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RIROSE.HTM #3
February 1999

 


One of the most wonderful features of the "internet" or "world wide web", is that you can quickly find information on any subject. Most of you have probably already done this, perhaps just by using the built in "search" feature of AOL or other services, and typing in the keyword "roses". Using this "search engine" leads you to a page full of "links" to webpages about roses, which you can visit by clicking on their name. What you may not know is that there are dozens of search engines, and each one will give you wildly different results even when you use the same keyword. There are a number of reasons for this. First, many search engines, such as Alta Vista, will not list a site until it has been registered with them. Other engines, notably Yahoo, require not only registration but approval, and are difficult to get listed on. Finally, each search engine has it's own formula for deciding what kind of site will rank the highest in a search. This means that a website that shows up on the first page of search results in one engine like Lycos, may be hundreds of places down on AOL Netfind, essentially making it invisible.
The way to overcome these problems, is to use more than one search engine, especially when you're looking for something specialized. In your list of FAVORITES or BOOKMARKS on your browser, make sure you have at least a few different major search engines listed so you can get to them easily. We have most of the best ones listed already on our RIRS "links" page, so rather than me listing the addresses here, you can click on them there and then bookmark it for yourself when you get there. The best individual search engines are Alta Vista, Hotbot, Lycos, Infoseek, Yahoo, Excite and Webcrawler. There are also some places that combine the results from a number of other search engines simultaneously. This can save you a lot of time, since you only have to submit your keyword(s) once. Three that I use are Savvy Search, Dogpile, and Northern Lights.
When submitting a search, make sure you type in all the important keywords into the search box. For example, if you're looking for pictures of Austin roses, don't use roses as a keyword and then go down a list of many thousands of references. Instead use a group of words, such as: Austin, roses, English, photo. If you're looking for something with a specific name, for better results surround it with quotations, like "Brooklyn Botanical Garden".
One of the best ways to find new sites that are related to your search is to look at the "Links" page on every website that you find to be interesting. Most people who make websites make a list of links related to the subjects on their website. Some unusual and obscure sites can be found this way. Finally, when you do find great new sites from your search, make sure you bookmark it in your browser so you can get back there again. And if it's not on the RIRS links page, send me the address by e-mail (patham@cox.net) so I can add it in.

 

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