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middlespot.com - "An interface for search"
Awful slogan ... but what about the engine?
Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 9:47 am on Mar 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know anything about this?

At first glance, it's a 'me-too' gimmick engine with screen shots, a toolbar and the like, but the serps aren't bad (?origin), and some of the search features do look interesting.

Seems to be a company called Black Fin Software from Sliema, Malta - I never heard of them - Really!

Any info or views?

 

scottjbrownlee

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 10:08 pm on Mar 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi, I thought I'd quickly introduce myself. I'm Scott and I'm one of the developers at middlespot.com. Middlespot is a bit of an experiment we've been doing in our spare time, trying out new ways to visualize data (in this case search results). We're applying the concept of a cartesian plane to the mapping of data in specific coordinates, so you can zoom in and out and pan across your results. Once we map the asset onto the infinite plane, we can then apply a number of various UIs to view the data.

We use live API and YahooBOSS API to source results as well as Amazon and Twitter.

We're going to be implementing some interesting new features in the next couple of weeks, hopefully you'll want to check it out again.

Don't hesitate to ask any more questions about us either.

Scott Brownlee

Status_203

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 3:19 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Given that you can resize the thumbnails to such an extent that you can frequently read the page without having to click through to the site I'd say you're going to have quite a few webmasters looking to block you (or your sources)

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 6:10 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

When the screen shots can scale up and are readable it exceeds fair use IMO, it's a blatant copy replacing the page, not indexing the page.

They appear to be making screen shots via compute-1.amazonaws.com

75.101.162.nnn - - [24/Mar/2009:11:00:57 -0700] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 1281 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.5; Linux) KHTML/3.5.9 (like Gecko)"

OrgName: Amazon.com, Inc.
NetRange: 75.101.128.0 - 75.101.255.255
CIDR: 75.101.128.0/17

There are more IPs for Amazon, but this is where their screen shot tool appeared to me.

Now you can easily protect your copyright by serving up a "special screenshot page" just to their screen shot tool instead of your actual content.

scottjbrownlee

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 9:01 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Apologies, I didn't realize what we were doing would be considered as a negative by a web master. Would this opinion be held the same for viewzi and searchme?

If we provided a way to put up a special screenshot for your site, would that be preferrable? We have done a lot of research on this and found that anyone who begins actually reading a site via a screenshot is much, much more likely to actually click through to that site than just reading a text snippet. Plus, we don't actually capture the entire page, so if they want to read all of the content, then they definitely need to click all the way thru.

But we definitely want to respect webmasters and their sites integrity.

thanks for the opinions.
Scott

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 10:07 pm on Mar 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

We have done a lot of research on this and found that anyone who begins actually reading a site via a screenshot is much, much more likely to actually click through to that site than just reading a text snippet.

Your screen shots are much more than snippets and if I see what I need in your screen shot there is no need to click through whatsoever.

Would this opinion be held the same for viewzi and searchme?

I've been blocking or returning screen shot pages just for those 2 for quite some time already.

Same thing with Snap and their screenshots as I can't afford allowing some search engine to crawl and then return to make a screen shot, especially when most of them trash the images per screen shot and do a fresh download of everything, css, javascript, images and HTML on a per page basis.

Add up 200K+ pages plus all files per page and multiply that across everyone wanted screenshots of each page and my 2500GB of monthly bandwidth goes >POOF!< without real visitors ever hitting the server.

No thanks.

[edited by: incrediBILL at 10:07 pm (utc) on Mar. 24, 2009]

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 6:42 am on Mar 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

...I didn't realize what we were doing would be considered as a negative by a web master.

Scott - Welcome to WebmasterWorld. I suggest taking a look at this discussion about SearchMe. A lot of us liked the interface, but the overwhelming sentiment was that the "thumbnails" went beyond fair use. I've got to agree that with the zoom feature, middlespot also crosses the line. I think it's worth your while to read the full discussion, which gets very noisy and contentious in places...

SearchMe is pretty cool
[webmasterworld.com...]

scottjbrownlee

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 3:17 am on Mar 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks, I had a good read through the searchme issues that were brought up. A couple of quick questions and possible solutions.

What size of thumbnail image would be acceptable to most of you? 160x120? 360x240?

If we provided a line to insert into your robots.txt that told our screen capture software what size you will only allow to be captured (including no capture at all or a specific image you would prefer we served up - almost like an advertisement), then would that be acceptable? In middlespot.com, the user would still be able to zoom in on the screenshot, but it would be too blurry to read.

A quick response to IncrediBILL, we aren't actually a search engine, we use the Yahoo API for our results. We only request a screenshot based on the results returned from Yahoo, so we are never crawling your servers and demanding every single page. We only grab a screenshot of the specific result link in the results list at the time of the users query.

Your feedback is extremely appreciated,
Scott

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 5:40 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

What size of thumbnail image would be acceptable to most of you? 160x120? 360x240?

Scott - I'm not sure what you mean by "thumbnail." Are you referring to the size of the tiled images (which appear to be about 185px wide), or are you referring to the default size of the image that comes up when it's either moused over or selected from the serps list on the left?

The default for that image, at least on my system, is roughly 490wx370h. Not only can I easily read all paragraph text in that image, for most of my sites, but I can also zoom the image so large that I can make sections in fact much larger than they appear if you visit the actual site. Admittedly, there's some resolution loss, but that's not the point. The issue is whether this is costing us traffic.

For those who are publishers and live and die by ad impressions, this is a key issue... and I don't think that anything except keeping the thumbnail very small and removing the zoom feature is going to satisfy them. Since the zoom is your main feature, there's likely to be something of an impasse when it comes to talking about disabling it.

scottjbrownlee

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 8:45 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks Robert,

Sorry, I mean by "thumbnail" the screenshot that is captured of your page. If you screenshot could only be 160x120 in resolution, would that be more satisfactory. We would still allow a user to zoom in and enlarge the screenshot, but it would maintain its 160x120 resolution, therefore when zoomed, it would become extremely blurry and fuzzy. Is it reasonable to request that the webmaster put a line in their robots.txt file that our capture technology could look at and determine if only a 160x120 image can be rendered?

thanks for the feedback.

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 10:10 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Is it reasonable to request that the webmaster put a line in their robots.txt file that our capture technology could look at and determine if only a 160x120 image can be rendered?

No, that's not a reasonable request, because it would mean that cannibalistic behaviour is your default and you only behave nicely if asked.

It would be a lot more respectful of other people's content to come at this from the other direction. Make a very, very low resolution be the default for any screenshots, then invite webmasters to allow a more detailed view if they wished.

scottjbrownlee

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 10:36 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks buckworks,

trying to get my head around this issue as we want to make sure we respect the wishes of webmasters. I was hoping this would be a reasonable method as it would fit in with traditional search engine behaviour. A search engine will scour your site unless you have provided it with instructions in your robots.txt file. I was thinking it would be a much easier process to follow that well trodden path as less experienced webmasters would have a much easier time using an existing methodology for managing search and index technology. It seems that the current methodology of all search engines is an "opt-out" model.

Do you have any suggestions of other options, other than the opt-in model as you've suggested above?

Again, thanks for the input.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 11:42 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

traditional search engine behaviour

Just because it's traditional doesn't mean we like it and many are resisting.

Check out [noarchive.net...] with lots of links back to articles on WebmasterWorld to get a feel for how some people feel about tradition search engine behavior.

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3867857 posted 12:28 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

traditional search engine behaviour. A search engine will scour your site unless you have provided it with instructions in your robots.txt file.

Up to a point. "traditional search engine"s may 'scour your site' - but they do not dipslay more than a page title and a faitrly short text description. What you are doing is far from traditional - that's why you are doing it, isn't it? So that people will adopt it as 'kewl' (dread term!).

But what is a marketing gimmick for you is essentially damaging for webmasters, as well as being potentially in breech of copyright law.

If the zoom feature works, it may deny sites their visitors; if it doesn't, it's just another gimmick.

I'd advise a serious rethink.

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