Sometimes Google is not the best search engine to use – AltaVista has two valuable tools that Google lacks

Sometimes Google is not the best search engine to use – AltaVista has two valuable tools that Google lacks. The New York Times in “Fishing for Information? Try Better Bait,” (August 21, 2003) reports that AltaVista has a couple of tools that Google lacks. The first is truncation: As popular as Google is, it does not measure up when it comes to two other strategies beloved by expert information retrievers. One is truncation – the ability to chop off a word and put an asterisk in place of whatever was chopped, thereby searching for all variations of that word with one search query. To many experts, AltaVista wins at this game. Plug “fudg* brownie recipe” into the search box and you will find fudge brownies, fudgy brownies and fudge-nut brownie cake. AltaVista's second trick is proximity searching: [Y]ou can search for two words in close proximity, instead of simply on the same page or within the same phrase. AltaVista has this licked, using the NEAR command. Type in “substitution NEAR chocolate” or better yet, “substitut* NEAR chocolate” and you get advice on substituting bars of unsweetened chocolate with semi-sweet, or how to use chocolate substitutes like cocoa powder. Here's a little known tool that Google and some other search engines have: You can type an asterisk in place of… [Out-of-the-Box Lawyering]

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