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Hitting the Links at Researchville

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Researchville is a hybrid search site that offers some pretty nifty features, especially if you're searching for information from a U.S. daily newspaper. The site allows you to enter your query once and sets you up to get results from more than 650 sites, including more than 550 newspapers.

Like a meta search engine, Researchville pre-configures your query for optimal results for each of these sites. Unlike a meta search engine, it doesn't automatically send your query on for processing. Instead, it creates new links with your query embedded in each link.

Researchville is structured like a simple directory, with a number of top-level categories, including news, targeted directories, reference, opinion, and multimedia search resources. If you enter your query at the top level, the page is simply regenerated with your query embedded in the links. This can be a bit confusing at first, because it looks like the page hasn't changed at all.

Mouse over the links on the new page, though, and you'll see your query included in the links themselves.

Clicking a link either takes you to a subcategory with further options, or, in the case of specific search sites (say the Columbia Encyclopedia) initiates a search directly with the site you selected. This makes it easy to search a number of sites using same query without having to enter the query at each site.

There are several benefits to this approach. First, it saves you the time it takes to issue the query at each site. Meta search engines also offer this time savings, but they generally only search a dozen or so sites, and don't allow the flexibility offered by Researchville.

Second, if you repeat a search on a regular basis, you can simply bookmark your Researchville result page for the query. When you want to run the search again, simply select the bookmarked page and you're off and running.

Finally, since Researchville pre-configures your query using the specific parameters used by each unique search site, you don't have to learn the ins and outs of 650 search resources. Researchville takes care of the gruntwork for you.

The sites Researchville searches are all generally high-quality, authoritative sources of information. For example, in the Health and Medicine category, Researchville will queue up your query for the British Medical Journal, drkoop.com, InteliHealth, MayoClinic.com, OnHealth, and WebMD. These sites are all free and offer reliable information.

Researchville's links to daily newspaper archives are particularly useful if you're looking for information about a timely event. From Alabama's Montgomery Advertiser to Wyoming's Tribune-Eagle, you find links to most of the major newspapers in each state.

One caveat for the unwary. Once Researchville has set up query links for you, it often adds an additional link to open the results from each site in its own window. While in theory this means you can quickly scan the results from a bunch of sources all at once, the reality is this approach creates more problems than it's worth.

Why? Foremost is the excruciatingly annoying practice of opening additional pop-up or pop-under windows that many web sites are making users endure these days. Even if you think you're only opening up six new windows, you may end up with 12-18 new windows thanks to this obnoxious in-your-face advertising approach.

Second, Windows-based computer systems lose precious system resources each time a new browser window is opened and closed. Open enough new browser windows and soon your system will run out of resources, forcing you to reboot to continue working.

Neither of these problems, of course, are Researchville's fault. In fact, opening new windows for each result works extremely well if you use a browser with tabbed windows like NetCaptor or Opera. But if you're running Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator I'd avoid using the option.

Researchville is a simple, but extremely useful site for searchers. Take some time to sample its various features, especially if you're searching for current U.S. news.

Researchville
http://www.researchville.com

Metacrawlers
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/links/Metacrawlers/
Unlike search engines, metacrawlers don't crawl the web themselves to build listings. Instead, they allow searches to be sent to several search engines all at once. The results are then blended together onto one page. Here are links are some of the major metacrawlers.

News Search Engines
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/links/News_Search_Engines/
If you are still looking for news using "normal" search engines, stop doing it! You'll find the services listed here to be a much better way to search for the latest news stories from hundreds of sources on the web.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.


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