A very interesting possibility is offered by the fantastic W3gate, a German server (how comes that German FTPservices are so developed?) that allows you INCREDIBLE sniffing on the WWW. Try for instance to send it following email and you'll at once (well, as soon as you get the answer, say half an hour) understand what I mean: To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: nothing here Text: get -a -img -l http://Fravia.org/index.html This IS the web-fetcher for all those that have slow connexions or that have been 'banned' from the Web for whatever reason. If you need more info about the W3gate, just send an "help" message to the same address as above:email@example.com
Do not believe that the more well known search engines are also the best ones... alliances (and money) play unfortunately a huge role in these matters, for example, Infoseek strong tie to Netscape guarantees that many people use the service, The world wide web worm has no netscape tie and no major commercial backing, so fewer people use it. AltaVista partnered with Yahoo in June 1996, becoming the "preferred" search engine (see below). Altavista is very vulnerable to spammers because of its near real-time indexing. This makes it easy for slightly different variations of the same page to be submitted in an attempt to block others from the top ten. ROBOT NAME: SCOOTER Excite was launched in late 1995 and grew quickly, eating its competitors. In July 1996, Excite purchased the Magellan search engine and directory. In november 1996, it acquired Webcrawler, however Magellan and Webcrawler have not yet been merged with Excite (eventually Magellan will: on January 22 Webcrawler took over Magellan's top spot on the Netscape search page, where Excite has also a spot, giving it two of the five top slots). ROBOT NAME: ARCHITEXT HotBot was launched in May 1996 and represents Wired's entry into the search engines competition. The site is powered by the Inktomi search engine, but that does not mean that it is the same as the UC Berkeley Inktomi catalog, it just uses the same technology that created that catalog. ROBOT NAME: SPIDER InfoSeek, around since early 1995, is well known and well connected. In fall 1996 the new 'Ultrasmart / Ultraseek' index (the commercial idiots always choose awful stupid names), with 50 million URLs was introduced. Ultraseek is the same as Ultrasmart, plus some additional information on the found sites. ROBOT NAME: SLURP THE WEB Lykos, around since May 1994, is one of the oldest search engines. Was the FIRST engine to combat attempt to spam in may 1996. ROBOT NAME: HOUND Open Text, is an index that has been around since early 1995, and until June 1996 was Yahoo's preferred search engine partner. It's a search engine "in decline". ROBOT NAME: xxx Webcrawler opened to the public on April 1994, and started as a research project at the university of Washington. Purchased by AOL in March 1995, which used it as preferred service until November 1996, when Excite, a Webcrawler competitor, acquired the service. ROBOT NAME: SPIDEY Yahoo is around since late 1994, may be the oldest major web site directory. It is a directory (not a search engine) based on user submission. If a search of Yahoo's catalog doesn't fish, users should then consult a search engine, Yahoo pipes the query to any of the major search engines with a click. There are so many people using Yahoo that the search engines listed FIRST on Yahoo page have a strategic advantage over others. Alta Vista is its preferred search engine. Since Netscape navigator is the browser that people use, and since browser have a search button that connect to a pre-defined page, and since people are idiots that would not know how to change such a setting even if you would explain it to them (of course you have YOUR OWN search engine page on YOUR HARDDISK connected to that button, if you do not be ashamed and copy at once my searengi.htm on your harddisk, you'll later modify it as you fancy) the page connected there IS important. Millions push that button daily... search engines and directories had to pay Netscape 5 million dollars each to have a top spot on that page. AOL directs its suckers to Excite (strategic partner) and Webcrawler (formerly-owned); Compuserve sends its suckers to Lykos.
[ERROR 400] YOUR REQUEST COULD NOT BE UNDERSTOOD BY THE SERVER Either your browser is malfunctioning or your Internet connection is unreliable [ERROR 401] YOU ARE UNAUTHORIZED TO ACCESS THAT DOCUMENT/WEBSITE proper authentication is required, ask root organisation [ERRORS 403, 404, 505] ACCESS TO THAT DOCUMENT/WEBSITE IS FORBIDDEN Check the URL you typed (punctuation AND capitalisation) Slashes MUST be forward-facing (/) Contact the site maintainersHow to evalute the results of a search
This is usually the hardest and most time-consuming part of a search. The number of hits you obtain can range from none to hundreds of thousands, and their relevance or usefulness can vary from considerable to negligible. There are some things you can do to help produce more relevant hits for the fewest total number.
Success in any particular search query is usually more a question of which search tool has the best database for the subject and how the information is organized for retrieval. This is why it is often necessary to try a number of different search tools when searching for obscure information.
Some search engines list the hits by titles, some by brief text and
some give you a choice. When available choose the brief text, as it is
easier to evaluate. Even so, it is often necessary to click the link to
see the entire document before you can assess its content. Some sites may
not be of apparent interest, but will contain links that have great relevancy.
Some searches yield the desired information quickly, and some you may just
have to plod through. Another problem is caused by search ngines that DO NOT
list the DATES of the retrieved pages.
This is VERY BAD, because the 'volatility' of Internet will have probably caused the disappearence of many of those sites (I for instance don't even bother to check pages with a 'fetch-date' older than three months when I am confronted with many hits)
As you gain experience, you will find the search tools to use that are most appropriate for your particular interests and how best to evaluate the hits.
Fravia+, February-November 1997