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    TOP    News :  Regional:  The Back Fence       

The Back Fence

For those new to the Internet...

Search Engines


by: Ken Russell

Everyone talks about surfing the Net. Surfing means poking about to see what interesting web sites you can find. You can surf or browse the web in two ways:
  • Use a Search Engine, such as Yahoo and type in a few key words to see what comes up.
  • Click on a hyper link from within a web page to see where it takes you. Such as the Back and Forward Button on this page.

You can also go directly to a web page if you know its' URL.

Search engines regularly scan all the text of all (yes, all) documents on the Web and keep up to date indices of the subjects discussed in the web sites. Yahoo is rather like a Table of Contents of a book - it organizes information by subject matter

You give a few key words and the search engine will locate all the web pages containing those words, often refered to as hits. In some cases, this list of hits will be much too long to be really helpful. In those cases, you must then narrow your search - be more specific about what you're looking for. Learning to choose the words and phrases you wish to search on is a matter of practice and see the results, then do it again.

Simple Search

Simple searches find entries that include all of the search terms. Search results are ranked and displayed 10-25 sites at a time. The sites that are displayed are grouped by their category.

Searches with multiple terms will automatically insert an "and" between all the terms, so that only sites with all of the search words in them will be returned.

Boolean Search

There are several boolean operators to choose from, they are: or, and, and andnot. Terms linked by the and operator will return only those sites that match all of the search terms linked by the and operator. This is the default, if you don't use any boolean operators, then only those sites that contain at least one occurrence of each search term will be returned..

Terms linked by the or operator will return those sites that match any of the search terms linked by or. For example:

grey or gray and parrot

Terms linked by the andnot operator will exclude all sites that match the search term following the andnot. For example:

random andnot house
will find sites about randomness, but exclude sites about the publisher, Random House.

Wildcard Search

The search can do some limited wildcarding. Specificly, wildcard completion. This is useful when you are trying to match a term that may or may not be plural or might have one of several verb tenses. For example if you wanted to find sites that had to do with bicycling you might use the following search:

Bicycl*
This would match sites on Bicycling, Bicycle, and Bicycles.

The search does not support arbitrary wildcards, so searches on "*cycling" or "Arch*ology" will not work.

What is MetaSearch?

MetaSearch lets you search query many different search engines, while only having to type your query once. When you search, a "MetaSearch" bar appears at the bottom of the search results page. Clicking on one of the links will forward your query to another search engine, so you don't have to type it again.

Happy searching!

Site Seeing

Samples of search engines include:

Google.Ca www.google.ca
Bing.com bing.com
Excite www.excite.com
Altavista www.altavista.com
Webcrawler webcrawler.com
Yahoo Canada www.yahoo.ca
Yahooligans (for children) www.yahooligans.com
Open Directory www.dmoz.org
Lycos www.lycos.com

You can find these search engines and many more at the Dogpile www.dogpile.com or your web browsers home page. If a search on one doesn’t produce good results, try another.

Ken Russell - Publisher

The Back Fence
Guelph, Ontario, CANADA

 

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