ONLINE, November 2000
Copyright © 2000 Information Today, Inc.
Options for customizing or personalizing the search forms seems to be the new change of the month. For those search engines that now support customization, the preferences are typically saved via a cookie on the computer where you set the options. While not portable, they are easy to change and can provide your favorite search features each time you connect to that search engine.
All the Web now offers a Customize option that includes a family filter, language limit, character encoding, and the number of word filters.
AltaVista has made several significant changes in the past several months. For years, it has offered an advanced search which supported full Boolean searching, the NEAR operator, and other advanced search features. It has now introduced a Power Search screen that provides a scripted form input for many of its advanced search commands. Similar in approach to HotBot's Power Search screen and many others, it has options for language limits, date limits, and field searching in the text, title, or link. It also has domain and site limits, with pre-configured continents.
Also, after many years of displaying a penurious 10 hits at a time with no option for more, the Power Search features options for retrieving up to 50 hits at once. While that option is not available on the Simple or Advanced Search pages, it can be set using AltaVista's new customization options. The new option under the Customize Settings link works for all three search forms and can control the number of hits displayed, what information is included in the display, highlighting search terms in the display, and several language encoding options.
Deja.com has lost much of its older Usenet archives. Currently, the Usenet search only goes as far back as May 1999. Deja.com has also partnered with Northern Light and features a Northern Light search box on many pages.
Excite has modified its results display. If a result from the Excite search engine is also included in Excite's version of the LookSmart directory, the directory category is also listed. This listing is included as part of the record and is identified as an Excite Category Match.
FindArticles.com, the partnership between LookSmart and Gale, has launched with free access to articles from more than 300 periodicals.
FirstGov, the Inktomi-powered search engine and directory for U.S. government information, has formally launched at www.firstgov.gov. A quick comparison with usgovsearch from Northern Light and Google's Uncle Sam shows that FirstGov has a substantial database, but usgovsearch still finds more results for some searches.
Google has continued to make many changes, often at a rather rapid rate. It now offers an Advanced Search as well as a Language, Display, and Filtering Options page. The Advanced Search does not add many new features, but like AltaVista's Power Search, it provides a scripted form that makes using some of Google's advanced features easier. It offers a limit by domains, that can either include only pages from a specific domain or alternatively can exclude all pages from a specified domain. It also provides the ability to display up to 100 hits at a time.
The Language, Display, and Filtering Options page also offers language limits and the ability to display up to 100 hits, along with a family filter and an interface language choice. But from this page, these options can be selected and saved as preferences.
HotBot has added customization capabilities again. Last available several years ago, HotBot now has a Personalize These Settings button which controls what search options appear. These include most of its advanced search options. HotBot has also added help messages for each option on its advanced search. These messages can be turned on or off, and when on, display in the right-hand column of the advanced search form.
Northern Light has redesigned its main page. Once again, it has removed the option to limit a search to just the Web or its Special Collection on that main page. Instead, a searcher must use the Power Search screen for those options. In addition to Northern Light's partnership with Deja.com, it also now has a partner arrangement with Eudora whose latest email program has a direct link to Northern Light's search page.
RemarQ has disappeared, leaving Deja.com as the sole search engine for Usenet news postings.
Snap has been renamed and integrated into other NBC Web properties under the new name of NBCi. The search side of the service retains the Live Directory as well as an Inktomi-powered search engine.
Greg R. Notess (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.notess.com) is a reference librarian at Montana State University.
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