Probably, This Is the Most Unbiased Reliable Search Engine: Open Directory Project


Jun 30, 2001


The Bottom Line The most serious issues at search engines are reliability and unbiasedness. Here is how you can minimize these issues.

When it comes to search engines, the most serious issue is the reliability of the search results. Even if the database includes the information on millions of web sites, the search engine is completely useless, if the database is filled with junks.

To avoid this issue, many search engines calculate the relevance between search words and the web page contents before they list up the results. Also, many search engines installed content filters and other advanced search features, which presumably enhance the reliability.

However, as long as robots or pure computer technology build the database, there is always the space for useless pages to sneak into the database.


LookSmart Network
Recently, LookSmart established the own network, and started manual database construction. Based on their claims, LookSmart Network covers more than 80% of US internet users. Even though the question on this number remains, LookSmart Network is doing the great job. Many web site owners are using the service provided by LookSmart Network.

My review on LookSmart.com is:
http://nyscramble.epinions.com/content_23749758596
A Survivor in Search Engine World: LookSmart.Com


However, there is a big problem with LookSmart Network. If you want them to list your web site, you have to pay the good amount of money in requesting for the qualification. Thus, in the narrow sense, LookSmart Network is not open to every site owner. It's open for those who are very serious about internet advertisement, and can afford the cost.

(Note that LookSmart Network is not to be blamed. It's a commercial company, and its strong market power beat up the competitors. This is the result of what we call capitalism.)

Since only e-commerce based web sites can be indexed at LookSmart Network, the search results drawn from LookSmart database is skewed toward the commercial web sites. For the shopping purpose, this is okay. But for the research purpose, it is not desirable.

Now, the question is if we can find the unbiased reliable search engine (database).


Unbiasedness and Reliability
These two measurements are very different from each other.

Unbiasedness is the political criterion, which implies the lack of political censorship. If there is a human involved in building the database, the search engine results might well be unbiased.

Reliability is another measurement. It often refers the number of dead links, but it's not limited to. Even if the web page includes a lot of relevant words, it is not guaranteed that the page content is relevant.

For example, if you search with "breast cancer" at regular search engines, you will see a pile of adult pages. (Of course, they are not relevant to breast cancer.)

To enhance the reliability, the intellectual database construction is necessary. In other words, somebody has to access the page to check the relevance before the page is indexed.

The search engine satisfying these two criteria is great. You can save a lot of research time, and most of the pages you access will be very informative and useful.


Open Directory Project (ODP)
http://dmoz.org

Satisfying the criteria of unbiasedness and reliability, Open Directory Project builds the search database.

Technically speaking, ODP is not a search engine. It's a web directory service. The most famous web directory is Yahoo!

ODP is supported by a lot of volunteer editors who are in charge of checking the relevance of the web pages to the specific category. If the web page doesn't pass the screening process, it is not indexed.

All the editors are directed to be unbiased and fair. Moreover, they simply love this volunteer job. The editors' volunteer work is very highly appreciated.

The most significant difference between LookSmart Network and ODP is in the way the candidate web pages are submitted.

At LookSmart, the submitters have to pay the cost. On the contrary, ODP is free, which results in unbiasedness. To be more specific, everybody can submit useful and informative web pages without any monetary cost. So, the bias toward the uninformative commercial sites is avoided to the large extent.

Even though the coverage over internet users by ODP is smaller than that by LookSmart Network, ODP supplies the database to AOL Search, Netscape Search, Google, Lycos, DirectHit, and HotBot, and hundreds of others. This is far more than enough, considering the monetary cost. (It's free.)

This site is highly recommended to both web marketers and search engine users.

Note: If you are a web marketer, and if you don't have a good informative web, don't even think about submitting your page to ODP. Editors are not robots, and their standard is high.


Remarks
The usefulness of search engine sites varies a lot. There are a lot of FFA (Free For All) sites, but nobody actually does the research at FFA sites.

If you are serious about advertising your page to the internet world, FFA sites and other similar junk sites are completely useless. You will receive a lot of junk mails at best.

These days, along with the aggravated economic situation in the US, the competition in the search engine industry is getting very tough. Consequently, if you don't have enough budgets for the advertisement, your tools are very limited.

However, it's not the end of the world. With the help from the volunteer group with the good faith, you can enhance your site performance a lot.


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