blog: News Search

News search

Introduction

Last class we learned about some of the major news search engines and how to find up-to-date information on the Web. For this blog I will share with you some of my thoughts about these new search engines after examining them and exploring their features.

General News Searches

First things first, I am a huge basketball fan. I watch NBA games routinely during the season and participate in multiple fantasy basketball leagues. Drafting the best players in preparation for the fantasy season is the single most important factor in winning the league. How do you

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draft the best players? The answer to this question is you must stay informed. What better way to do this then use the internet including news search engines? I used google news, yahoo news, and altavista news, to look for specific current and recent-past happenings related to the 2008-2009 NBA season that could help me win my fantasy basketball leagues.

Google News

The first news search engine I decided to use was Google News. My first impressions of Google News were that the site was very similar to Google's regular search engine, but with more apparent search customization tools. I entered [NBA season 2009] into the search engine as my first query. I was happy to see most of the results I got were at least related to basketball in some way. This wasn't good enough for me though. I had heard a lot of different news over the summer about how some NBA players had been traded, injured, agreed to surgery, etc. When things like this happen it can have a very big impact on fantasy basketball numbers and whether your team wins or loses. For this reason is important to stay up to date on all this information.

Although, I had heard most of the big news stories on TV throughout the summer, I didn't remember every thing big that had happened. I used Google news to refresh my memory. The first feature on Google News that I took advantage of was selecting the time period from which results were generated. Here, I wanted to see everything that happened in the off season so I asked Google News to only return articles that had been added to the site this off-season from May 1, 2008 up until now. Now after submitting my search I was getting all the kind of information that I wanted. I kept exploring Google News, however, to examine and try to take advantage of other features the site offered. I thought it was pretty cool how much customization you could do with one of the your searches through the site. Under the advanced search options tab I found quite a few ways to limit my search that I took advantage of. First off, I didn't want to get any results for sites or news that I had to pay for. I quickly checked the box that require all search results to be free pages. Next, I selected that all the search results be in English. Most the results I was getting were in English anyway, but this helped to refined my search even more. One more customization tool that I used in my search was making it so all my results came from some ESPN news page. In my experience with reading about sports on the Web, ESPN's site offers the best variety of in-depth coverage including big headlines and kind of side stories.

Now, with all components of my search in place, I went back to the main page and sent my query. The results page that I received was just what I was looking for. All the big summer deals, player moves, injuries, season previews, and like were listed right there for me to see. I was quickly reminded of major happenings like Ron Artest being traded to Houston, Jermaine O'neal getting shipped off to Toronto, Monta Ellis' and Manu Ginobili's sizeable injuries, Elton Brand moving to Philadelphia and other such things. All of this information is hugely important in fantasy basketball because it is all about the numbers and you must figure out how the numbers will be effected given these happenings. Overall, I was quite impressed by Google News as the offered a wide variety of search customization options and the results that I found were almost 100% relevant, covering almost all the big news items.

Yahoo News

The next new search engine that I moved to and began to explore was Yahoo News. I didn't have as good of a first impression with Yahoo News as I thought the site had a poorer layout and at first I had trouble finding things. I entered the same initial query for Yahoo News, [NBA season 2009], and took a look at the results. The default setting for results on Yahoo News I also thought was worse than for Google News. Google News listed news articles and including images alongside all of the results for better insight into what the article might be about. Yahoo News, on the other hand, just listed text description with one lone picture at the top of the screen. Not only is this lack of images boring, but it takes a lot longer for the user to get a sense of what all the articles are about. On Google News, I can identify with the images and pictures much faster than on Yahoo News where I have to read one to three full sentences to see what is going on. Although, the images don't always tell the whole story of what the news article is about, they still give me a rough idea that allows me to further explore results of my interest.

Moving on from my initial thoughts and query I looked into to customizing my search further as I did on Google News. I explored the advanced search options tab to find it very similar to Google News, but with a few differences. Yahoo News offered some of the same features as Google News like having the search engine only return English results, I was also able to limit my search to a single source like ESPN or something similar. Yahoo News also offered the option of choosing to get results from a certain time period. Since I was still looking for NBA off-season happenings that might effect this coming season I tried to get results from last May until the current period. I could not do this on Yahoo News however. Yahoo News limited me to only going back two months in the past for finding relevant news articles. This aspect of Yahoo News makes it far inferior to Google News because the majority of the news events I was hoping to find occurred early in the summer. Yahoo News

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did not provide me access to these results. Another difference I found between Yahoo News and Google News was that Yahoo News didn't allow me the option of choosing free Web pages. Although, pretty much all of the results I got from Yahoo were linked to free pages, I would guess that this is not always the case for other searches.

Yahoo News did offer one option in its advanced search menu that Google did not however. This option involved selecting categories, kind of directory-like, in which only results pertaining to that category would be returned. I liked how they offered this additional option (the more options the better), but I'm not really sure how useful it would be overall for defining searches. Often times people have trouble identifying what category they think they should look at. In comparing Google News with Yahoo News I see some definite advantages and an overall better experience with Google News.

AltaVista News

I must admit my expectations for AltaVista News were low even before exploring their search engine and its features. Right away when getting to the news search engine's site I found the interface to be less attractive than Yahoo News or Google News. I entered my initial query, [NBA season 2009], just as I had done for the two previous search engines. I was actually happy with the relevancy of results that I received from this first search as the results page contained links to the all the major recent stories. One of the first things I noticed, however, was that there were no images or pictures on the results page. This was even worse that Yahoo, who had just one image. I'm not sure why this is, but Yahoo News, Google News, and AltaVista News all differed in the amount of images they displayed relating to my search results. Google seemed to put in as many images as they could, Yahoo tried to use images, but didn't have many, and AltaVista didn't even try to incorporate images into its results at all. Following these first thoughts, I attempted to create a more detailed new search through AltaVista News.

It wasn't long before I realized AltaVista News offered a lot less search customization options and tools compared to Google News and Yahoo News. Altavista News doesn't even have another menu page for these advanced search options. The only tools offered for customizing searches can be found at the top of the page. The three categories in which you can limit your search in hopes of finding more relevant results are searching my category, searching by region, and searching by date or time period. With the exception of Google excluding categories, both the other news search engines offered all of these advanced search options in addition to many others. I would highly recommend the creators of AltaVista news to add some pictures or at least something interesting to their site because in its current form its very boring with nearly all text.

Summary

Overall, I think after exploring the three major news search engines; Yahoo News, Google News, and AltaVista News, its pretty apparent what the best overall news search engine is. I am giving this award to Google News because of their easy user interface, attractive page features, and because they offer far superior tools for customizing searches and obtaining the most relevant results. Yahoo News is slightly behind receiving my vote for second best. As far as AltaVista News goes, I really was not happy at all with this site and I don't see myself using it much if at all in the future.

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