Date:         Wed, 5 Sep 2001 01:55:39 -0400
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 04 Sep 01 - MetaSearch Tools / Himalayan Goats
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               TOURBUS Volume 7, Number 14 -- 04 Sep 2001
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        \___/  \___/  T h e   I n t e r n e t   T o u r B u s    \___/
        SIX YEARS of Searchable Archives at !!
               TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPICS: MetaSearch Tools
In today's TOURBUS ride, we'll visit some meta-searchers... search
engines that search other search engines.  Why would that be useful?
And what does all this have to do with Himalayan goats?  Read on!
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The first metasearch site we'll visit today is IxQuick - a popular
metasearch tool created by a twelve year old Himalayan mountain goat
named Daphne.  (The IxQuick website claims this is true, but the
Tourbus editors doubt that the goat's actual name is Daphne.)
IxQuick can search the Web, Usenet, for MP3 music files and images.
It queries most major search engines and is very fast. 
IxQuick PROs:
- Translates your query into into each search engine's syntax. This
  allows you to use boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), quoted phrases,
  plus, minus, and wildcards.  Most metasearch tools do not handle
  complicated search terms well, so search nerds will love this one.
- Eliminates duplicates and gets rid of redundant entries.  :-)
- Shows stars for relevance - one star for each search engine that
  places a result in its top ten.
IxQuick CONs:
- Does not query Google, which is too bad because Google is one of
  the best search engines. (Google requires that metasearch tools
  pay a licensing fee.)
- Has many rabidly loyal fans who flame me every time I say something
  nice about MetaCrawler.
Like IxQuick, MetaCrawler sends your query to about a dozen popular
search engines, and gives you the combined results. MetaCrawler's key
benefit is efficiency. MetaCrawler returns the most relevant results
from across the Web in a very efficient way, searching AltaVista,
Excite, Google, LookSmart, WebCrawler, GoTo, DirectHit, and others. 
The default behavior is to collate the results from all engines and
present them in Relevance order.  Another option is to view results by
Site, where the results are segmented into Commercial, Educational,
General, Organizational, North American, and European.  Or you can
view by Source, and get the top ten results from each search engine.
The "View by Source" option gives you ALL the results from ALL the
engines on one screen.
Customizing MetaCrawler
It's easy to customize the way MetaCrawler works.  Just click the
Customize tab on the MetaCrawler home page, and you can control many
different aspects of MetaCrawler's look and operation, such as colors,
which search engines to use, time to wait for results, results per
page and other fun stuff. MetaCrawler uses cookies to remember your
preferred settings, so next time you return to the site, you won't
have to set the preferences again.
DogPile takes your keywords and bounces them off many of the web's
most popular search tools, such as AltaVista, Direct Hit,,
LookSmart, RealNames, Yahoo and (ahem) SearchHippo. 
When you press the "Fetch" button, Arfie the Dogpile mascot searches
three search engines at a time. The requests are made in parallel and
results are displayed as they come back.  If Arfie does not get at
least 10 documents matching your query, it will automatically move to
the next three engines until all are searched.  You can query more
search engines by pressing the "Next Set of Search Engines" button at
the bottom of the page.
Dogpile PROs:
- Key benefit is comprehensiveness. Dogpile returns the top 10
  results from each engine queried and does not weed out duplicates.
- Only the hits from the fastest-responding search sites are
  displayed in the initial results.
Dogpile CONs:
- Only the hits from the fastest-responding search sites are
  displayed in the initial results.  Yes, this is both good and bad.
  It does result in a faster answer, but there's no guarantee that
  the BEST search engines will respond the quickest.
- Cannot request more than ten results from each engine, or change
  the timeout value.
- Includes several marginal engines such as Sprinks, Kanoodle and
You can customize the Dogpile search, but only to the extent of specifying
which engines to search, and in what order.  This might be helpful if you
want to eliminate advertiser-sponsored search sites (ie: Goto, FindWhat)
which share per-click revenues with Dogpile.
In the past, I've always given MetaCrawler top honors, but I'm really
impressed with how far IxQuick has come.  I still recommend that you try all
three and see which works best for you.  The choice of a search tool
depends on your personal needs, your style of research, shoe size, and the
phase of the moon.  If you want to dig deeper, there are other metasearch
tools you can try.  Here are some that I recommend:
   Copernic 2001 - Free Download, accesses 80 search engines
   CNET's - Queries 800 specialized engines
So should you head straight for a metasearch tool instead of a plain
old search engine next time you want to find something online?  My
answer is no.  I think it's best to choose one good search engine,
such as AltaVista, Google, etc. and learn to use it well.
Each search tool has specific strengths and features that can help you
pinpoint your searches in a way that the metasearch tools cannot. If
you don't find what you're looking for with your favorite search
engine, then by all means use a metasearcher to add breadth to your
That's all for now, see you next time!  --Bob Rankin
The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
=====================[ Tourbus Rider Information ]===================
    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2238
      Copyright 1995-2001, Rankin & Crispen - All rights reserved
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TOURBUS - 04 SEP 01 - MetaSearch Tools  /  Himalayan Goats, viruses, hoaxes, urban legends, search engines, cookies, cool sites
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