In a bid to differentiate itself from Google and the other major search players, Lycos has rolled out two search tools aimed at helping people connect with other people.
Lycos People Search uses the company's WhoWhere database to provide white pages information. There are also radio buttons that allow you to select a web search, or background check, professional profile or alumni email addresses via partnerships with third party sources. A form at the bottom of the page lets you run a yellow pages lookup via Verizon's SuperPages.com.
Like most online people search tools, the quality of results varies widely, and includes information that's out of date or inaccurate. Overall, the new people search tool has a "me-too" feel to it.
By contrast, the new Lycos Discussion Search tool is quite good. The tool targets some of the Web's most popular public community boards and forums, such as Yahoo Groups, MSN Groups, About.com and others. It also finds forums on smaller sites throughout the web.
And while it doesn't appear to directly search Usenet ala Google Groups, Lycos discussion search results do include relevant pages from faqs.org, the quasi-official Usenet FAQ archive. In turn, these frequently asked questions pages have links to Usenet via Google Groups, allowing you to peruse Usenet forums just as easily as other web based forums.
Search results also provide links to "related organizations," a refinement tool that helps you narrow your query to specific groups.
I'm impressed with the Discussion Search tool. It fills a major gap overlooked by the major search providers, offering a powerful way to locate online message forums.
The two search services are the first in a promised series of what Lycos calls "connectivity products."
"The new Lycos aims to help users find people and share their passions. These products are a first step in realizing that goal," said Mark Stoever, CEO of Lycos U.S.
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