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The Melonfire Community - The HITG Report
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The Truth Is Out There...Somewhere
What's the difference between a spider, a search engine and a directory?

First of all, let's talk a little about the various types of search engines:

Engines: These are automatically-generated, maintained and updated lists of Web pages and Web sites. They are also called ‘spiders' or ‘crawlers'. Examples of these would be AltaVista or Lycos. A search on one of these engines usually results in a large number of matches, many of which are irrelevant.

Directories: These are not search engines per se, but rather databases of Web sites, classified into different categories. Human intervention is usually required for the classification part of the process. Yahoo! is an example of a directory. The human role here can sometimes result in more focused results, as compared to a spider.

Metasearch engines: These are engines that process queries on more than a single engine at a time. For example, a query for "Italian recipes" on a metasearch engine like Dogpile would display results from AltaVista, Infoseek, Webcrawler, Lycos and other engines. The advantage of a metasearch engine is that the user does not need to remember the specific search syntax for each and every engine he uses; all he needs to know is the syntax for the metasearch engine, and the metasearch engine automatically sends a correctly-formatted query to the others.

Hybrids: Many search engines also include their own directories; for example, Infoseek has its own directory of Web sites, indexed and catalogued into different categories. Such engines are called "hybrids" as they display the features of both spiders and directories.

Accurate search engines: The last type of engine, this one is yet to be found anywhere in cyberspace; and it seems that we will have to wait a few more years for it to evolve ;-)

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