|Many people use Bing (or Live Search, or whatever Microsoft's calling it this year) because it's what comes up automatically when they click the "Search" button in Internet Explorer. But this is a service run by a corporation with an obvious agenda, so it doesn't give unbiased results based on what's most relevant to your request, but based on what Microsoft wants you to see (or what they've been paid to show you). For example, it used to be that a search for "linux" listed a tech article published by Microsoft as the #3 result, and a guide to dumping Linux for Windows as #4... pages that wouldn't have shown up anywhere near the top on less biased search services.|
|The Open Directory Project is a hierarchical directory compiled and selected entirely by human editors. This means that you can have confidence that the links it offers really match what you're looking for. As a collective, volunteer effort it's done in the same spirit as open-source software, making it entirely free: for webmasters to submit sites to it, for individuals to search it, and even for search portals to use the directory itself. It suffers a little in sections where there's a lack of current editors to review and maintain them, but the lack of commercialism (except on the part of sites listed in the directory, of course) gives its listing a level of integrity that other directories tend to lack. It's administered by Netscape, who donate its upkeep to the Web community.|
|The fact that "Google" has become a verb refelects the company's status as the current reigning king of search engines. It was created as an independent research project and has grown to become the mostly widely-trusted search service on the internet. In addition to keyword-based text searches (with millions of results), it has image searches, a hierchically-organised directory, interactive access and an archive of the public Usenet discussion-group hierarchy, and they are experimenting with news and shopping search services. Its "sponsored" links (ads) are clearly identified as such, and limited to text (i.e. no annoying animations).|
|Yahoo wasn't the first directory for the Web (its name was an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle") but it was the first to become really useful, and therefore popular, which helped make it an attractive site to advertise on, which transformed into into the content- and services-loaded "portal" site it is today. But the directory is still there, and the search function uses the advanced Inktomi database that's licenced by other sites (including MSN).|
|DEC's AltaVista was one of the pioneers in full-text searching of the Web, and despite several changes of ownership over the years it remains one of the better indexes available, including images, audio, and video among its options. AltaVista also offers the Babelfish translation service, which does a remarkably good job of translating any web site you specify (or text you paste into it) between English and other Eurasian languages.|
|Ask encourages users to enter their search requests in the form of questions using everyday English, rather than a handful of keywords. It also offers a filtered kid-appropriate search service.|
|Dogpile is a meta-search engine. It's probably not the best place to start your search, but if your favorite search tool isn't come up with much, it's a good place to go next. As a meta-search tool, it searches several of the most popular search engines for the terms you give it, which is useful when you're looking for the most possible information on the least common topics.|
|The original experts on searching for information are Librarians, and the American Library Association has an excellent resource for information about search engines, directories, and such. So if you aren't finding what you like, check with them for more suggestions about where to look, and how.|
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