RESEARCHING ON THE INTERNET

One key to a successful Internet search is an understanding of the many tools available.
Certain tools are more suitable for some purposes than others. When searching online,
there are two basic tools that you can use for finding information: search engines and
subject directories. You use a search engine to search for keywords. You use a subject
directory to find specialized topics. The primary difference between these two search
tools is that people assemble directories and search engines are automated.

SEARCH ENGINES: A search engine is a software program. All of the hundreds of
search engines on the Internet support keyword searches. This is not necessarily the best
way to search, but it is the most commonly used by people.

Some search engines use concept-based searching. The search engine tries to determine
what you mean and returns hits on Web sites that relate to the keywords. Hits are the
number of returns or Web sites based on your keywords. For example, if you search for
“video games”, the search engine may return hits on sites that contain Nintendo and
Playstation. Excite is one of the best known search engines using concept-based searching.

Another feature used is called stemming. When you search for a word, the search engine
also includes the “stem” of the word. For example, when you enter the search word “play”,
you may also get back results for plays, playing, and player.

KEYWORD SEARCHES: Keyword searches let you search for keywords within a Web
document. When you use a keyword search, you may find that the number of hits you
receive are in the thousands or even millions. Each hit is linked to the URL, which is the
Web site address. This can be a little overwhelming.

If you examine the Web page a little more closely, you will find that each hit as a
relevance rating percentage assigned, beginning with 100%. As you move down your list of
hits, the relevance number becomes less. This indicates that the site does not contain all
of the search words or contains only one or two instances of the keywords you used.

                        SEARCH ENGINE URL (WEB ADDRESS)


SPECIALTY SEARCH ENGINES: These are sometimes called category-oriented search
tools and they generally focus on a particular topic. TIP: Some search engines
automatically include plurals; others do not. To be on the safe side, include the plural form
of keywords you are searching for.

                              SPECIALTY SEARCH ENGINES
          Search Category               Site Name             URL (Web Address)
                                  Switchboard Web           www.switchboard,com
     Finding people
                                  Yellow Pages    
     Shareware games              Shareware Web   
                                  Catalog City    
     Online shopping
                                  Bottom Dollar   
     Sports information           Sports Search   
                                  Arthur’s Job Base
     Career information
                                  Monster Job Bank
                                  Career Resource Center
     Education purposes           WWW Virtual Library
     Misc. : Link to over
     3,000 specialty search       Beaucoup Web    
     engines (an index)
     Maps & travel information MapQuest           
                               Hotel Lodging Rooms
MULTIMEDIA SEARCH ENGINES: If you are interested in finding graphics, video clips,
animation, and even MP3 music files, then a multimedia search engine is probably the best
way to go. MP3 is a file format that allows audio compression at near-CD quality.

                            MULTIMEDIA SEARCH ENGINES
                  Search Category            Site Name      URL (Web Address)
           Music & MP3                       Lycos

            Fine art & photography          Corbis
            Images, audio, & video          AltaVista
            Picture, photographs, & artwork Ditto

SUBJECT DIRECTORY SEARCHING: Most subject directories are organized by subject
categories, with a collection of links to Internet resources. Remember, subject
directories are not automatic, they are assembled by people. Subject directory searches
often provide a more guided approach than entering keywords into a search engine.
Additional benefits of directories are as follows:

   1.   They are easy to use.
   2.   You are not searching the entire Web.
   3.   The Web sites have been handpicked and evaluated.
   4.   Most links include some type of description.
   5.   They produce better quality hits on searches for common items.

                            POPULAR SUBJECT DIRECTORIES
              Search Category                Site Name           URL (Web Address)
        Educational directory          Encyclopedia Britannica
        Public library information     The Librarian’s Index
        Very large subject directory   Yahoo           
        Good annotations               Galaxy          

PHRASE SEARCHING: Use phrase searching when you want to search for words that
must appear next to each other. A phrase is entered by using double quotation marks and
only matches those words that appear next to each other and in the order in which you

If you want to search for more than one phrase, separate multiple phrases or proper
names with a comma. For example, if you wanted to search for Micky Mantle baseball
cards enter “baseball cards”, “Mickey Mantle”. Capitalize proper nouns.

SEARCH ENGINE MATH: You can use math symbols to enter a formula to filter out
unwanted listings. For example:

   1. Put a plus sign (+) before words that must appear (also called an inclusion operator).
   2. Put a minus sign (-) before words that you do not want to appear (also called an
      exclusion operator).

   3. Words without qualifiers need not appear, but are still involved in sorting your

   Sample search: You want to make chocolate cookies without coconut. Enter your
   search this way (+cookie+recipe+chocolate-coconut).

BOOLEAN SEARCHING: Boolean logic is another way that you can search databases for
specific information. This is similar to search engine math, but has a little more power.
Boolean logic consists of three logical operators:

   1. AND: the more terms you combine with AND, the fewer hits you will receive
   2. NOT: the more terms you combine with NOT, the fewer hits you will receive
   3. OR: the more terms you combine with OR, the more hits you will receive

   Sample search: “cookies AND recipes AND chocolate NOT coconut”
                  “cookies AND recipes OR chocolate”

WILDCARD SEARCHING: The asterisk (*) is considered a wildcard character. Use this
when you don’t know the spelling of a word or you want to search plurals or variations of a
word. Some search engines only permit the * at the end of the word; with others you can
put the * at the end or beginning. Some search engines do not support wildcard searches.

      Sample search: You want to search for baseball cards and Nolan Ryan but you are
      not sure how to spell Nola. (“baseball cards” AND “N* Ryan”).

OTHER SEARCH FEATURES: Another feature provided by several search engines is a
related search. These are preprogrammed questions suggested by the search engine that
often lead to other Web pages with similar information you are searching for. This can
improve your chance of finding useful information. Several search engines use this
feature, but they may call it by different names such as, similar pages, related pages, or
more pages like this.


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