From bobrankin@MHV.NET Tue Nov  4 01:43:15 1997
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 01:28:09 -0500
From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 4 Nov 1997 - Advanced Search Techniques

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      TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Advanced Searching Techniques

Alta Vista has for a long time been my favorite search engine.
It's the biggest and the baddest, in terms of both size and power.

Alta Vista boasts the largest web database, with over 100 million
pages, and since they index 10 million pages per day, it's likely
the freshest as well.  But because they catalog every word on every
web page, the dreaded "25,679 documents match your query" problem is
likely to pop up if you don't specify your search carefully.

True enough, it can be a brute force tool - but if you know how to
tame it using the advanced features, you can avoid the "drink from
a firehose" syndrome that often results from an Alta Vista query.
But before we dive in, please check out this nifty hypertextbook
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Here's a little tip for you:  Don't bother clicking the "Advanced
Search" button at Alta Vista.  You can do some really amazing things
with leaving the AV home page.  In fact, even the people who develop
AV use "simple search" almost exclusively!  Here are some tips for
fine tuning your AV searches:

1) Use the "+" and "-" operators

   Prefix your search words with "+" to indicate that they MUST occur
   in a page to be considered a hit, and use "-" to exclude pages.
   For example:

        +chocolate +turtles

   will find only pages that contain BOTH words.  If you omit the "+"
   AV will return some pages about chocolate, some about turtles, in
   addition to pages containing both words.  In this example, the
   difference is 25414 vs. 2467 matches.  By adding an exclusion term
   as shown below, the number of hits drops to 1869.

        +chocolate +turtles -peanut

2) Use quotes for phrases

   Well, 1800 matches is still a bit much to digest, so let's turn up
   the heat at AV.  If you really want to find Chocolate Turtles (and
   not just pages with those two words) put it in quotes.  The search

        +"chocolate turtles" -peanut

   yields only 40 hits!  Now we're down to the level where you can
   check out each matching document without spending hours.

3) Use the "host" and "domain" keywords

   Have you ever wanted to look for a specific word at just one website?
   Try a search like this:


   This tells AV to find articles about chocolate published only by the
   American Medical Association, and it yields just six hits.  You can
   also exclude a website or an entire domain from a search:

        +"election reform"
        +"human rights" -domain:cn

   The first example excludes documents published by one website, (the
   US Whitehouse) and the second eliminates all documents from an
   entire domain (the country of China).

4) Use the "title" keyword

   If you're looking for pages on a specific topic, instead of pages
   that just contain certain words, try limiting your search like so:

        title:"chocolate addiction"

   This often helps to weed out unwanted hits. The fact that someone
   bothered to categorize their page with a  keyword should
   help you get better quality matching documents.

5) Use the "image" keyword

   Looking for a special photo or icon?  Try something like this:


   The first should be obvious, the second uses a wildcard to find
   any image whose name starts with "comet", whether GIF or JPEG,
   but only on the NASA website.

5) Use the "link" and "url" keyword

   The "link" keyword finds pages that contain a link to another page,
   and the "url" keyword finds pages with specific characters in the
   address.  Here are some examples:      - find pages linked to the TOURBUS site
        url:elvis             - find pages with "elvis" in the address

By combining any of these search terms, your Alta Vista search
efficiency can go way up.  And I haven't even covered all the special
keywords you can use to hone in on the object of your desiring.  If
you want to learn more about advanced Alta Vista searching, visit


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See you next time!  --Bob

P.S. - If you teach computer courses, please visit the address above
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<div style="border-left: 2px solid black; margin: 5px; padding: 15px;">
<font face="arial"><B>TOURBUS Site Search</B></font><BR>
<form action="" id="cse-search-box">
    <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-1792240049612396:fbnumbbz08m" />
    <input type="hidden" name="cof" value="FORID:10" />
    <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1" />
    <input type="text" name="q" size="31" />
    <input type="hidden" name="as_qdr" value="y1" />
    <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search This Site" />
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>