By: Charles Bowen
Most Web warriors have come to the conclusion that Google has set the standard for Internet searching. Some are even declaring Google the winner in the race for the perfect Net search engine.
While I’m not ready to stray into that particular holy war, I do think that even if Google (http://www.google.com) is the searcher we’ve all been searching for, there’s still a great need for specialized search facilities on the Web. And nobody knows that need for world-class subject-specific search tools better than working journalists. Google is grand — and getting grander by the day, it seems — but if you’re in a hurry, 1,120,000 hits on the name “Arafat” is way too many to be terribly useful, even if it did take only 0.11 seconds for Google to garner them all.
Increasingly, the darlings of reporters and editors on deadline are topic-targeted searchers. We’ve talked about a number of them in this space over the past few years, especially those devoted to business, government, medicine, and the like. Judging from my e-mail, journalists are particularly interested in the searchers that target breaking news, so this week we have another news search engine that you can add to your Internet tool belt. Daypop is a site that scours more than 7,000 news sites around the Web. According to the site’s operators, “Daypop crawls the living Web at least once a day.” It defines “living Web” as sites that are updated on a daily basis, including those operated by newspapers, online magazines, and what are called personal “Weblogs,” that is, online opinion columns or public diaries.
To get started, visit the site at http://www.daypop.com/ where you are greeted with a simple data-entry box. Enter a word or phrase and click the “Search” button. Daypop automatically finds pages that include all the words in your query. Searches are not case-sensitive. Search results are ranked according to the nearness of search terms, so pages on which the search terms occur close to each other are more likely to be ranked higher.
By default, the site searches all types of regularly updated sites, but you can limit your search to news sites or Weblogs. A pull-down menu to the right of the data entry box has options for searching All Pages, News sites, or Weblogs. If you want to target your search, make a selection here before clicking the Search button.
As with many search engines, you can have Daypop look for a specific phrase by enclosing it in quotation marks. For instance, a search query defined as “Delta Queen Steamboat Co.” (with the quotes) will find only those pages with that entire name included. In addition, you can use Daypop to search for pages that link to a specific URL by inserting the prefix “link:” before the Web address for which you’re searching. For example, “link:www.daypop.com” would find pages that contains links to Daypop itself.
Other considerations for using Daypop in your writing and editing:
1. As a rule, Daypop does not search for common words like “the” and “an,” since they generally just slow down the search and don’t improve the quality of the results. However, unlike some search engines, Daypop does enable you to force the issue. If you use a plus sign as a prefix to your search query — as in “+the” — you can force Daypop to look for documents containing that word.
2. Also, the minus sign in a query works as a logical “NOT.” So if you want to search for “ice” but not “ice cream,” you can enter the query as “ice -cream.”
3. The site also features an “Advanced Search” link from the main screen. Click on it to find a page that offers checkboxes that let you target your search to specific countries and time ranges.