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One click from answer - How to find required information on the net, overview.

By Greg Keins
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004

This article briefly describes most popular places on the net where help, advise and answers on required questions can be found. Overview of Search engines, meta search engines, electronic libraries, forums, online help boards and more.

1. Search engines

Google.com, yahoo.com - they represent one of best known search engines. SEs holds huge databases, for example google currently have more than 3 milliards records, to be able to process this information quantities server farms are used with thousands of computers. Search results contain pages where lookup words were met. Every SE has its own algorithm on what pages best much search criteria but all of them have aim to show most relevant results for user. SE weighty advantage is that search industry leaders have their databases filled by milliards of records referencing existing web sites on the net, but they require from user to know most part of answer and some search experience to be able to type in correct keywords, otherwise as usually happens with novice users keywords may be really sensible for required lookup, turned out to be not that really used by most internet community in current field. As consequence search results are far from ideal, usually this are sites similar to looking-for but not that really useful. Only experience coming with time and hope on search engines will be more intellectual in future seems help. Another way is to spend more time on lookup and parse most of search results (more than first page of results) this will for sure move near to success. Also exists meta search engines (they don't have own databases but reuse and combine existing top search engines results together), they provide more optimized results and keep only most relative matches. Hear is list of most popular search and meta search engines:

Search engines by popularity:

(http://google.com)
(http://search.Yahoo.com)
(http://search.msn.com)
(http://excite.com)
(http://netscape.com)
(http://iwon.com)
(http://askjeewes.com)
(http://mywebsearch.com)
(http://altavista.com)
(http://dogpile.com)
(http://infospace.com)

Meta Search engines:

(http://ez2www.com)
(http://kartoo.com)
(http://surfwax.com)
(http://vivisimo.com)
(http://webcrawler.com)

2. Electronic libraries

Before internet era books was only considerable information resource available for public use. Library was that last authority where people feed knowledge and share their ideas and creative work with others. They still is but now internet gives excellent possibility to visit most popular world libraries not leaving your home from a single web page. Library online search tools gives you possibility to find required book almost at seconds and download to your PC for using. More and more libraries converting now their resources to digital format making life for millions of scientists, creative people and just readers as ease as they could not ever imagine before. Having required book on your desktop in digital format saves much time, standard search function available in any editor program will find required word or phrase almost immediately. Minimal requirements are any simple PC and internet connection.

Library of Congress - (http://lcweb.loc.gov/homepage/lchp.html)
U.S. National Library of Medicine - (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nlmhome.html)
The British Library - (http://www.bl.uk/index.shtml)
Free virtual library resource - (http://www.libraryspot.com)

3. Forum boards

This is for sure more humanized type of information conception. Any forum board divided into several subjects, where forum users can post questions. Any single question with follow up and answers called thread. Threads keep single post history. Person looking for help, posts message describing problem and usually within one day some body with god will helps. Most forums have possibility to turn on auto notification for new responses, posted by email. Once posted your issue in few or more forums, checking newly email messages will keep up to date with problem resolving. Good sign for forum is number of messages per day, more than 100 is acceptable, as more visitors will see your request as soon you will get required help.

Hear is few popular help forums:

(http://www.htmlforums.com)
(http://www.wordforums.com)
(http://www.suggestafix.com)

4. News groups

News groups is coming from that early times when internet was not worldwide available. They were available mostly through bulletin board systems and terminal connections. Now this is forum type help resource but advantage is there are a lot of news groups on many subjects and all messages archived since at least 1994 year. So there is pretty much chances that you will find already existed same problem with few possible solutions. There are lot of web interfaces for news groups, but most handy for me was Google:

(http://groups.google.com)

5. Online help boards

This is so called human 2 human service. Most major web portals support this type of service for its own needs, example is ebay auction. Any answers get resolved immediately via online chat by ebay support person. Only problem is that ebay and other portals works only with its registered users and support only their own issues. But publicly available similar services exists too. Online help is best possible service for present day, it reduces lookup efforts from hours or even days to minutes. One of such boards tested by me was webhelpboard.com. I met there good and prompt support.

Online help board - (http://webhelpboard.com)

6. Documentation

Every product, service or tool coming with user manual and documentation. This was always best and most smart way to get issues resolved but major problem is time required to get acquainted with often tens or even hundred manual pages. Not rare cases when person just missing so much time. Links to required documentation can be retrieved by typing yourpoduct.com url (ex: sony.com, ford.com etc.) and in majority of cases there are available required manuals and docs at original manufacturer web site, if not navigate to "Contact Us" form and send request for help.

Conclusion

From described above seen that guaranteed direction is original manuals and publications that usually foresee most common issues and pitfalls but it is for sure require enough free time. From the other side human 2 human services - online help chat boards is easiest and most time saving service existing today.

About the Author
Greg Keins, SEO expert, codersweb@linuxmail.org (free reprint article - thus far original content unchanged)