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Searching the SOBRANS Website

This search engine (powered by siteLevel) is a stop-gap measure we are providing until we can write our own.

It is pretty fast, and the results show a context in which the search term appears, which I find helps me select the right result to check out.

You should be aware that when you get a list of search results, the page that shows up, despite its appearance, is not on the SOBRANS website. But a very cool feature is that the SOBRANS logo on the result pages is a hyperlink; if you click on it, you will be brought back to this page.

It is not without its shortcomings. Although it searches the entire site, including the departments maintained on this site — the Griffin Internet Syndicate columns, Joe’s Washington Watch columns, the Shakespeare Library, and The Hive — I find that it is more narrowly literal than the big search engines (e.g., Google). For example, although it will return plurals when a singular is used as the search term, it will not work the other way. So when I put in the word birthrates, I was taken to what may be the only column on the site in which Joe uses the word. If, however, I had only dimly remembered the column and wanted to find it by using the word birthrate, the only result that comes up is ... this page! So apparently it can’t recognize an entry as being part of a word that is actually used. And for the search term birth rates, Tom Bethell’s article on The Hive comes up, but it didn’t come up when I used birthrates. So if a search is unsuccessful you may have to use some imagination to find an elusive article.

Because this service is free to us, you will find that even though you select the “This Site” option in your search (as opposed to the “The Web” option), you will still get results that are not to be found on this site. They are entries that come from the sponsors of the service, who have presumably paid for links to their websites to be included in searches. Fortunately, these are clearly marked, and they always appear at the top of the list. And, for that matter, they are not at all obnoxious ads, but simple links. Users may even find that they are helpful.

While I am always happy to hear from our visitors, I particularly want to learn of your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with this search engine. First, if it’s not doing the job very well, I want to look for another one. Second, your comments will help us when it comes to designing our own search engine. So please write me with your comments.

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