Evaluation of Internet search tools instrument design

Saunders, Tana (2004-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigated Internet search tools / engines to identify desirable features that can be used as a benchmark or standard to evaluate web search engines. In the past, the Internet was thought of as a big spider's web, ultimately connecting all the bits of information. It has now become clear that this is not the case, and that the bow tie analogy is more accurate. This analogy suggests that there is a central core of well-connected pages, with links IN and OUT to other pages, tendrils and orphan pages. This emphasizes the importance of selecting a search tool that is well connected and linked to the central core. Searchers must take into account that not all search tools search the Invisible Web and this will reflect on the search tool selected. Not all information found on the Web and Internet is reliable, current and accurate, and Web information must be evaluated in terms of authority, currency, bias, purpose of the Web site, etc. Different kinds of search tools are available on the Internet, such as search engines, directories, library gateways, portals, intelligent agents, etc. These search tools were studied and explored. A new categorization for online search tools consisting of Intelligent Agents, Search Engines, Directories and Portals / Hubs is suggested. This categorization distinguishes the major differences between the 21 kinds of search tools studied. Search tools / engines consist of spiders, crawlers, robots, indexes and search tool software. These search tools can be further distinguished by their scope, internal or external searches and whether they search Web pages or Web sites. Most search tools operate within a relationship with other search tools, and they often share results, spiders and databases. This relationship is very dynamic. The major international search engines have identifiable search features. The features of Google, Yahoo, Lycos and Excite were studied in detail. Search engines search for information in different ways, and present their results differently. These characteristics are critical to the Recall/Precision ratio. A well-planned search strategy will improve the Precision/Recall ratio and consider the web-user capabilities and needs. Internet search tools/engines is not a panacea for all information needs, and have pros and cons. The Internet search tool evaluation instrument was developed based on desirable features of the major search tools, and is considered a benchmark or standard for Internet search tools. This instrument, applied to three South African search tools, provided insight into the capabilities of the local search tools compared to the benchmark suggested in this study. The study concludes that the local search engines compare favorably with the major ones, but not enough so to use them exclusively. Further research into this aspect is needed. Intelligent agents are likely to become more popular, but the only certainty in the future of Internet search tools is change, change, and change.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het Internetsoekinstrumente/-enjins ondersoek met die doel om gewenste eienskappe te identifiseer wat as 'n standaard kan dien om soekenjins te evalueer. In die verlede is die Internet gesien as 'n groot spinnerak, wat uiteindelik al die inligtingsdeeltjies verbind. Dit het egter nou duidelik geword dat dit glad nie die geval is nie, en dat die strikdas analogie meer akkuraat is. Hierdie analogie stel voor dat daar 'n sentrale kern van goed gekonnekteerde bladsye is, met skakels IN en UIT na ander bladsye, tentakels en weesbladsye. Dit beklemtoon die belangrikheid om die regte soekinstrument te kies, naamlik een wat goed gekonnekteer is, en geskakel is met die sentrale kern van dokumente. Soekers moet in gedagte hou dat nie alle soekenjins in die Onsigbare Web soek nie, en dit behoort weerspieël te word in die keuse van die soekinstrument. Nie alle inligting wat op die Web en Internet gevind word is betroubaar, op datum en akkuraat nie, en Web-inligting moet geëvalueer word in terme van outoriteit, tydigheid, vooroordeel, doel van die Webruimte, ens. Verskillende soorte soekinstrumente is op die Internet beskikbaar, soos soekenjins, gidse, biblioteekpoorte, portale, intelligente agente, ens. Hierdie soekinstrumente is bestudeer en verken. 'n Nuwe kategorisering vir aanlyn soekinstrumente bestaande uit Intelligente Agente, Soekinstrumente, Gidse en Portale/Middelpunte word voorgestel. Hierdie kategorisering onderskei die hoofverskille tussen die 21 soorte soekinstrumente wat bestudeer is. Soekinstrumente/-enjins bestaan uit spinnekoppe, kruipers, robotte, indekse en soekinstrument sagteware. Hierdie soekinstrumente kan verder onderskei word deur hulle omvang, interne of eksterne soektogte en of hulle op Webbladsye of Webruimtes soek. Die meeste soekinstrumente werk in verhouding met ander soekinstrumente, en hulle deel dikwels resultate, spinnekoppe en databasisse. Hierdie verhouding is baie dinamies. Die hoof internasionale soekenjins het soekeienskappe wat identifiseerbaar is. Die eienskappe van Google, Yahoo en Excite is in besonderhede bestudeer. Soekenjins soek op verskillende maniere na inligting, en lê hulle resultate verskillend voor. Hierdie karaktereienskappe is krities vir die Herwinning/Presisie verhouding. 'n Goedbeplande soekstrategie sal die Herwinning/Presisie verhouding verbeter. Internet soekinstrumente/-enjins is nie die wondermiddel vir alle inligtingsbehoeftes nie, en het voor- en nadele. Die Internet soekinstrument evalueringsmeganisme se ontwikkeling is gebaseer op gewenste eienskappe van die hoof soekinstrumente, en word beskou as 'n standaard vir Internet soekinstrumente. Hierdie instrument, toegepas op drie Suid-Afrikaanse soekenjins, het insae verskaf in die doeltreffendheid van die plaaslike soekinstrumente soos vergelyk met die standaard wat in hierdie studie voorgestel word. In die studie word tot die slotsom gekom dat die plaaslike soekenjins gunstig vergelyk met die hoof soekenjins, maar nie genoegsaam sodat hulle eksklusief gebruik kan word nie. Verdere navorsing oor hierdie aspek is nodig. Intelligente Agente sal waarskynlik meer gewild word, maar die enigste sekerheid vir die toekoms van Internet soekinstrumente is verandering, verandering en nogmaals verandering.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/49957
This item appears in the following collections: