Features – Search Engines — What’s Your Flavor?

Diana Botluk is a reference librarian at the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and is the author of the 1996 edition of The Legal List: Research on the Internet. She is a regular columnist for the Internet Law Researcher, where she writes about finding information on the world wide web. She also teaches basic, advanced and online legal research at the University of Maryland, and co-chairs the Internet Focus Group for the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C.. You can e-mail Diana at [email protected].

(Archived May 22, 1997)


H ow are search engines like ice cream? Ice cream can be a rich symphony of rocky road, an elegant simplicity of mint chocolate chip, or the powerful clarity of plain vanilla. Like ice cream, search engines come in a variety of flavors, and what is right for one searcher may be rejected by another. A rocky road search engine might enable sophisticated searching by providing a complex search language slightly beyond the capabilities of the novice researcher. On the other hand, a vanilla search engine might be simple and straightforward, yet not as flexible for the experienced researcher. Research characteristics from six of the most common Internet search engines are compared in the chart below. The chart points out the features common to the search engines, as well as features unique to each. Ultimately, the flavor you choose will depend on your research style. But the best advice is to get to know each search engine’s strengths and weaknesses, and use each to its full advantage.

To download a Word for Windows version of the search engine comparison table, click here. For permission to distribute for educational purposes, please contact Diana Botluk.

Comparison of Major Web Search Engines

FindLaw, LawCrawler & Yahoo

Tools for Finding E-Mail Addresses & Company Information

Law Related Web Resources, Table I
(covers Legal Research Starting Points, Legislation, Administrative Agencies & Federal Regulations and Case Law)

Law Related Web Resources, Table II
(covers Foreign & International Law, Law Reviews & Newsletters, Legal Resources by Topic and Professional Connections)

Comparison of Major Web Search Engines

AltaVista
altavista.digital.com
Excite
www.excite.com
HotBot
www.hotbot.com
Infoseek
www.infoseek.com
Lycos
www.lycos.com
WebCrawler
webcrawler.com
Search Content web pages

usenet

web pages

usenet

e-mail addresses (through InfoSpace)

company information (through BigBook)

news articles

Excite web reviews

web pages

usenet

media files (limit to media type by modifying search)

web pages

usenet

e-mail addresses (through Four11)

company information (through Big Yellow)

web FAQ

newswires

news articles

web pages

media files

web pages
Search Language Include words with plus sign (+) or AND

Search for alternate words with OR

NEAR searches for words within 10 of each other

Exclude words with minus (-) or AND NOT

Search phrases by placing words in quotation marks (“”)

lower case searches are case insensitive; upper case searches force case sensitivity

truncate words with an asterisk (*)

nest searches with parentheses

Include words with plus sign (+) or AND

Search for alternate words with OR

Exclude words with minus (-) or AND NOT

Phrase searching for proper names only by searching with upper case initial letters

lower case searches are case insensitive; two adjacent words with initial capitals force case sensitivity and phrase searching

nest searches with parentheses

Include words by choosing “all the words,” the modify option “must contain,” using AND, or using an ampersand (&)

Search for alternate words by choosing “any of the words,” or using OR

Exclude words by choosing the modify option “must not contain,” by using minus (-), or by using NOT

Search phrases by choosing “phrase” searching or by using quotation marks (“”)

lower case searches are case insensitive; mixed upper/lower case searches are case sensitive

nest searches with parentheses

Include words with plus sign (+)

All words are searched alternately unless otherwise specified

Word proximity is no longer supported in Infoseek Ultra

Exclude words with a minus sign (-)

Search phrases by placing words in quotation marks (“”) or putting hyphens (-) between them

lower case searches are insensitive; initial capitals force case sensitivity

Include words by clicking on AND on the search form

Search for alternate words by clicking on any 2 through 7 words on the search form

Exclude words with a minus sign (-)

Truncate words with a dollar sign ($); force exact match by placing a period (.) on the end of a word

Include words with AND

Search for alternate words with OR

Indicate word proximity with NEAR/#, replacing the number sign with the desired proximity (number of words) desired

Exclude words with NOT

Search phrases with ADJ or by placing the phrase in quotation marks (“”)

nest searches with parentheses

Search Restrictors Searches may be restricted by the following: date, title, anchor, text, applet, object, link, image, url, host, domain

Example: to search for web pages with llrx in the url, add url:llrx to the search statement

Searches may be restricted by location (GeoPlace, a major geographic region, or CyberPlace, any part of a host name), media type, or date. Complete these portions of the search form. Field restricted searches are available for the following fields:

link:

site:

url:

title:

OtherSearch Features give keywords extra weight by placing them in the ranking field

Live topics allows the researcher to adjust the search with suggestions from its program.

Default searching is inclusive/alternative using concept searching. Concept searching will search for other word forms and synonyms beside the keyword typed into the search statement.

Use of Boolean operators forces keyword searching.

Query-by-Example from the results display allows researchers to let Excite construct a new search to retrieve relevant sites. Find a relevant site on the results display and click on “More Like This.” Excite uses that page as an example on which to base a new search.

Form based search interface makes advanced searching easy. There is no need to investigate appropriate search language.

Results filter pages that have attempted to “trick” the search engine. Pages with many repeated words score lower, while smaller pages with unique words score higher.

Results filter pages that have attempted to “trick” the search engine with repeated common words.

Allows searching within a previous set of results by using the pipe symbol (|).

Customized searching is accomplished by completing a customized search form. Allows a secondary search to “Find Similar Pages” from an initial result
Results Display User can adjust display to compact, standard & detailed form. Display reveals url, relevancy score, file size, and summary. User can sort results by site or relevancy. Display reveals url, relevancy score, file size, and summary. User can adjust display to full description, brief description, or url list. Display reveals url, relevancy score, file size, and summary. User can hide or display site summaries. Display reveals url, relevancy score, file size, and summary. User can sort results by individual keywords. User can adjust display for summary, standard or detailed results. Display reveals url, relevancy score, file size, summary, and number of keywords matched. User can hide or display site summaries, and adjust the number of results per page. Display reveals url, relevancy score and summary.
Other Special Features NewsTracker performs a search in current articles from over 300 newspapers & magazines Newswires searches articles in the past month from Reuter’s, Business Wire & PR Newswire. Premier News searches recent articles from a selection of major news sources: Chicago Tribune, CNN, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, New York Times, San Jose Mercury News & Washington Post.

Infoseek also searches maps and stock quotes.

Results allow user to link to related sites. Statistics on web size & web servers

Interactive map program

Top25 List of Most Linked to Sites

Subject Directory Excite Web Reviews provide a subject directory of web reviews of over 60,000 web sites Infoseek Ultrasmart a2z and Point Top 5% WebCrawler

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FindLaw, LawCrawler & Yahoo

FindLaw
www.findlaw.com

LawCrawler
www.lawcrawler.com

Yahoo
www.yahoo.com
FindLaw furnishes one comprehensive site from which a researcher can locate law related resources on the Internet. FindLaw’s topical index provides a point and click directory of resources arranged in law related categories. The index itself can be searched, but FindLaw also offers a specialized search engine for legal research on the world wide web. This search engine, LawCrawler uses domain restrictors to increase search precision and eliminate irrelevant results. Yahoo is a general web directory. Rather than perform a search through several millions of web pages like search engines do, Yahoo classifies web sites into categories and presents them in a topical menu format. Yahoo users browse through a series of menus, starting with broad categories. Each click narrows the topic until a list of relevant web sites results. Yahoo’s directory can be searched, but the results of such a search are different from the results of classic search engine searching. A search results in a list of every web page that mentions the key words. A Yahoo search hunts only through the Yahoo directory itself, locating those sections of Yahoo that mention the key words, rather than all web pages mentioning the words.

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Tools for Finding E-Mail Addresses & Company Information

Finding E-Mail Addresses Finding Company Information
Bigfoot
www.bigfoot.com

Four11
www.four11.com

InfoSpace
www.infospace.com

Internet Address Finder
www.iaf.net

WhoWhere?
www.whowhere.com

BigBook
www.bigbook.com

BigYellow
www.bigyellow.com

LookupUSA
www.lookupusa.com

GTE Superpages: Yellow Pages
superpages.gte.net

ON’VILLAGE
www.onvillage.com

WhoWhere?
companies.whowhere.com

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Law Related Web Resources
Table I

Legal Research Starting Points Legislation Administrative Agencies & Federal Regulations Case Law
FindLaw
www.findlaw.com

Legal Information Institute
(Cornell University)

www.law.cornell.edu

The Legal List:
Research on the Internet
www.lcp.com/The-
Legal-List/TLL-home.
html


U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library
law.house.gov

Hieros Gamos
www.hg.org

Washburn University
lawlib.wuacc.edu

United States Code at Legal Information Institute
www.law.cornell.edu
Hypertext United States Code

United States Code at House Law Library
law.house.gov/usc.htm
Online U.S.C. with much search flexibility

THOMAS
thomas.loc.gov
U.S. Congressional Legislative Resources – The EASY way to compile a legislative history

ALSO!: American Law Sources Online
www.lawsource.com/also
Search for state law resources

Federal Web Locator
www.law.vill.edu/fed-
agency/fedwebloc.html

The best directory of links to online federal agencies. Agency web sites often publish agency decisions, agency regulations and other agency publications.

Code of Federal Regulations at the House Law Library
law.house.gov/cfr.htm
Searchable C.F.R.

Federal Register at GPO Access
www.access.gpo.gov

Supreme Court – current
supct.law.cornell.edu/
supct/index.html

Cases from 1990 to the present from the Legal Information Institute

Supreme Court – 1937-1975
– FLITE at both www.law.vill.edu/
Fed-Ct/sct.html
and www.fedworld.gov/
supcourt

Created from the Air Force’s FLITE database and now available at both Villanova and FedWorld

Supreme Court – historic
supct.law.cornell.edu/
supct/cases/historic.htm

Selected historic Supreme Court decisions from the Legal Information Institute

United States Court of Appeals
www.law.emory.edu/FEDCTS
Federal Courts Finder at Emory Law School connects to individual U.S. Courts of Appeals. Case availability varies by circuit, but none goes back prior to 1990.

Supreme Court – Oral Arguments
oyez.at.nwu.edu/oyez.html
Audio files of recordings of selected Supreme Court oral arguments from Oyez Oyez Oyez: A Supreme Court WWW Resource

Meta-Index for Legal Research
gsulaw.gsu.edu/metaindex/
Georgia State University’s Meta-Index pulls together search utilities from many sources of online U.S. law and puts them in one place.

ALSO!:AmericanLaw Sources Online
www.lawsource.com/also
Search for state law resources

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Law Related Web Resources
Table II

Foreign & International Law Law Reviews & Newsletters Legal Resources by Topic Professional Connections
FindLaw International Law Sources
www.findlaw.com/
12international/index.
html
Links to international organizations & laws of foreign countries. Also allows for a web search of law resources by continent.

U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library
law.house.gov
Extensive list of links to laws of other nations, treaties and international law.

Lists of Online Law Reviews:

University of Southern California
www.usc.edu/dept/law-lib/
legal/journals.html

Brief descriptions and links to online law reviews

University of Richmond E-Journals List
www.urich.edu/
~jolt/other.html


Online Journals Full-Text Search
www.findlaw.com/
lawreviews/index.html

Allows a keyword search through the text of online law reviews

Online Law-Related News:

Law Library Resource Xchange
www.llrx.com

Law Journal Extra!
www.ljx.com

Web sites pulling together Internet law resources about a particular legal topic. Find good subject-oriented directories of these sites at:

Hieros Gamos
www.hg.org/hg2.html

FindLaw
www.findlaw.com

Legal Information Institute
www.law.cornell.edu

U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library
law.house.gov

Law Journal Extra!
www.ljx.com

Associations:

American Bar Association
www.abanet.org

FindLaw Links to Other Professional Associations
www.findlaw.com/
06assocations/index.
html


Directories:

Martindale-Hubbell
www.martindale.com

West’s Legal Directory
www.wld.com

Hieros Gamos
www.hg.org/hg1.html

Listserv Lists:

Law Lists from Lyonette Louis-Jacques
www.lib.uchicago.edu/
~llou/lawlists/info.html

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Posted in: Features, Search Strategies
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