AltaVista's Oddities Explained

AltaVista says the odd results that I mentioned in the last newsletter (see below) were due to some experimenting it had underway -- visitors were randomly diverted to a testbed area, which was generating a different set of results than if the same query was run against the normal servers.

AltaVista
http://www.altavista.com/

AltaVista to climb new heights with IPO
News.com, Sept. 27, 1999
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-205463.html

AltaVista's IPO is now scheduled for next year, and the service has a relaunch scheduled for this month.

From the previous newsletter:

No, it's not your imagination -- AltaVista does indeed appear to have gone nuts. Numerous people are reporting that repeating the same query within seconds at the service can produce completely different results, and I've confirmed the same problem. Moreover, the service seems to indicate that its index of web pages has risen to over 300 million. I'll be following up on these issues.