The Virtues of MetaCrawler

I cannot stand Dogpile. I just cannot. I used it once and won't go back.

Don't get me wrong. I did get results. But it just felt wrong. And maybe that one result was supposed to be Dogpile's token contribution to my life.

Maybe I was just supposed to say I did use Dogpile. To be fashionable. To go along with the crowd.

Every Nethead I know seems to be raving about it.

But Dogpile can just stay in the kennel. I've gone back to MetaCrawler. And barring serious other technological development that I like and feel comfortable with, there I am staying.

I have rooted around on the Net along enough.

Some people have their security blankets. I have MetaCrawler.

Don't mess with me. I like my MetaCrawler.

It's a habit. It is a good one. It gets this site done in record time and with record depth.

It doesn't mess with me. I don't mess with it.

And it loads so doggone fast...I love it!

I could sing the praises of MetaCrawler for quite some time. Been there, done that. Want my MetaCrawler.

I am by this time just about a professional webmistress, considering the time I routinely put into this site.

I will mess with nothing that does not give me what I want, make it convenient, and make me feel like I have honored the Net.

I started out with HotBot. It felt good. It was a cute green. And it provided all these links for good research....

But the day I had to sit there and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait for HotBot to boot up all those damn graphics...I'm not here for a show, I decided. I'm here to get information.

And on that day, HotBot was replaced as the official search standard for this site.

MetaCrawler loads so quick it's ridiculous. It is a commercial site. It really deserves to have its little "sell thingys." But it keeps them relatively discreet and doesn't get in my way.

You get used to ads loading. It's a part of the Net now. But MetaCrawler does not intrude on me. I am aware that I am getting a service. I should pay for it in some fashion, if only having those ads flashed in front of my eyes.

And don't talk to me about Yahoo!. I cannot stand Yahoo!. I really, truly cannot. It is the clunkiest search service known to man.

(So I'm a woman. I can talk too.)

What it reminds me of is nothing so much as one of those damn high school sororities they had where I came from. If you were good enough, you got admitted and got to wear these damn letter sweatshirts to school and stick your nose up in the air. Quite often, from what I observed, there was a distinct financial and social difference, even 20 years on in life, from being initiated to one of these sororities (Buncombe County, I assume they're still flaunting those damn, what did we call them, "yellowjacket" or "bumblebee" colors? That tell you which one I mean?) Right then and there, the moment I observed that certain members of this sorority were treated much differently by the general populace of this town, including getting accounts and things, just by having their name on that damn membership list from the "sock hop and poodle skirt" days, was the day I decided not to enroll in one. I could do my own social connecting myself. (And with all the pun possibilities of those Greek letters, y'all choose to wear them in public...still?)

Will somebody make it clear to me whether Yahoo! is an awards site or a search service? Feels to me more like a snotty awards site. Apply and we'll see if we'll take you. If you're cool and mainstream enough for us. That is precisely the message I get. I snapped my site up on them as a matter of course when I first had it up, but I don't fool with the search engines any longer. Partially because of the bad feeling I got from Yahoo!.

I am well aware that Yahoo! is one of the main information sources on the Net. I have seen many, many people think that the only way you get access to the Net is by typing in and looking there, and if it isn't there, it literally is not on the Net. That is how one of my friends tried to find my site URL: "Don't write it down for me. It's on Yahoo!, isn't it?"

Ladies and gentlemen, the world does not begin at, despite the fact that they try to make you believe it does. Just like the world does not begin at or I put them all in the same class.

Enough said.

I kept Yahoo! on this 50 Best page for a while because of its massive information-retrieval capabilities, despite the fact that I can't stand it.

I took it off for reasons of concscience. The Net belongs to everybody. Not to Yahoo!.

No fucking way do you own this computer, this site, or anything. If I could pull my listing, I would.

I'm that mad.

But I have no problem whatsoever with the fact that MetaCrawler accesses Yahoo!, along with five other major search engines, to gain its information. That is a valid use of the data base that is Yahoo! and thoroughly appropriate. I like this. Balance it out with the thoroughly randomized entries of some of the other engines, and you've got a decent search service. I like this. We're playing fair. And with the names listed on MetaCrawler, any decent webmaster who is trying to get their site out there will probably list with at least one before they are done, if they are using search engines at all.

If they are using search engines at all. Key phrase there.

A lot of the best sites don't even bother. They figure their clients will yell loud enough if they're good so they won't worry about it. They worry about getting listings on a few of the major sites in their subject area, and perhaps several of the minor sites that nonetheless can bring in some clientele. Who, if they are good enough, will promote them all by themselves. That's what I do now. I am completely ignoring several of the major subject-oriented databases in fields that I am familiar with and trusting that I am now out there enough, and well-used enough, that people will find me if they want to. I know I'm not the only one slapping up links out there if I find a good site. I don't believe in "I'll link to you if you'll link to me." You most likely are not good enough. Which is why I never ask, just if I run into a site that I think might honestly be interested in seeing my stuff (whether they link to it or not), I send the URL and a description of why I thought to. I never ask for a link. If they want to, they will. And enough serious "William webmistresses" who catch on that you've got a well-written site that is something different from the "picture-gallery pub crawl" that the under-18 royalist Net has turned into are willing to slap up a link just for the hell of it that I'm not worried. That's my main audience, in some ways. The young ones. They'll find me when they want to. And they trust their own.

There are sites out there that you might not find on the search engines. What I do is start with the highest-probability listings on MetaCrawler (and when it's a 1000 or 900-something rated site, I go for it unless something in the wording tells me not to) and check the sites out. Very often those 1000 sites are the exact major databases I need. Link goes up. Or I can dive into their links, or the links of the pages they're linked to, and see what I find. It takes time to tease the quality stuff out. But you find it. Often it's maybe a little phrase in a description, an intriguing-sounding site name, or just a gut feeling -- I really don't know why I might have clicked on that site instead of another, except that down the road maybe five or six sites sits the one I was looking for. Perfect for my audience. Deep. Lots of material. And lots and lots and lots of relevant links. I love it! Loads fast, entertains my audience, and we're happy.

Or I may not like the 1000/900 sites that time and wind up cruising through either the first page of Metacrawler listings or perhaps down to the second or third page (only so much is retrieved). I've gotten so I can spot the sites I'm looking for. Relevancy, interestingness, and that certain spark that screams "good site" even from the limited MetaCrawler listing. Or I may have to enter a couple more search headings, fool with it some, or just keep cruising. Sites will reveal themselves if they want to. I am convinced of that. When they are ready. In one specific instance, I had to wait days and then, bump, ran into the exact site I was looking for. I knew it was out there. I'd spent several hours looking once or twice. My friend's name was on it. I wanted to see this. I had lost contact with my friend some time ago. Boom. There it was.

The Net will do that for you. It honestly feels to me like the Net is a living entity.

Be nice to it and it will be nice to you.