Conference Topic:

I'd like each of you to take a subject that you know well or the topic you've chosen for this class, and search for an aspect of that topic in Google ( and your favorite Web search tool then look at the results you get. If Google is already your favorite, then choose another one. If you need help choosing a search tool, see

Compare the search results in terms of:

* relevance (are they on target or not? and are the most relevant first in the list?)
* value (look at a few of the first results--are they up-to-date? Can you judge the authority of whoever created the page, and does that person (group) have any authority or standing in the field? Is the information provided complete, useful and objective?

Using the criteria listed above write a response stating which you think is the better search engine, and why. Respond to at least one of your classmate's answers.


Search Engines
by Theresa L. Ford on 02-08-2004

Search Terms: "poison ivy" urushiol


As I maintain an information website on poison ivy, I wanted to not only search for relevance and value, but to see where my site would come up. I decided to include the term 'urushiol', the oleoresin that causes the rash, as an indication of the level of scientific detail I am seeking about poison ivy.

I am predisposed to like as it at least lists my site in its first page's results. As only lists three sites, I shall only review the first three returned by the search engines.

From, only 1 of the 3 sites references urushiol on the linked page. Aside from stating urushiol as an oil, not correctly as an oleoresin, the description of how soap works was mildly interesting, if only tangental to the discussion of poison ivy.

That site shows up again at, but in third place, instead of first. First place belongs to an article published at an .edu website, from Herbalgram (American Botanical Council), and is coauthored by a doctor. The information here was so impressive, I went back and modified my site to link to it. The second is just a general poison ivy prevention site.'s first link is to the second of's, that is, the general poison ivy prevention site. The second link, from a .gov domain, is also rather general, trying to cover too much information in a brief space. The third link, written by a retired immunology instructor, has more scientific detail and is closer to my original search desire. In ninth place, one of the pages from my site appears!

For general uselessness, comes in first with nothing really relevant and limited results and I am planning on forgetting the URL. finds 1575 pages, while finds almost twice that number, 3,520. Few people venture beyond the first 3-10 pages, so what gets listed first has more weight. Both search engines returned a page in the top three with scientific notes on poison ivy.'s was listed first while's was listed third. Both of these two sites were written by scholars in a related field.

Scanning down's first page results, there appears to be about four advertising links for poison ivy cures included. This evens out to which returns 10 instead of 15 links. For "content" sites,'s results list seems to include more pertinent responses. For a quick search that is likely to be resolved in the first few links, both search engines appear equal. To find a number of relevant sites, seems better.