How to Search the Web
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Web directories are lists of hand-selected sites compiled by Web users and organized into categorical tree structures to help users locate sites with content that's relevant to their research. Web directories are very useful when you want to find sites related to a specific category.
- Web directories are browsable collections of links, assembled by humans and classified by subject.
- Web directories generally fall into two categories: scholarly (assembled, edited and annotated by experts and professionals) or commercial (rely on site traffic and advertising to operate).
- To find subject directories, simply add the term “directory” to your search query. This will lead you to a page of preselected sources on the topic you're searching.
- Each directory has a different focus, and you’ll need one that suits your individual needs. For instance, if you want to find sites on video game cheat codes, a commercial directory like the Open Directory Project or dmoz would be a good start. If you want access to sociology journals, try a scholarly directory such as ipl2.
- Because directories only contain the title, URL and sometimes a brief description of the sites listed and not a site’s full text, your searches within a directory will be most successful if you're more general than specific. Keep this in mind when forming your search terms: It may be best to begin with a broad topic to reduce the chances of eliminating valuable sites. For example, if you're looking for information on Picasso, start by searching for “modern art,” then explore the sites listed.
- Browse a directory only if it lacks a search function. If you’re browsing, you’ll need to guess which subject heading your topic would fall under at each layer. If at any point you follow an incorrect topic, you’ll miss the link that you're looking for.
- To ensure quality, ask yourself some questions: How are the links selected, and by what criteria are they judged? Are the links accompanied by descriptions? Are these descriptions written by directory staff or by Web site creators themselves? For answers to these questions, visit the "Web Site Credibility" section of this guide.
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