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I just want to invite views on the reasons why you would choose one or the other component of the search market.
For example, my use
I use search engines where I dont exactly know what i am looking for,
I use search engines to find code samples,
I use search engines to find stories where I only have a small part of the story,
I use search engines for reading up on history,
I use search engines to find alternative articles to wiki
Increasingly, where I require an article that is clearly defined, i simple go straight to wikipedia, and I am thinking of geting a paid encyclopedia service too.
I always prefer directories where I am looking for a business firm, I.e. wholesalers, plumbers, estate agents, printers, manufacturers, etc etc, However, this usually means using paper or web versions of established yellowpages an other phone directories. web directories, I 've actually only discovered within the last 1 year.
So , ,,,
Wikipedia is great if you want a quick answer to a question, and it is either not necessariy that all details are true ("What was the climate like in israel again?"), or you can expect it to be common knowledge ("calculate the area of a curcle").
This boils down to a time thing. People don't want to spend large amounts of time, probably looking for basic stuff eg: Need a shop that stocks xyz, and will travel to purchase within the next few hours.
"Or I will be in the area that day, but need some quotes first - but chances are will purchase". Which suggests that the searchers already know what they want, and other criteria make the difference of a sale in shop A or shop D.
I use Search engines as a starting point, but once I find a better method of search, I make a note of it, and thus the search engine loses those searches in favour of the new search option/tool/engine forever.
So I choose resources that serve me better than Google or Ask can. Speed and accuracy is the key, and directories do this well, although not perfectly. Directories need to increase in size and offer more services to be considered a big threat to the search engines. But because of the 'instant' accuracy of them, means I find it tough to resist using them.
I used Yell.com the other day, and could have used Google - but knew Yell would be faster. That forced me to use Yell, even though I don't really like Yell.com, it was a better alternative for that particular search enquiry.
Yell wasn't superior, just better, er, faster I guess.
[edited by: Helpinghand at 10:24 am (utc) on June 23, 2007]
I think, though, it's worth considering who would want a reason to try different tools. Centime is a sophisticated, heavy web user -- and can't afford not to use the most efficient tool, even if it takes some time to figure out how and when to use it.
A very light user, not particularly sophisticated about information-theory, will likely settle on one tool, and simply live with not finding information which that tool can't find. (For most such unsophisticated users today, that means Google. But many light users, it's AOL search. And, of course, for the hardcore of incurably stupid folk, it's MSN Search.)
So let me ask this: what would you suggest to a light internet/Google user wanting to be more sophisticated? That is, what tool is most likely to work for some task, and (just as important) most likely to be the obvious tool to use for that task?
Wikipedia, when (last millenium) you'd have used an encyclopedia?
Ebay (or Froogle) when (last millenium) you'd have used the newspaper classified ads?
Yellowpages.com and whitepages.com when (last millenium) you'd have used the phone book?
For local searches there are now several local search engines although they still lack many websites since they are added manually to prevent spam.
Existing directories are often neglected and obsolete and ones still active are totally useless since single category can contain several hundred listings which can be only useful if you want to copy the content to create your own directory.
For instance, the only place on the web to buy used books is alibris.com. Amazon lists a smaller selection of used books, but they make up for it by having bigger prices. Ebay offers a MUCH smaller selection. Barnes and Noble is fine ... for the tiny fraction of books that are still in print. And even Google offers a much smaller and quite out-of-date selection. So the borderline-literate who's looking for a bestselling potboiler -- will get along fine with Google. Someone who knows what he's looking for, will have been exploring other options.
And, of course, what kind of queries you tend to get, will depend on whether you focus on offering a unique niche service to knowledgeable, informed consumers, or on flogging entertainment to impulse-spending couch potatoes.
So where to the KIC's go, and how do you teach an inexperienced but sentient creature to be a KIC?