The InFind.com meta search site ceased operating earlier this week, and it remains uncertain whether it will be returning.
"I'm hoping that we can resurrect this, but I don't know that we can," said Allan Kaplan, InFind's chief executive officer.
InFind, formerly known as Inference Find, was a unique meta search service that "clustered" results by topic, similar to the operation of Northern Light's "custom search folders" that appear along the left-side of its results page or how the relatively new Vivisimo meta search service presents its listings.
While InFind wasn't one of the web's most popular meta search engines, it did have a dedicated user base. About five messages per day have been coming in regarding its missing in action status.
"This is really too bad, because it was nice to have a search engine that divided the material between commercial, educational, non-profit sites, allowing users the advantage of locating authoritative information without the need for sifting through sites themselves," wrote one Search Engine Watch visitor, about InFind.
Kaplan said funding difficulties, due to a lack of advertisers or an alternative revenue model, forced the site's closure.
"Times have changed, and the environment has gotten tougher, so at this moment it's not clear what will happen with InFind. We're hoping to get back on the air, after we solve some funding issues," Kaplan said.
By Friday or next Monday, Kaplan expects to at least have a page up to keep InFind users informed of the site's status. At the moment, visitors simply get a page telling them that the site is no longer in service.
If InFind doesn't return, this promising new meta search service may be a home for its former users. Results clustering is a key part of its operation.
Northern Light crawls the web on its own, rather than working as a meta search site. Clustered results are shown in the "Custom Search Folders" portion of the results page.
Inference to Transfer InferenceFind to InFind.com
Inference Press Release, Feb. 24, 2000
InFind.com is a separate company that grew out technology developed by Inference, which itself was absorbed by eGain. More details can be found on this press release.
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