Experimenting with other search engines

I’ve been a Google user so long I can hardly remember what I used before it.  Alta Vista maybe?  Or Yahoo.  I’ve tried Bing off and on but it never really stuck.  I probably care more about search engines than your average user because of their impact on SQLTeam.com.  Lately I’ve been trying two other search engines and actually switched to one of them.

I’ve played with Blekko a little in the past.  They have some interesting ways to “slice up” your results.  For example, searching on “SQL Server /blogs /date” should just search all the recently updated blogs.  Those two extra words on the search are slashtags.  The full list of slashtags runs from /forums to just see forums to /twitter to /nikon to /reviews and on and on and on.  I laughed when I saw they had slashtags for both liberal and conservative.  I’d hate to find any search results that don’t match my existing worldview :) 

You can also create your own slashtags.  I created a mini-search engine for the SQL Server blogs that I read.  You can search it for “backup” at http://blekko.com/ws/backup+/billgraziano/sql-sites.  I uploaded my OPML and it limited the search to just those sites.  It seems like the site is focusing more on curating results and less on algorithms. 

This is an interesting site for those power searchers.  There are some great ways to curate results using slashtags.  For 99% of my searches (type words, click on one of the first few links) slashtags are overkill.  They do have some good information on page and site ranking though so I’ll probably send some time looking through that.

Blekko recently got my attention again when they said they were banning “content farms” - and that includes eHow and experts-exchange.  I always feel used when I click on a link to EE and find myself scrolling all the way to the bottom to see if I can find the answer.  Sometimes it’s there but sometimes it tells me I need to pay first.  I’ve longed for a way to always exclude certain sites.  Blekko might be taking a hammer to a problem that needs a scalpel but it’s an interesting choice.  (And some of the comments in the TechCrunch link are interesting if you’re a search nerd.)

DuckDuckGo is an odd name for a search engine.  Their big hook is that they don’t have search history.  If you wade through your Google account you can probably find the page where it stores your search history.  It was pretty enlightening to find mine.  It was easy to disable but that got me started looking at other search engines.  DDG (or DukGo) just feels like Google used to in the old days.  The results are good enough and the site is fast.

Searches will return a snippet from WikiPedia or other site (like StackOverflow) at the top.  I think the idea is to answer the question without needing to visit the site.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing for SQLTeam.com.

The only thing I really miss is image search.  You can add a “!i” at the end of any search and it will search the images on Bing.  Bing doesn’t have a great image search but it works for most of what I need.  They call these exclamation marks “!bangs” and they are kinda, sorta like slashtags. 

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo now for a few weeks and I’m pretty happy with it.  I use Chrome for my browser and it was an easy switch to make.  It’s still a little surprising seeing my search results come up in a different format.  I’m starting to get used to it though.

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