inconsistencies web search performance
N. TOMAIUOLO, INSTRUCTION LIBRARIAN, CCSU
TOMAIUOLON at CCSUA.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Nov 7 09:26:10 EST 1997
For the past couple of days we have been discussing the gross inconsistencies
of www search engines. Erroneous results from "top" engines for subjects
including "date rape" and "roman sites" were reported. One colleague said
(tongue not so firmly in cheek) as much as "then you cannot search for date
rape". Explanations were profferedthat some search words are "concealed" (i.e.,
date and sites in the above examples). Furthermore, it was mentioned that the
concealed "stopwords" could change with every "crawl".
This type of news is unsettling for the professional searcher, the librarian who
tries to teach about engines, and should be very alarming to the end-user. If
search engines do not a) work as they should per the engine's own help pages or
b) work inconsistently, there is the *theoretical* point of why bothering to
have them at all. LookSmart, Excite, and Yahoo could be relied on for
hierarchical directory type searches.
The point is that as a professional searcher who has seen the accuracy of
powerful engines including Dialog, BRS, STN and reliable CD ROM products, I'm
wondering when we are going to be offered this type of accuracy with the web.
"The Web made simple" book, and "Search Engine Secrets ofthe Pros" (PC World
article) nothwithstanding -- these engines including AltaVista, Lycos, InfoSeek,
et al, do not perform as they should on a consistent basis. Is this vexing
anyone besides me?
Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo, MLS
Bibliographic Instruction Librarian
Central Connecticut State University Library
New Britain, CT 06050
email= tomaiuolon at ccsu.ctstateu.edu
phone= (860) 832-2068
fax= (860) 832-3409
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