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Web Searching Skills Recommendation

Gwen Harris, a searcher extraordinaire has taught the online course in web searching for many years at the Professional Learning Centre at the iSchool at the University of Toronto. Gwen is always up to the minute and knows her stuff.
As a treat for everyone she shares her Research tutorials in (WSG) which has recently been updated to reflect changes since March 2009.
Gwen notes that “2009 was a remarkable year. Microsoft really stirred things up in introducing Bing. Bing web search handles very nicely but it might be a bit of a stretch to call it a decision engine. It is good on consumer questions – health, travel, shopping – and may improve in other areas. Bing has a good orientation video to show how it can help with decisions. However, mostly we are thankful that Bing’s inventive display prodded Google to introduce Show Options with many more views – especially the Timeline and Wonderwheel. Yahoo didn’t just roll over and die in anticipation of the partnership in 2010 with Microsoft either. It finally found more ways to show off the Search Assist and has had web site developers enhancing the display of their search results. As well, Google and Bing beefed up image and video search.
WSG highlights all of this and more in new pages about the four main search engines: Ask, Bing, Google, and Yahoo, and about multimedia search. There are other search engines. We look at Cuil – much improved, great for identifying categories, and can be linked to Facebook – impressive results. There is also Kosmix, excellent at creating a dossier or profile page on a topic from the full range of Web resources. Of course, the story in 2009 was about Twitter and real-time search. We see how Google, Bing, and Yahoo handle this.
Other search engine updates concern metasearch engines – Web search is largely the same, but handles multimedia and real time search, and there are some search comparison engines that pit Google against Bing.
Subject directories continue to deteriorate. and have finally merged and formed Directories are not entirely dead., which aims to serve students and researchers, has a small set of recommended tools.
The WSG updates include some edits to the search engine comparison charts for the major engines, showing features and syntax constructions. Edits to these were minor for syntax, although some engines have new features. I removed Gigablast on the grounds that it is no longer competitive. You may want to print new copies of the charts or guides.
People who are somewhat new to web searching would get most value from working through the section on search syntax (, and the new pages on Ask, Bing, Google and Yahoo.”
Web Search Guide at
What’s New has a review of the main changes –
Comparison charts are at
Internet News blog at
The next Mastering Web Searching course starts February 8, 2010. This course is offered through Professional Learning Centre of the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto. People who complete this seven-week course will be masterful in web search strategies and tools. Students who have already taken this course are welcome to audit it for updates and a refresher. More information and registration is at
For people who are self-taught web searchers, this course from the PLC with the U of Toronto brand can serve as a good certified proof for your updated c.v. in these challenging times. I am sure that it is good value for money if you know you’re the type to need structure to move ahead in a planned way.
It’s online so your location is really inconsequential. Check it out wherever you are.

Posted on: January 4, 2010, 6:33 pm Category: Uncategorized

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