To say it at the beginning: there is no such thing as the right location for all search requests to the Internet. The decision depends on your personal favour and on the item you are searching for. This chapter will examine available locations for the search and will discuss pro and contras. For each of the discussed categories there are several websites which provide the described service. Within each category still there might be a wide range in quality in the available services.
External source: The value of information sources outside of the Internet is often underestimated. But Internet addresses can be found in the real live to a wide degree. For the address of a company e.g. this could be on the head of their last letter or on a business card. The request for the otherwise unknown website of a friend could easily be gathered by a single phone call.
In some case the demanded Internet address might be guessed, which is pretty quickly done but might produce misleading results if guessed wrongly. That is because each Internet address is unique of cause and given to the content provider who requests it first. Special well-known trademarks or similiar brands such as Volkswagen or The White House may not be used by anyone as the owner of the brand has the right on the name which includes the name of Internet addresses. But beside of that there are billions of other names which are free to be used by anyone who deserves so.
Once you have found a website you like you should bookmark it as a favorite in the menubar of your browser. This way you will soon have collected all your most important websites in a kind of personal "Internet adress book".
Conclusion: The number of external source is very small compared to the huge amount of information in the Internet. But they have a very high relevance as in most cases they are directly connected with your life. In case you have access to an external source with low effort you should make use of it.
Examples: Favorites, letters, business cards, friends, news papers
Search engine: search engines harvest the Internet with great effort and store almost every result they could find within their huge databases. In doing so search engines "know" several billions of Websites. Even though there is still many data they have not yet detected the amount of data they contain is enormous.
In most cases the result of too open search requests is enormous as well (The request at Google for the item "car" returned at the beginning of November 2007 about 779.000.000 results). Not all of these results are of interest for the searcher as many of the resulting sites only marginally deal with cars or are of poor quality. To make the result nevertheless useful search engines use automated calculations and rankings to list the best result on the top positions of the result lists. Even though such "ranking" methods have improved over the years you can not be sure that the provided results are the best you could get for your personal needs.
Conclusion: Search engines are the most used search spots in the Internet and that is not without cause. Due to their large amount of stored data they could provide results even for very unusual search requests. If you are looking for very unfamiliar items your first search spot should be a search engine - if it does provide no result at all it is unlikely to find information at any other search spot (please check your spelling in that case).
But search engines provide good results for well-known search items as well. As the list of results is very large the searcher needs to use techniques to render his request more precisely to get the most adequate results from those available.
A drawback is that related results are not shown in case they do not contain the requested words and that the description of results is generated automatically from the scanned page (which is made by the owner of the website and might be manipulated).
Examples: Google, Yahoo!, Altavista, Excite
Directory: A directory is nothing but a sorted collection of links collected by the owner or the users of the directory website. Those links will be sorted in folders by different themes and in most cases got an description and evaluation. A good editorial directory would include Websites of high quality only. Unfortunally many directories try to increase the amount of their content by accepting almost every website. In such cases the gain for the users is often much less than directly requesting at a search engine. But once you found a good directory, you will find a selection of high quality results sorted in theme folders and extended with further information.
Conclusion: Directories have a wide spread of quality and it might take a while to find a good directory. Once you found a good editorial directory you get a selected offer of high quality websites along with further information on them. The main strength of a directory is that it will provide a general view on a selected theme, containing related search items along with those directly connected with the request. This allows to find important results of which's existence the searcher did not even know when he started the request.
Searching special items which are of interest only for a few people at a directory is hopeless in most cases. Special items are better to be searched at search engines or lexicons.
Examples: pooq *, dmoz, Alexa, Bellnet
*Diese Seite wird ebenfalls vom Betreiber dieser Webseite betrieben.
Lexicon: A lexicon provides descriptions and meanings of searched words. This is not different to what a printed lexicon does. An online lexicon tends to contain more terms connected to everydays life and lifestyle than a printed lexicon. As the production of an online lexicon is more flexible they can be quite more up-to-date than the recent version of a printed lexicon. Very often new events or terms are described on the very day they happened or were created.
Conclusion: In almost any case you would fetch a printed lexicon from your shelf you might as well use an online lexicon. In many cases you will get more recent and more detailed information. If you are searching for a description or the meaning of your search term do not bother visiting one of the other search spots but straightaway send yor request to your favourite lexicon.
Examples: Wikipedia , Encyclopaedia Britannica, wiktionary
Most providers of archives offer legal content but you should neverthelsess be cautious when using an archive. One reason is that downloading and using files on your computer might be a security threat. Secondly when buying copyright protected content you would need to ensure whether the website has any kind of right or licence to offer the protected material.
Conclusion: If you are searching for content in form of files in archive is a good address to search at because in the archive you will at least find a collection of files of the requested filetype.
Examples: download.com (software), Fotocommunity (photos)
Warning: Before downloading or using files from the Internet make sure that you have been granted the needed rights to do so. The fact alone that some material (such as pictures) is shown in the Internet does not automatically mean that you are allowed to download or use it at your demands.
Social Communities: Social communities experienced a kind of a boom lately. The basic idea is to allow all users to store their favorite links online and let it be accessable by the other users as well. Almost every social community therefore offers options to transfer the browser`s favorites to the community or vice versa.
Due to this open system the links often have a high topicality but a wide range of quality as well. The sorting of the links into categories and keywords is done by the users.
Conclusion: As every user of a social community could act as an editor as well the structure of the given links tends to be a bit confusing sometimes. Additionally the link quality covers a wide range. This makes it difficult to use a social community for a specific search. The main advantage is the topicality which invites to rummaging. This can bring a lot of unexpected information especially as the amount of linked sites is in most cases very high.
|External Source||Internet addresses could be searched outside of the Internet as well. Companies spread their addresses in advertisements, business cards or in the headers of their letters. Friends with the same interest tend to know suiting websites from their explorations. If you store all your favorite links in the favorites menu of your browser you will soon have your own Internet address book.||
|Search Engine||Search engines collected a gigantic number of websites in their indexes. If you are searching for a common topic you need to express a precise search request or you will drown in the huge number of results. On the other hand there is a good change to find even very specific topics.||1||
|Directory||A directory evaluates and categorizes the indexed websites. A good editorial directory selects only links of high quality so the user does not need to sort out huge amounts of useless links from the result list. This make directories a good place to get a wide overview on a given theme.||2||
|Lexicon||A lexicon tries to explain as many topics as possible on their website. You will get almost everything you need if you are searching for the meaning and some background information of a given word. But there are only few links to other relevant websites listed.||
|Archive||An archive is specialized on a certain theme or more often on a certain type of files. So you are at least at a good place for starting to search what you really look for. It' s like going to a music store (instead of a bakery) to buy a new piece of music. You are at the right place already but still would have to search for your favorite song within the store. There are archives for almost every type of file: pictures, music, texts, software and more. Please make sure that the archive offers no copyright protected material without authorisation. Also keep in mind to use trustworthy archives only for downloading files, because files might be infected by malignant software. Normally there are only few or no links to other relevant websites in an archive.||
|Social communities||In a Social community all users share links to websites and news they think important. Maybe it could by compared with a flea market: you go there search around a bit and in the end find links to websites of your interest you did not before were actively searching for.||
1 Quality can increase when using good search requests.
2 Quality varies with the criteria used by the editor.
3 This site is run by the same author running this site
4 All material is of the wanted type (e.g. pictures, music), which leads to the positive evaluation. Nevertheless the quality of the archived items may widely range in quality.
"They came to see and to be seen as well"