Northern Light's Custom Search Folders

Northern Light's Custom Search Folders

From The Search Engine Report
Sept. 3, 1997

Northern Light has a few twists to help differentiate it from the existing major search engines. One of these is its ability to classify documents by topic, through its "Custom Search Folders."

For example, search for "bill clinton" on Northern Light, and standard search engine results appear on the right side of the screen. But on the left side, the Custom Search Folders group all the returned documents into browsable topics such as "Non-profit sites," "White House" or by site, such as "" for the Republican National Committee.

You can select a folder to see sub-topics. Each selection narrows the number of returned documents, but all the documents listed remain relevant to the initial search terms.

The Custom Search Folders are likely to be compared to similar features on other services, so it's important to understand the differences.

AltaVista's Refine function, formerly LiveTopics, will automatically group documents by relevant keywords. However, these aren't browsable. You can use the system as a means of selecting new words to assist in conducting a new search. It's more a dynamic thesaurus than a document categorization feature.

Infoseek automatically categorizes documents in its collection by topics, which are browsable. It even goes further and will suggest likely topics relevant to a particular search. However, selecting a topic immediately takes you away from the original results. In contrast, Northern Light's topics are directly related to the original results and are meant to help narrow the results.

The Inference Find meta-search service comes closest to matching Northern Light's folder system. It groups documents in a similar way. However, as a meta-crawler, it only pulls back the top results from a variety of search services. If there are good documents listed "further" down in the results, these won't be returned. Northern Light's results, in contast, are based on the original document set from its own index.

Other Resources

Northern Light Help & Hints

Here you'll find help on using Northern Light.

AltaVista Refine Search Tips
Specifics on using AltaVista Refine option to narrow or expand a search.


Inference Find