Rank and find

Can you "google" without Google? Yes, of course! The default search engine has become synonymous with "search" much like "xerox" and "photocopy".

Devangshu Datta | Print Edition: December 28, 2006


Jeeves, the omniscient manservant used to be the guide to this engine.Ask’s speciality was translating natural language questions into useful Boolean search queries. Jeeves has now retired but the site still has some excellent features. It uses an “Expert Rank” algorithm, which guesses intelligently to try and narrow your search focus if you enter a broad or ambiguous query. It also offers a useful zoom preview of the homepage of every site that lists on a search.And, instead of advertisements, the site lists related searches and queries on your key words.


Copyright is often a grey area—especially on the Web and when it comes to digital content in general. How do you know if the content is free to use, out-of-copyright or rightsprotected? Creative Commons offers a partial answer. Searches through this metasearch portal allows you to filter for content that is free to use even if it is copyrighted. Creative Commons sits on top of Yahoo, Google, etc and looks for the Creative Commons licence tag, which tells you that content is free.


There are two features which we really like about this veteran search engine. One is that it has a comprehensive machine translator onsite. Just hit the Babelfish button and the menu opens up.You can copy-paste blocks of text or enter a URL for a very large set of free paired-language translations.The other USP is a decent digital audio search section.You can set durations and searches across various digital audio formats. By setting parameters such as “Artist: Elvis” or “Song: Jailhouse Rock” or similar parameters, you can find almost the entire online oeuvre of performers and various versions of a famous song.


Few things can be more irritating than a search that is inundated by extraneous results. For instance, a search on “REM” in Google will throw up many references to the popular rock group. Instead, Scirus will offer only scientific and technical papers pertaining to “Rapid Eye Movement”—the phase of sleep when people dream. Scirus is the Web’s premier scientific and technical search engine, and is deeper than Google Scholar.


The best place to trawl through the storehouse of opinion called the blogosphere.The tagline says “55 million blogs—some have to be good”. In reality, the blogosphere has more than its fair share of loonies and illiterates. But a lot of experts also blog and Technorati goes out and ranks, filters blogs on the basis of popularity, links, freshness of content, authority, etc. A Technorati search can throw up very useful sets of links and information.The site also offers a running “trend-o-meter” that lists top searches continuously. As on Wikipedia and www.del.icio.us, any Technorati content must be vetted with extra care.


This is a metasearch engine (like Creative Commons and Dogpile).When you enter a search query “Kylie Minogue” for instance, it queries several search engines simultaneously.Then it collates individual results and compares them. Finally it presents a list of hits ranked on the basis of occurrence across the pool of search engines.A metasearch engine can always search across a larger number of sites than any given single engine.Webcrawler is fast, easy to manage and offers reasonable pools of results. Its interface is average, however, and a newbie may be confused.The new video search features offer an interesting footprint across the global news channels.


The Sino-American cooperation bills itself as a businessspecific search engine. It uses fancy artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to “super-target” searches. It also offers a huge database of global corporate listings (and contact information) in every industry.The AI makes it possible to rank keywords in queries and to refine searches across locations and businesses that come up on initial query.Accoona also offers subsidiary lists of people often mentioned in conjunction with the query (for instance,“George Bush” throws up “Abraham Lincoln” and “Angelina Jolie”!).A very sharp engine!


Dogpile is probably the best of the metasearch engines in terms of ease of use and multiplicity of results. It offers a neat interface and simpler advanced preference options compared to most other metasearch engines.Arfie the dalmatian will, on default, present hits that occur across four different search engines and then use its own proprietary methods of ranking the results. However,Arfie is a little too proud of his ability to control explicit content. If your filter preferences are set to “heavy”, it might cut down results drastically.

  • Print
A    A   A