Did I ever mention that I have a unhealthy fixation with search engines and web directories? I'd like to say it goes back to when I was a search engine optimizer (the less said about that hellish job, the better), but the truth is, I've been intrigued by information retrieval systems ever since I took that one library science class back in 1993. I'm still an academic at heart, and being able to find information is important to me.
Of course, being a websnob, finding information on the Internet is very important to me, and so is making sure that the information I produce can be found. That's all I want really: a rational Internet where everyone has a fair chance to find what they're looking for, and everyone has a fair chance to get their message out. Sucessful networks need connections, and search engines are the main connecting force of the Internet.
Search Engine Snob is part of Websnob's mission to talk about the Web the way it is and the way it should be. I'll tell you everything I know about the engines listed here, including what's good and what's bad. I'll try to nudge towards searching with the promising or well-designed sites (even if they're little leaguers) and nudge you away from the also-rans (even if they're the ones with Silicon Valley funding). I'm mostly interested in promoting search services that a good for the users rather than the engines that are good for business.
On the other hand, I'm also a webmaster, so I'll try to look at search providers from the webmasters' side of things, and pass along some tips for peaceful coexistance. I'm not going to tell anyone how to dominate search results, because I'm too old to care about that crap anymore. I want an Internet I can use, and I don't care if nobody makes money off me.
At the moment, Search Engine Snob is focused on reviewing the second-tier search services on the Web. I did that because those are the engines that I think haven't been discussed as thoroughly as they could, and because it'll take me two weeks to write down everything I know about Google.
First up is a review of NetInsert.com, a "programmable web directory" that's been around for a couple years, but is just now getting some attention. It's got some good ideas, but it's not going to get very far unless it steps up its recruiting. (Reviewed 3 May 2002)
Another site that's been around for a while: my review of Gigablast, the game site that's morphed into a Google clone. It may be more popular than NetInsert, but it's significantly less creative, too. (Reviewed 4 May 2002)
The review of Teoma is a lengthy one, because I just kept finding things wrong with Jeeves's new toy. Some people think it's a Google-killer, but I think it's just an over-hyped mess. (Reviewed 5 May 2002)
The review of SurfGopher takes a look at a third-tier engine that's been around for a good while without making a big impression. There's probably a reason for that. (Reviewed 14 May 2002)
The review of Quick! required some extra detective work, because Quick! is a search engine that's only meant to be seen by users of certain alternate top-level domains. If you've been seeing the host "eps.new.search.new.net" appearing in your webserver's referer logs, you're seeing referrals from Quick!. (Reviewed 17 May 2002)
I'm not a fan of most "internet marketers", since most of their work seems focused on manipulating search engines. You can imagine my confusion when one of America's loudest web marketers opened his own engine. The review of Aesop.com cuts through a ridiculous amount of hype and ad-speak to reveal what a pathetically average search engine Aesop really is. (Reviewed 22 June 2002)
You're probably wondering what I meant at the top of the page when I mentioned the Fourth Coming. I'm being overly dramatic, as usual. The way I see it, three search services have taken turns dominating the field: Yahoo, AltaVista, and Google. Everyone is waiting to see who's next.