Searching the Web for Information

There are two basic ways to search the web. The first is to use a site that has a large listing of other sites and do a local search for keywords (I'll call this "local listings"). This immune page is a much smaller version of that (but you can do the searching with your eyes). Yahoo is the queen of WWW databases and I suggest you start there first. The second way to search the web is to use a site that does not have a local database but can search web pages throughout the world (the page owner doesnt have to register the page--the page owner can't hide the page either) (I'll call this "external listings").

The first way is better for basic topics and the best way to start your search. It is also way better for browsing topic catagories. You are more likely to get quality pages this way. The second way is best for finding obscure topics, people's names, or doing very specialized searches. You are more likely to get lower quality pages, broken links (because there is no one to give the new address to), uninformative headings and descriptions in the search results, and so many sites thrown at you you will be overwhelmed.

Every site operates differently. Yahoo is the best organized I've seen, with the best search engine, of the local listing type. With the external listing type, there is often extreme variation in what they'll pick up. Try more than one for specific searches. Alta Vista is comprehensive and has the most user-friendly search engine of the external listing type I've seen (though I haven't used many of these).

Local Listing Databases with General Topics

  • Yahoo! -- The Yellow Pages of the web. Use this to find sites on all topics, or go directly to the Yahoo pages below (some speciality Yahoo pages are above under topic headings): Easy to use; search by hierarchical topics or by keywords. Huge numbers of entries.
  • Yahoo - Health: Diseases and Conditions -- Pointers to tons of sites, listed by topic
  • Yahoo - Society and Culture: Disabilities -- Pointers to various resources for people with disabilites
  • Yahoo - Health: Mental Health -- Includes sites for panic attacks, trauma, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, etc
  • McKinley Internet Directory/Magellan -- Search for sites on a variety of topics. Rating system and reviews of all sites listed, so there are not as many sites as, say, Yahoo. Interface is easy to use but frustrating. For example, there are 167 entries for health: conditions and diseases but they are not sorted in any way, not even alphabetically. And the display only shows 10 entries at a time. Info is also not entirely accurate or complete Note: there seems to be a parallel universe inside Magellan; you get one set of catagories and listings if you browse catagories and a completely different one if you do a search for a keyword and/or then browse catagories (weird!)
  • The Argus Clearinghouse -- A listing of guides (other listings) arranged by topic

    External Listing Databases with General Topics

  • Alta Vista: Main Page -- Comprehensive and easy to use. Returns thousands of pages with many searches. Also searches USENET postings back for a couple of months. Not all posts show up though, even in groups where other posts show. Good place to see where you can be found (can be pretty mindblowing!)
  • W3 Search Engines -- Huge collection of ways to search the web for information. No help or explainations
  • The Open Text Index -- Also accessed automatically when you search in Yahoo. Like Alta Vista but picks up a different (and overlaping) set of sites
  • DejaNews Research Service -- Searches USENET posts only. Keeps a database going back to spring 1995. Misses a lot of posts. Profiles on posters. Good place to check out what the world can find out about you

    Local Listing Databases that Focus on Health or Science Topics

  • Medical Reference Library -- Jonathan Tward's extensive links on all sorts of medical conditions and topics, including medical schools
  • U. F Montana's Healthline Database -- Articles on a long list of medical topics, fairly simple text for laypeople
  • CPMCnet -- Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Resources for many health topics, full text references, search features

    Cyndi Norwitz / / Last Modified: 3/6/98

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