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What do you need to find, and what do you already know?
March 12, 2005 6:52 PM   Subscribe

"Which search engine should I use?"
posted by iffley (44 comments total)

 
That's a really well-designed site. I trust that person to tell me about the world wide web.
posted by bingo at 7:11 PM on March 12, 2005


Personalised Google! GTFI!
posted by bonaldi at 7:18 PM on March 12, 2005


search is dead. add your query to the end of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

OR

use your imagination
posted by reflection at 7:18 PM on March 12, 2005


I think is great and I could care less if it is pretty...
posted by srboisvert at 7:18 PM on March 12, 2005


"Which search engine should I use?"
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:21 PM on March 12, 2005


It's a really useful list. I don't understand the objections.
posted by vacapinta at 7:27 PM on March 12, 2005


bingo thinks Flash interfaces are teh kewlness.
posted by TungstenChef at 7:34 PM on March 12, 2005


JKF - Good luck with that.
posted by mlis at 7:36 PM on March 12, 2005


JKF - I used to think like that. Then I noticed that Yahoo has far better image search - fewer dead links and better results. I have yet to make major comparisons on basic search functionality.

From the fpp link:

Google Images has over 1 billion indexed
Yahoo Search has over 1.5 billion images


Google isn't always the best.
posted by srboisvert at 7:44 PM on March 12, 2005


I know from experience thatInfomine, Librarians' Index to the Internet and Online Etymology Dictionary are three excellent resources. There are other sources included in the link that I would not use. But why don't you guys, you know, click some of the links, explore and learn, rather than rush in here to make snarky comments?
posted by mlis at 7:45 PM on March 12, 2005


No Gizzogle, no credibility with me.
posted by sachinag at 7:45 PM on March 12, 2005


[This is indeed good.]
posted by NickDouglas at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2005


Nice find, iffley.
posted by mischief at 7:50 PM on March 12, 2005


thanks for this link.
posted by mgkaelen at 7:57 PM on March 12, 2005


This is good.

Flash for flash's sake is feh.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:07 PM on March 12, 2005


Holy crap, I had no idea there was still variety in this space. After all the old guard (Altavista, Excite, Lycos, etc.) went all portal-wacky, and then went all tits-up, I just haven't even looked. Plus, as JKF pointed out, Google is the definition of default.

One exception is A9, Amazon's (internet) search engine. I've played with it, and they're doing some neat stuff. I don't stop to consider using it before going to Google when I'm, you know, actually doing work, though. Google wins.

A funny thing about A9 is that, because they're Amazon, they know where you live, probably. And where you work. When I show people the site for the first time they are invariably shocked by the fact that their home address comes up in the search results.
posted by dammitjim at 8:20 PM on March 12, 2005


Apparently the author of the list doesn't consider question-based search engines like askjeeves.com and brainboost.com as search engines. I don't like askjeeves.com, but I find brainboost.com quite useful, though.
posted by timyang at 8:29 PM on March 12, 2005


I didn't say anything about flash. Love it if it suits you, but there is quite a bit of spectrum between that layout and a flash interface.
posted by bingo at 8:48 PM on March 12, 2005


"I want to see thumbnails of pages before visiting them"

Also possible on google with the googlepreview Firefox extension.
posted by orthogonality at 9:31 PM on March 12, 2005


Google is the definition of default.

I wonder if that's not as much image as reality. Last figures I saw (earlier this week), Google had 34% market share, Yahoo! had 31%, and MSN had 16%.

I know those kind of ratings analyses are 2/3 bullshit, usually, but they're the only numbers we have at this point. Judging by those and taking into account the couple of percentage points sampling error that always hangs around this kind of thing, seems to me that Yahoo! and Google are currently neck and neck. Unless you have other numbers, it doesn't make sense to speak of Google as the "definition of default" in search engines.
posted by mediareport at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2005


timyang - he includes ask.com and brainboost under "I want a quick factual answer".
posted by swell at 10:13 PM on March 12, 2005


I wonder if that's not as much image as reality. Last figures I saw (earlier this week), Google had 34% market share, Yahoo! had 31%, and MSN had 16%.

I think that Google is probably only the default among the technically-literate. Yeah, lots of casual surfers use MSN and Yahoo. But when you need to ping a site to test a connection, what site do you use? More and more people are using Google (it used to be yahoo) which I think reflects the mindset at work.
posted by gd779 at 10:22 PM on March 12, 2005


When I show people the site for the first time they are invariably shocked by the fact that their home address comes up in the search results.

My guess is that the people you show the site too fall within the category of "not too bright Amazon customers".

I wonder if that's not as much image as reality. Last figures I saw (earlier this week), Google had 34% market share, Yahoo! had 31%, and MSN had 16%.

And hence, google being the default. You kind of defeat your own point there.
posted by clevershark at 10:23 PM on March 12, 2005


Last figures I saw (earlier this week), Google had 34% market share, Yahoo! had 31%, and MSN had 16%.


do you have a cite for those numbers?
posted by reflection at 10:27 PM on March 12, 2005


I'd put Yahoo's search up there with Google, just because they index their image results more often. That, and they don't censor searches. There have been a number of questionable image search results problems with Google, most noteworthy being the Abu Gharaib prison abuse photos which mysteriously didn't show up on Google's image search. Google's explanation was that they indexed their image results every 6 months (which is a savory crock-pot of slow-steamed horse shit).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:07 PM on March 12, 2005


My guess is that the people you show the site too fall within the category of "not too bright Amazon customers".

I almost jumped out of my chair the first time I went to a site I'd never been to before but had a little amazon badge which said "Hello [firstname]!"

Dont know if thats the same thing but I think its less about brightness than with being confronted directly with something even though you may already know it to be true.
posted by vacapinta at 11:08 PM on March 12, 2005


do you have a cite for those numbers?

Sure, reflection, here's the latest Media Metrix data from SearchEngineWatch:

Other - 2%
Ask - 2%
Excite - 4%
AOL - 9%
MSN - 16%
Yahoo - 32%
Google - 35%

Again, I treat any marketing numbers like those with a healthy dose of skepticism, but I was definitely surprised the latest "official" figures put Google and Yahoo! so close. It seemed at odds with what I think is many folks' perception of the market share breakdown.

And hence, google being the default. You kind of defeat your own point there.

Huh? I thought I was pretty clear, clevershark. Calling Google the "default" in the face of those numbers and what we know about margins of error seems just a teensy bit of a stretch. Anyway, the point is this race is currently far from a M$/Netscape overrun scenario. Not yet, anyway.

And yes, Google's been my default for years. :) Whether that continues depends on whether I enjoy any of the alternatives I'm just now beginning to try. I'm sure it'll be tough to wean myself away from dependence on the one company I've been using most heavily, but I think it's ultimately going to be worth it to start splitting my time between search engines and make Google start earning its default status again.
posted by mediareport at 11:58 PM on March 12, 2005


Well, I think it's a cool list, organized in a method that makes sense, and structured so as to use minimum bandwidth. I think it's a good find. Yay, Iffely. :)
posted by dejah420 at 12:03 AM on March 13, 2005


The people responsible for the seach numbers keep track of 1.5 million people and their habits, so I think it is pretty good data. They did say almost 60% of the people that go through yahoo are there for for the channel-based searches. I think Google is the default in more techno-literate, broadband subscribing, firefox using circles, and yahoo probably get a lot more hits off those people still using AOL with internet explorer on dial-up.
posted by sophist at 12:56 AM on March 13, 2005


I realized I love MSN's Encarta Answers. As this technology gets better and better, call-in trivia contests will become extinct (if they aren't already... (the answer is dendrophilia))
posted by adzm at 1:06 AM on March 13, 2005


That's a really well-designed site. I trust that person to tell me about the world wide web.

Thank God the web is moving away from misuse of tables. This site, however, is *perfect* use of a table. You really have no idea what you're talking about. I wouldn't mind, but since you were slating the site at the same time...
posted by nthdegx at 1:41 AM on March 13, 2005


Thanks, iffley — this is helpful.
posted by taz at 1:57 AM on March 13, 2005


nthdegx, it is functionally a good use for a table, but it looks like shit. It was nice for iffley to go out on a limb and post this FPP and all, and it's nice of some of you to defend him, and an argument might be made that it's the content that matters more than the form in this case (though I disagree with that, too), but none of that changes the fact that the web site in question looks like shit, shit, shit.

Oh, were we talking about shit? Comscore Media Metrix is shit. Their numbers are based on conjecture. They draw data from a small group of respondents (they won't reveal how small, or where they got the respondents, and they won't release the raw data), and extrapolate it by orders of magnitude, apply fancy charts, and eventually it starts to sound like they have some vague idea of what they're talking about, but they don't. Neilsen ratings are more reliable, and Neilsen ratings, as we all know, are worthless.
posted by bingo at 5:03 AM on March 13, 2005


I found it an interesting post, and an interesting question to ask.
posted by mmahaffie at 6:05 AM on March 13, 2005


and an argument might be made that it's the content that matters more than the form in this case (though I disagree with that, too)

Its not so much your critique of the looks of the site that people are disagreeing with; its your dismissal of the information there due to its looks. Its a little like saying you won't get your news from Dan Rather because, hey, look at his hair cut - I wouldn't trust a guy with that hair cut to tell me about the world.
posted by Bort at 6:54 AM on March 13, 2005


Its not so much your critique of the looks of the site that people are disagreeing with; its your dismissal of the information there due to its looks.
Exactly. You could bury all the information in stunning graphics, but it wouldn't make it work better. The site is transparently useful. I like that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2005


Its a little like saying you won't get your news from Dan Rather because, hey, look at his hair cut - I wouldn't trust a guy with that hair cut to tell me about the world.

That's a bad analogy. It's hard to imagine a connection between Rather's haircut and his ability and/or resources to tell me about the world. Although, if his haircut was bad enough, some people would start to wonder whether his lack of interest in looking good for his audience was related to sloppiness of any other sort.

But here we're talking about the value of a site that purports to teach me something about the nature of the web in general. And yet the site itself could be designed by someone who, an hour or two before, had picked up a five year-old copy of 'HTML for dummies.'

In other words, the person(s) responsible for the creation of that site clearly doesn't know (or perhaps care) much about the nature of the user's experience, or how to improve it. And that is not the sort of person who I want to take advice from about a subject as nuanced, controversial, and directly related to user experience as which search engine to use.
posted by bingo at 8:02 AM on March 13, 2005


and an argument might be made that it's the content that matters more than the form in this case

bingo

sorry, couldn't resist
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2005


does the same thing.
posted by etaoin at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2005


I want to find porn. Lots of porn.

No dice...
posted by Cyrano at 9:23 AM on March 13, 2005


bingo, I think you're over-reacting.

Information presented in a simple and unfancy layout is fine. Could the list be made easier to navigate with a more effort? Yes. Does that matter? Not a bit. The information is presented in a clean and easy to read layout that serves the purpose.

Could be the guy who put that together has no head for web design. So what? It's a list. It's just a goddam list. The form serves the function adequately. Distrusting it because there's no sign of extra hours of wankery to present the same information? Nuts. Snobbery.
posted by cortex at 9:31 AM on March 13, 2005


Distrusting it because there's no sign of extra hours of wankery to present the same information? Nuts. Snobbery.

Very well said.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:12 AM on March 13, 2005


Neilsen ratings are more reliable, and Neilsen ratings, as we all know, are worthless.

Again, bingo, I agree on the overall shittiness of ratings schemes like this; I think they're usually ridiculous. My main reporting gig for 4 years was media, so you don't have to tell me about Nielsens, et al. But SearchEngineWatch's Nielsen NetRatings page notes Nielsen only reports what it calls "audience reach" - the percent of 'unique visitors' [i.e., the 225,000 folks in Nielsen's sample) that came to a given search engine during a given month. So a person who used MSN to search 20 times a day in December is counted equally to a person who searched with Yahoo! once during the same period.

You can consider that a "more reliable" measure if you like, but from here it just looks like "easier for Nielsen to handle." (Wouldn't be the first time Nielsen's pulled that kind of move.) SearchEngineWatch actually states on its Nielsen page that if you're looking for info about "search share" - the volume of searches that each search engine handles - you should use Media Metrix instead.

Again, bingo, I agree these numbers are highly questionable, but your fury here is thoughtless and misplaced.

Anyone who wants to better understand the search industry's own take on the market share issue should spend an hour or three at the SearchEngineWatch reports page.
posted by mediareport at 10:26 AM on March 13, 2005


cyrano, there's even a site for that: Xahara. (Beta, technology demo)
posted by alumshubby at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2005


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