After all, you wouldn't go to a tourism information booth to ask about Modernist period literature. Similarly, though Yahoo may be a great resource for movies and other popular information, you may find that a specialty search engine such as the Librarians' Index to the Internet is a better tool for research.

If you are an advanced searcher, you may need fine grain control over your search query. Search engines such as All the Web allow you to be very precise about what your searching for. On the other hand, search engines such as Teoma and WiseNut will offer suggestions for refining your results. So, a search for "Cape Cod" may offer suggestions such as "Cape Cod Real Estate" and "Cape Cod Lodging."

NoodleTools has a page titled "Choose the Best Search for your Information Need" which categorizes search engines by the type of information you're looking for. So, next time you're looking for information, consider beginning your hunt at a guide to search engines, rather than a search engine itself.

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