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About Web Guides and Search Engines

If you're embarking on serious research using the internet, search engines are not necessarily the best place to start. Search engines do a pretty good job of finding relevant sites for your searches. But there is a large industry geared around fooling search engines. Very often you will come across many sites that seem to contain many of the keywords you are searching for but no information of real substance. Also there are frustrations of coming across web sites that seem to offer a lot of promise but seem to be permanently under construction with lots of dead links or links to a work in progress page.

The alternative to search engines are directory sites and web guides. Directory sites are general compilations of web sites that are human compiled. Web guides are more specialist compilations of web sites, they are also human compiled and usually offer some editorial notes about the sites being linked to.

The recent trend is for the large general Directory sites to be replaced by automated search engines. However, the human compiled and specialist nature of web guides makes them extremely useful. Since human web guide compilers can do a better job at filtering out useless sites than automated search engines, you are saved from this chore. The editorial information, in addition, can give you a better idea of what a web site has to offer.


A Selection of Web Guides

Awesome Lists
Site contains an excellent list of reference sites.

Contains links to over 2,500 search engines from around the world, these include the large general search engines and many specialist search engines.

Finder Seeker
A search engine of search engines. The search for search engines can be categorized by country and subject matter.

Infonation (UN)
A service provided by the UN for finding statistical information about it's member countries.
An extensive guide to the worlds media. Site has links to a wide variety of resources ranging from news wires and newspapers to economic think-tanks to strategic studies institutes to the official web pages of governments and international institutions like the World Bank, OECD, and the United Nations.

Internet Sleuth
A real no frills web site. It is a directory of search engines and also has a "database of databases" meaning you can search the databases of several sites' databases all from Internet sleuth without having to search these databases individually.

Librarians Index to the Internet
Sites contains a searchable directory of links to web resources. They say each resource is carefully reviewed (maybe several times) before being exhibited on their site - making it a top quality research tool.

Needle in a Cyberstack
Don't be fooled by the daft sounding title or the no-frills site design. This is a very impressive online research site. The homepage has links to reference sites as well as links to electronic journals, worldwide phone books etc. There are also tools like an FAQ finder, people finder and more.
A news site for researches that is regularly updated.
An international directory of search engines, grouped by country.

The Ready Reference Page
Ready Reference uses a subject index based on Dewey Decimal Classification, a numerical classification scheme for breaking down fields of knowledge. This is a good quality reference site compiled by the reference librarians of the Lakewood Public Library.

Pitsco's ask an expert
This site claims to connect you with hundreds of  real world experts ranging from astronauts to zookeeper's. Descriptions, links and e-mail addresses are provided about their experts.


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