1 March 2000

Searching on the Web

The web is a big place (40 million computers and growing). There is a lot of treasure out there, among the trash.
These are my tips for finding things on the Web. There are lots of search engines, and different ones are good for different things.
These are the best in each category. Bookmark them.

http://www.download.com/ - best for software
eg shareware, freeware, downloadable demos
It is organised, and it is fast, so large downloads come as quickly as possible.
Links often go back to the publishers sites which may not be as fast.

http://people.yahoo.com/ - best for finding people
eg email addresses, phone number.
For biblical scholars, it is also worth trying Tyndale Fellowship members (http://www.TyndaleHouse.com/TFMembers.htm). Normally the SBL Membership directory is worth searching (http://www.sbl-site.org/) but it is now restricted only to members.

http://www.cam.ac.uk/Searching/ - best for Cambridge
eg libraries, colleges, and the rest of the Web
Cambridge Computing Service has a huge web site where you can find out anything about Cambridge and most things about computers. A useful starting point for other searches as well.

http://www.yahoo.co.uk/ - best for finding a site or a firm
eg a manufacturer or a site on a specific subject.
Yahoo is "Yet Another Heirarchically Organised Operator". They aim to categorise the web in a thesuarus or tree-shaped structure. You can either click on a category then a sub-category then a sub-sub-category and so on, or you can enter a word or two or three to search for.

http://www.google.com/ - best for finding text
eg a quote, or a page with specific words in it.
Google is a concordance of the whole web. It sends robots (called spiders) to all the 40 million computers which host web pages, adds all the words to its search engine, and ranks the sites according to how many other sites point to them.

http://www.mamma.com/ - best for general searches
This is the 'mother' of all search engines. It combines the results of lots of other search engines, in a fairly intelligent way.

http://www.goshen.net/ - best for Christian topics
eg church organisations, Bible, Christian resources, Christian news
Goshen is a carefully filtered site. You won't find anything offensive, and everything will be 'good quality' (though their criteria may not be the same as yours). A good starting point, but use other search engines too.

http://search.britannica.com/ - best for the Facts
eg, authoritative articles on history, science, geography, news
The authority of Encyclopaedia Britannica, with links to other web sites.
Good for quick introductions, in-depth authoritative articles and links to the best of the Web.

http://www.allexperts.com/ - when you've tried and failed
Real humans who answer real questions.
They have specialists covering all sciences and humanities. Don't expect in-depth expertise. They aren't being paid for this.

http://groups.google.com/ - for technical questions
eg computer problems, academic discussions, expert advice
This used to be called Deja. It is a record of all the Usenet Newsgroups discussions - the serious part of the web which most people ignore (this is what the internet used to be all about). This is like a huge repository of questions and answers, and it is likely that the answer you are seeking has been asked for by someone else. But don't believe everything you read there - these answers are usually from enthusiasts, not experts.

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