Effectivess of Various Search Engines
Purpose or Problem
The problem is finding specific information among the vast data available on the Internet.
The invention of the Internet has become one of the most life-changing and society-changing tools of our lifetime. Anyone who needs to do research or who requires information on a particular subject has access to a wealth of data and up-to-the-minute news and published research on that subject.
The problem is this: Since the Internet is so vast, how do you search through all the information to uncover the data that is of interest to you?
An Internet search engine is a software program used to look constantly through the entire World Wide Web (the Web) and it indexes all the sites found there. The engine utilizes indexing software, sometimes referred to as robots, bots, or spiders. These spiders and bots "crawl" around the Web looking for new or updated pages. They travel from address to address, known as Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), until they have visited every site on the Web.
This is a monumental task, though, even for computer software working at fantastically high speeds. Because of the huge number of sites, it may take a long time for spiders and bots to get to every site. Therefore, it is possible for one search engine to give you different results than another.
Hypothesize that when searching for a particular subject on the Internet, different search engines will yield different results. Therefore, to thoroughly scan the Internet database for specific information, you should always use more than one search engine.
- Computer connected to the Internet
Make a list of a dozen specific subjects (perhaps a certain type of bacteria or a type of unusual plant). With a computer connected to the Internet, use various search engines to search for that topic. Write down how many references each engine found. Then, look at each site that is referenced, and count how many are relevant and how many do not apply to your topic.
For example, a popular term for one stock market strategy is "rolling stock." Rolling stock identifies a stock whose price is fluctuating up and down in a narrow range, enabling a stock market trader to buy the stock when it is at the low part of its range, and then sell it when it rolls up to a resistance price. However, if you use search engines to look for rolling stock, the results will also include links to the railroad industry, because that term is used to mean transporting cattle by rail.
Popular search engines include Google, Ask Jeeves, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Alta Vista, Webcrawler, and Yahoo!.
Did different search engines give different results? Which search engine produced the most consistently relevant results?
Write down the results of your experiment. Document all observations and data collected.
Come to a conclusion as to whether or not your hypothesis was correct.
Technically, some of the software we use to search the Web is not truly a search engine, but rather a "directory." A true search engine only needs the address of a web site. Then, an indexing agent (like a spider) does the rest. A directory requires the owner of a web site to provide the directory with a list of categories under which the site should be catalogued. Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Alta Vista, and Webcrawler are example of search engines. Yahoo! is an example of a directory, just as The Yellow Pages in your telephone book is an example of a directory. Compare the results of searching for a subject using a search engine and a directory.
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