SEO News

Just the Facts, Please

by , Comments

While the major search engines continue to dabble with shortcuts to reference sources, Wikipedia and Answers.com have quietly evolved into two of the most comprehensive online search resources for quick, free and reliable ready reference information.

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, written and edited by volunteers. There have been many debates about the relative value of the Wikipedia and commercial encyclopedias. Most of the focus has been on the fact that the structure of the Wikipedia (like any other wiki, or collaboratively-created document) allows anyone to change an existing article and, with some limitations, to create a new article. Fortunately, the Wikipedia is "tended" by a number of editors, and people who have authored articles can also monitor any changes to their material, which serves as a quick correction to changes that are wrong or malicious.

More background on how the Wikipedia works can be found in the Wikipedia article within the Wikipedia itself. Wired magazine's The Book Stops Here is a great profile of Wikipedia and its founders.

While I take anything I read in the Wikipedia with a grain of salt, I do the same for any other reference source. I had a project a while ago that involved the market for tungsten, something I knew little about. I realized that I first had to figure out what this metal was and what it was used for. I headed over to Wikipedia and... bingo! The article there gave me plenty of background information, so I could head off to other sources to get the information my client needed.

There's a lot of intelligence built into the Wikipedia. I was looking for information on a breed of dog that a friend thinks may be part of my puppy's very mixed parentage, so I typed "viszla" in the search box. Happily, I was redirected to the article on Vizslas, a Hungarian hunting dog. And if you search for "Mercury", you will be shown a "disambiguation" page that lists the various entries for Mercury, including the planet, the element, the car, and even the singer Freddie Mercury.

Just be warned—the Wikipedia is addictive. Each article is full of links to related concepts, and once you start clicking, there goes an hour of your day.

The other ready-reference site I use frequently is Answers.com (http://www.answers.com), formerly the fee-based GuruNet. While the site offers some plug-ins that I don't feel the need for, its main strength is in providing quick answers. Answers.com also has a useful "auto search" feature: Just type its URL followed by the topic you want to search in any browser address bar—for example, http://answers.com/tungsten.

The tungsten entry in Answers.com includes:

  • Several dictionary definitions, along with an audio file with someone pronouncing the word
  • A brief entry from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia
  • The Wikipedia article on tungsten
  • Translations of the word into 14 languages
  • A link to a "best of the web" site, pointing you to a relevant page from one of the US Department of Energy labs

And a search for Boeing retrieves:

  • A brief company profile
  • Links to 10 recent articles on the company
  • Stock price information
  • The Wikipedia article on Boeing
  • Links to "best of the web" sites; curiously, no link to Boeing's own site

Answers.com works best for quick look-ups—aggregated information on a city or a company, for example, or how to pronounce a word. Since much of its content comes from the Wikipedia, if you need more in-depth information, you are better off just going directly to the Wikipedia.

AOL's Pinpoint Travel URL

Yesterday's SearchDay inadvertently omitted a link to AOL's new Pinpoint Travel. The URL is http://www.pinpointravel.com.

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.

Top 14 Search Engine Marketing Mistakes...
Business Know-How Mar 22 2005 6:32AM GMT
Search Marketing Techniques, Deceptive Advertising Laws & Other Laws...
Search Engine Guide Mar 22 2005 2:32AM GMT
Forever Famous...
Newsweek Mar 22 2005 1:22AM GMT
HP to Buy Online Photo Startup Snapfish...
Reuters (via Yahoo News) Mar 22 2005 1:19AM GMT
Chirac Plans French 'Counter-Offensive' on Internet Culture...
NewsFactor Network Mar 22 2005 12:07AM GMT
Full Text Court Filings in AFP v. Google Case...
Search Engine Watch Mar 22 2005 12:03AM GMT
State of the Blogosphere...
Sifry Alerts Mar 21 2005 11:50PM GMT
New Resource, Official Launch: Ourmedia...
ResourceShelf Mar 21 2005 11:38PM GMT
RSS Adoption Not Really Simple...
dmnews.com Mar 21 2005 11:33PM GMT
MSN Tests Shopping Search Engine...
Media Post Mar 21 2005 11:32PM GMT
Yahoo API Updates...
Google Blogoscoped Mar 21 2005 11:30PM GMT
British Library to Digitize World's Oldest Bible...
ALA Mar 21 2005 11:27PM GMT
Yahoo Changes Tune on Firefox Support...
BetaNews Mar 21 2005 11:27PM GMT
Commentary: Diller asks for search...
CNET News.com Mar 21 2005 11:20PM GMT
Local Search: Convert and Win...
Search Engine Watch Mar 21 2005 11:19PM GMT


ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!*
*Early Bird Rates expire April 17.

Recommend this story

comments powered by Disqus