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Yahoo! Launches Pay-Per-Search 338

vasah20 writes: " has this article saying that Yahoo is starting a pay-per-search service for 'premium documents,' in attempt to offset some of its revenue losses. Maybe it's just me, but if people can already find the most relevant results on Google, what are the chances anyone's gonna use this service?"
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Yahoo! Launches Pay-Per-Search

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  • by jonr ( 1130 )
    I'm just wondering....

    • by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:39PM (#2888508) Homepage Journal
      Of course it will be ad free. Let's look at television and movies. When you watch regular, broadcast television the only way the broadcasters can recoup the cost is by running ads, much like Yahoo! does. But along comes cable TV and now we're paying to watch television. We all know there aren't any ads on cable TV, if there were people would complain loudly about paying twice and either the ads would cease or people would cancel their cable.

      Similarly we are charged admission to go to the movies. Imagine if we had to sit through ads for snacks from the lobbies or upcomming movies, let alone dotcom and Mountain Dew ads, after plunking down $8.00 for a ticket to see the movie! What sane man wouldn't demand a refund from the manager and say "Good day" to that theater?

      So of course Yahoo! will recognize that their subscription fees pay for the service and remove the ads. I shudder to think what kind of company would put profits ahead of their customers' experience.
  • Where (Score:5, Funny)

    by Score0, Overrated ( 550447 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:44AM (#2888079) Homepage

    Where on Yahoo is their pay-per-search? I can't find it. I will pay for this information.
    • Re:Where (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:49AM (#2888135)
      Try searching for it here []!
    • Re:Where (Score:2, Informative)

      by mjstrom ( 244211 )
      It appears to be here
    • ... to read the article, I'll post this reply to this highly overrated lame attempt at a joke. The article says:

      According to the site, Yahoo plans to charge consumers between $1 and $4 to retrieve files from a specialized database of some 25 million research documents culled from 7,100 publications, including academic periodicals. Yahoo also expects to offer a "Premium Discount Search" option of 50 documents a month for $4.95.

      So it's like Lexis/Nexis.
      • Oh... that's not too bad compared to what the submision claimed. I was worried it would be something like salon [] with it's premium content.

        Me: Wow this is a really good article... *scrolls down* Did you like this article? Read the rest of it after a subscription...
        Me: Nooooooooooooooo! *pulls hair out*

        Not that I have anything against subscription services, but I admit I got used to alot of stuff being free.

        On the other hand, if you want research documents, try out NEC's Research Index []. It's really quite good, I met one of the guys who put it together and talked about the theory behind it. Plus, I got a couple papers in the database.

  • According to the site, Yahoo plans to charge consumers between $1 and $4 to retrieve files from a specialized database of some 25 million research documents culled from 7,100 publications (...)
    • I'm wondering if those publications are freely available from the internet? I think paying a couple of bucks and in return having 7'100 publications ready for searching/reading would be a great thing. If only they published a list of which publications they are going to make available ...
  • Yahoo's screwed. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by InterruptDescriptorT ( 531083 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:46AM (#2888102) Homepage
    Sorry, Yahoo. It's already been established that people won't pay for information, even when it's stuff they can't get anywhere else. Look at Salon [], for example, whose subscription-based service has been a momumental disaster.

    I suspect a lot of people will say that Google is the better search engine anyway, and though I agree, don't count out the sway of Yahoo's excellent categorization. However, I'm pretty sure that something will come along (maybe Vivissimo [] (check my spelling on that)) that will supplant's Yahoo's tried-and-true categories.

    This just doesn't bode well for Yahoo. I hope they are able to stay afloat. They're still among the top ten sites for hits on the Web for sure.
    • by sphealey ( 2855 )
      Sorry, Yahoo. It's already been established that people won't pay for information, even when it's stuff they can't get anywhere else.
      Last time I checked, Lexis/Nexus was still doing pretty well.


    • Sorry, Yahoo. It's already been established that people won't pay for information, even when it's stuff they can't get anywhere else. Look at Salon [], for example, whose subscription-based service has been a momumental disaster.

      I assume you mean 'on the Internet' since it's pretty obvious people will pay for information generally, as the inside of any book shop will make clear.

      However, there are plenty of web sites where people will pay for content, it's just often very specialist content. Clinical Evidence [] is one such site that I'm vaguely connected with.

      I know people such as sailors and event organisers will pay for detailed weather forecasts online.

      There are a load of niche markets where this works. But no-one gets to be a billionaire in a niche market, so no-one is too interested.

    • by sterno ( 16320 )
      A few examples of companies that have been doing quite well selling information:

      -Time Magazine
      -The Wall Street Journal

      People have been paying for information for a long time and they will continue to do so. To judge the validity of such schemes based on the success and failure of a bunch of dot com's doesn't really account for the true nature of this market.

      What we've really seen in the world of internet information is a failure of ad based revenue models. Everybody believed they could give everything away for free but then make money on advertising. But there were so many outlets for advertising and the audiences were so dispersed that these models quickly fizzled out. Those sites that coninute to post worthwhile content will continue to see ad revenue and will be able to establish subscriber bases over the long term.

      Personally I pay for a salon subscription because I like the content and consider it worth the money to keep them in business. Also, can you explain to my why you believe Salon's subscription service is a disaster? Last time I checked they were still in business.
    • However, I'm pretty sure that something will come along (maybe Vivissimo [] (check my spelling on that)) that will supplant's Yahoo's tried-and-true categories.

      Your spelling blows. ;-) It's "Vivisimo."

      It's pretty cool, too. Just for fun I typed in "infinite reality" (without quotes) to see how it handled that.

      Here are the categories it gave me:

      Idea, Help
      Book, Channel
      Biography, Theology

      Not too bad. Google's search was better; the "I feel lucky" button took me right to SGI's Onyx2 page. But the way vivisimo parsed the input and assigned categories was pretty cool.
  • by jmerelo ( 216716 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:46AM (#2888103) Homepage Journal
    but paying-for-retrieving-premium documents returned in a search. They are licensing NorthernLight, which already had that feature.

    Not too bad, if you can afford it. It's better to see your search service return non-free documents, so that at least you know they exist, that not returning them at all.

    What will happen to google, then? Yahoo already dumped altavista as search engine, then, I seem to remember, hotbot, and now Google? Will they be loosing this source of revenue?
    • Don't forget that yahoo started doing a pay-for-placement in the listing (mentioned in the article). Given that. Yahoo wants to charge people searching for the given criteria to see the result. That translates to the results you paid for will show who has paid us the most to be seen by you.
    • paying-for-retrieving-premium documents returned in a search

      Precisely. Think of this more as Lexis-Nexis for the rest of us instead of pay-for-google.

      I would guess they'll continue to use google to search the free part of the web.
  • Ummm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hobobo ( 231526 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:46AM (#2888109)
    Here are your options:

    1. Use Northern Light
    2. Use Yahoo! and pay more than Northern Light for the same service.

  • from []?

    I don't think Yahoo's going to reap any profits from this venture. After checking (haven't been there in a while) it looks like "pay for search" didn't turn out to be a very lucrative business model for NL.

  • Remuneration...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Glove d'OJ ( 227281 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:47AM (#2888115) Homepage
    As a content generator, will *I* get a share of the $1-$4 that they will charge? Will I even be notified that my document will be considered as "premium?" This can lead to some pretty sticky legal issues, i.e., someone collecting $ for access to work posted for free.

    Are their any law-officianada that are familiar with the potential copyright issues involved?

    This smacks of the old AOL model, where part of the benefit of going through them as an ISP is access to their exclusive content. I doubt that yahoo has the presence to generate a "sub-internet" of exclusive documents available only for pay.

    What ever are/were they thinking!
    • by Washizu ( 220337 )
      If you buy a map of the city, the restaurants and businesses you spend money at don't get a cut of the money you spent on the map and neither do any of the free attractions like the Lincoln Memorial in DC.
      • just b/c someone else has done research for money does that mean that you are going to get a piece of that money? Does it matter if your seemingly insignificant document seems to be important to someone else?
      • Yes, but I would be peeved if yahoo was making money off of my site when I was not. Easy to fix though, deny access to hits with a referrer of yahoo. People who paid for the service would be pretty ticked to click on a link and have a page show up that says "you were just ripped off" follow this link to access the content, hits directly from yahoo are denied automatically".
      • If you buy a map of the city, the restaurants and businesses you spend money at don't get a cut of the money you spent on the map

        No, but then again those restaurants and businesses didn't create the map. If however, a restaurant discovered that a document it created was being copied and re-sold by a third party vendor, then their might be room for legal action.

    • Since the content under discussion seems to be the academic journals and other specialised data sources that Northern Light also have been offering searches of for a while, I doubt it's your content. It seems to be more in competion with things like Lexis.
    • This can lead to some pretty sticky legal issues, i.e., someone collecting $ for access to work posted for free.

      I don't consider the issues "sticky," myself. Either the work is in the public domain, or it isn't. If it is, they can charge for access. If it isn't, they don't have legal authority to even distribute the article, so the question is academic.

      I suspect that this service is charging for access to things that often aren't on the net at all: like complete research papers and so forth. As long as it's all on the up and up, I wouldn't mind that.

  • Google making money? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:47AM (#2888120) Homepage Journal

    Maybe it's just me, but if people can already find the most relevant results on Google, what are the chances anyone's gonna use this service?

    Has google shown a profit yet? The thousands of CPUs, disks, and massive bandwidth have to be paid for by someone.
    • from []

      Google is a privately held and profitable company focused on search services. Named for the mathematical term "googol", Google operates a web site at that is widely recognized as the "World's Best Search Engine" and is fast, accurate and easy to use. The company also serves corporate clients with cost-effective advertising targeted by keyword and with breakthrough search technology that makes it easy for visitors to find the information they need, whether on a client s web site or elsewhere on the Internet....
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      I went from astavista -> yahoo -> google... as long as there's at least one half-assed search engine out there, I live with it. Google is extremely clean, in fact it's a luxury. But if I had to live with one full of banners and pop-up (-down) ads, I would too (Or well, my junkbuster would have to live with them :}). And if hell froze over and there really weren't any good engines left, I'd want to pay for something like google. But if Google started taking subscriptions or micropayments or whatever today, no way. I don't see their costs rising either, rather going down as everything gets cheaper, and the net isn't getting *that* much bigger, at least not in the terms of searchable text, but rather of P2P programs and huge program files (demos, trial versions, trailers, warez, appz, mp3s, divx etc.)

    • Google is profitable (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wee ( 17189 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:04PM (#2888650)
      Has google shown a profit yet?

      Actually, my new copy of Linux Journal [] came in the mail today. Doc Searls interviews Google's Director of Marketing in one of his columns. In it, he asks if Google makes money, and she says that they are in fact profitable. She goes on to say that their revenue is split 50/50 from ad sales and technology licensing (like with Yahoo and such). She said that have 130-odd customers for their search technology, and European and Asian sales offices opening soon. Customers pay for the bandwidth and servers. Actual customers who buy an actual product. A novel business model, wouldn't you say?

      Anyway, since she was interviewed before the magazine went to press, I'd be comfortable in saying that Google has been profitable for at least 45 days.


      • Actual customers who buy an actual product. A novel business model, wouldn't you say?
        I guess that's what distinguishes those Stanford startups from the I-know-a-little-bit-about-computers-and-want-to-ju mp-on-the-bandwagon startups... ;-)
  • by 2Flower ( 216318 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:49AM (#2888132) Homepage

    That's the creedo I used whenever I explained things to my internet-newbie friends and family a few years ago. If it exists online, it exists in a free format and you shouldn't pay for it. Video game news? Plenty of fan sites. Web hosting? If you're just putting up photos of your dog there are free hosting sites. And now, search...

    My concern is this: Is there going to be a time when it WON'T be available for free? Already free resources are buckling under the weight of their hosting fees and the popularity that drives their bandwidth through the roof. Free sites are no longer considered totally stable. Some have corporate allies -- IMDB, for instance. Some just buckle.

    Whether the answer is subscriptions or micropayments or allies or whatever, the question is what will free sites do in order to stay afloat? Or will the future of the internet have a few stable commercial services and lots of hobby sites that yo-yo in and out of existence?

    • Excellent post! To take it one step further, how much is all the free information worth to you? Some would argue that they already pay for the content of the internet when they pony up fees for their connection or ISP. So should the answer be that a portion of our monthly connection fees pay for services like Yahoo and /.? Personally, I feel like if the service is worth it, I want to support it the best I can. 9 times out of 10 that means forking over a little cash.
    • Web hosting? If you're just putting up photos of your dog there are free hosting sites.

      That depends on what your dog is doing in those pictures. I'm sure certain things would violate the TOSes of certain providers. =]
    • P2P? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sterno ( 16320 )
      One thing that's been rolling around in my brain for a while is the notion of using P2P to provide content for the net without the issues associated with centralized servers. The slashdot effect is evidence of what's wrong with the current model of distribution. If all of that content could be picked up from some more local resource rather than having to go to a central server, you'd solve a lot of problems (system bandwidth, hosting costs, etc).
  • Academic papers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by marcovje ( 205102 )

    Seem to target research/academic papers mainly.

    I can see one or two advantages:
    - no static. Only the research papers are searched.
    - Could make a strong negotiating position to get access (and retrieve via the portal) from archives not connected to the internet

    However the article doesn't actually name things like that
  • by Uttles ( 324447 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <selttu>> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:50AM (#2888148) Homepage Journal
    Millions of people use Yahoo! every day for every possible thing you can imagine. If there was some way to poll browser configurations and see what the default start page was, I'm sure the majority would be Yahoo, followed closely by MSN (the default for IE) and then Netscape. I'm not talking about slashdot readers or other technical types, I mean every day people. An average person can seemingly do anything they'd ever need to do online without ever leaving Yahoo!, and it's almost all free. Free games, auctions, email, yellow pages, city guides, etc. Now, power users or even just slightly better than average users may not ever go to Yahoo, or if they do they branch off of it and go other places, but they realize that there's a LOT more to the internet than just Yahoo!. These people will never use the premium search feature. In my opinion, it's the millions of dedicated "internet=yahoo" people out there who logon to and check their email along with their local headlines and weather... they will be the ones who see the banner for "premium yahoo searches" and say to themselves "hey, it's yahoo, it's premium, it's got to be worth it." I think Yahoo stands to make a great deal of money off of this. I just hope they don't do anything underhanded like reduce the quality of their normal searches or leave off certain results like, say, from a search of "indexing web sites."
    • Well, I've used my yahoo for years, and I program for a living. It's great, completely customizable home page. I have saved news clippers, follow my sports teams, look at the weather, plus I have saved locations so I can quickly say "what is the closest book store to my office?". Also, I can check movie times (theaters I pick of course), TV schedules), be reminded of birthdays etc... It's really very nice.
    • Here [] is a report substantiating your claim that Yahoo! is the leading web portal. (It was posted as a link on a /. story [] about two months ago)
    • I use yahoo to read my mail, keep track of my bookmarks, and get the my main headlines. I'm a pretty technical guy, program/web design for a living. I think they have a great service. My biggest gripe is that they are very IE specific in many of their offerings. Their Yahoo companion toolbar is great, but not yet available on NS6/Mozilla. I'm slowly working on some homegrown versions of their serivces in case they start charging me for them, but there is a lot of good stuff on Yahoo.
  • Ya Who? (Score:4, Funny)

    by the_rev_matt ( 239420 ) <slashbot&revmatt,com> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:52AM (#2888164) Homepage
    I didn't realize they still offered a search. I thought they were just chat/auction/shopping/clubs/groups/money/travel/ne ws/sports/weather/calendar/briefcase/messaging/mai l/games. Oh look, there is a search there somewhere!
  • Hopefully not too far off topic here.
    What are peoples thoughts on the google text ads in the right hand of the results pages? Any experience as a buyer of these? Click through rates etc...?

    Search Engines have to pay the rent somehow - if the google model works for advertisers it'll work for google. Personally I seldom click on them.

    This is just Yahoo trying to claw some money back. I wont be using this service - even if I was inclined to pay for results it wouldn't be Yahoo getting my money for oh so many reasons.
    • I was so impressed with Google's text ads, that I plan to start using it for my own business. I find I actually READ some of the ads, and they don't introduce any NOISE onto the page or into my browser.

      The payment model is quite reasonable, too -- the advertiser pays so much per display (can't remember the rates, but it wasn't very much), and you can specify the maximum you want to pay in a given month, so if search criteria that cough up your ad are more popular than you thought, you won't get an unexpectely-large bill. I figure it might cost me $15/month tops, and I have reason to expect it will more effective than any other currently-available advertising for my business.

      There's usually a link below the text ads that goes to information about the service.

    • I've gotten click-through rates as high as 7.2% when properly targetting keyword phrases for my client's businesses. The ad-management system in Google is quite good, allowing you to have multiple ads, split for US vs non-US users (handy for a client that does free US shipping). Best of all, you can start out with just a little money in it and see how it works for you.
  • an alternative... (Score:2, Informative)

    Although it's still in beta mode, I found Teoma [] to be a great search engine, and at times, be even better than Google in whatever I was searching for.

    For any of you considering paying for this service (none hopefully ;-)) give Teoma a shot.
  • by Seth Finkelstein ( 90154 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:53AM (#2888180) Homepage Journal
    This IS the old Northern Light premium searching. It's not documents one can find in Google: (emphasis added)
    According to the site, Yahoo plans to charge consumers between $1 and $4 to retrieve files from a specialized database of some 25 million research documents culled from 7,100 publications, including academic periodicals. Yahoo also expects to offer a "Premium Discount Search" option of 50 documents a month for $4.95.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project ( []

  • Google's main revenue stream is from licensing its searcing technologies. It's most certainly the best search technology, but I have to wonder how solid that revenue stream is, and how long it can last. I know I wouldn't mind ad viewing for my google searches, but ads don't even provide a good revenue stream these days (do they ./?). Google or any search engine could start (or maybe already is) tracking the types of things people search for in a session, maybe requiring logins.. and then selling that information to those marketoids and information analysts.
  • by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:54AM (#2888204) Homepage
    Is this a competitive effort against Lexis-Nexis against documents NOT currently indexed in Yahoo ?

    If it is this is a good thing for Yahoo and its users, IF they are going to charge for documents already in the Yahoo search database then it sucks and they are ruining their core business.

    Yahoo is one of the oldest, although I could never ever figure out why people liked it , I can never find a damm thing Im looking for there, google, no problem, prior to that HotBot,

    Lexis-Nexus used to charge big bucks for this same type of "premeium" indexing, Im not sure anymore, but I doubt it has changed, this has been an invaluable tool for projects I worked on involving trade journals, and Industry specific news, much of which is still not publised to the web.
  • by mirko ( 198274 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:56AM (#2888215) Journal
    They say their database would consist of 25 millions of docs taken from 7100 magazines you'd usually have to pay for.
    So, unless Google actually offer a significant document base (in terms of quality, not of quantity), there is no concurrence, here.
    this service could be invaluable for students, researchers documentalists, librarians, journalists who want to know more about the tech info they want to publish...
    So, yeah, this could work, if the money is also used to retribute the documents authors (which'd authorize their indexation/publication).
    Of course, such a functionality is not aimed at the public but just at its scientific subset.
    I just hope they'll offer some test queries to try-and-eventually-adopt such thing.
  • by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair&NOwcmifm,comSPAM> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @11:56AM (#2888224) Homepage
    Didn't Infoseek originally have "pay for search" services, back in 1995?

    I don't think that worked then, nor will this work now. Yahoo, instead of advancing the technology of their search engine, or marketing the integrity of their category listings (you get less hits but the sites that you find from Yahoo were quality ones), they are trying to suck every cent out of what they have.

    Google has FAR passed them by. Their search algorhythm seems to be able to offer the best of both worlds, automated indexing AND good quality results.

    Yahoo needs to either find a better form of that (which would greatly reduce their labor costs), or else BUY Google.

    Already, their pay for listing has destroyed the integrity of their category listings. Pay for search will just eat up what little respectibility they have left.
  • Remember that yahoo decided to branch off from being a "pure" search engine (e.g. "google") to become more of a web portal. I think yahoo is still trying to be profitable as a "web portal" (e-mail, shopping, chat) company, and part of its "portal" services will be a pay websearch service. However, IMHO, I doubt it will be very profitable against a free engine like google, or the other competition (altavista, excite, hotbot, )

    If yahoo really wanted to make a profit on its search engine capabilities, it should have advertising like google, but it would point to yahoo sponsored sites, such as its shopping network or yahoo member pages. Then yahoo should charge a small commission for each sale done through its site (ala ebay)...
  • by ism ( 180693 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:03PM (#2888269)
    From the ZDnet article: Yahoo plans to charge consumers between $1 and $4 to retrieve files from a specialized database of some 25 million research documents culled from 7,100 publications, including academic periodicals.

    The way this is worded, it seems you can freely search for documents, and if you find a document you'd like to view, then you pay to see it. The article specifically cites academic journals, so this is probably more like LexisNexis in that the documents are electronic versions of print journal articles.

    Are people willing to pay for this? Compared to the alternatives of subscribing to LexisNexis (if their journal databases overlap), or obtaining the print copy, the convenience of being able to download the article is probably worth it to many people. As someone who does academic research, I know I would. Fortunately, my alma matter (which I have access to as an alumnus) has a subscription to NexisLexis. If Yahoo's offering complements or surpasses that, then they have a probable customer in me.

    I think this is a good thing, not just for Yahoo, but for the Internet as a whole. This lays down the beginnings of some infrastructure for a possible future involving micropayments. We're getting a step closer to Ted Nelson's docuverse.

  • In the stock news on Yahoo, about 1/8th of the news articles had a vague headline to a subscription finance news service. Now checking stock news, these news links no longer exist. If the lack of these headlines means anything (dead) then Yahoo may have to look at the path taken by others in the field to not repeat the same mistakes.
  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:05PM (#2888288) Journal
    Naturally, I don't expect the people submitting stories to get the facts straight, and certainly don't expect the editors to check. But with 48 +1 posts already, I'm surprised no one has posted a correction yet...

    According to the site, Yahoo plans to charge consumers between $1 and $4 to retrieve files from a specialized database of some 25 million research documents culled from 7,100 publications, including academic periodicals. Yahoo also expects to offer a "Premium Discount Search" option of 50 documents a month for $4.95.

    No, you can't get that for free from Google.

    • The "Premium Discount Search" actually looks like a pretty good deal. Since Northern Light charges $1-$4/document normally, this discount rate could be very economical.

      There is one *free* source of premium online info that is often not well known: Your local library.

      By entering in my PIN # from my library card, the New York City [], Westchester [] and White Plains [] library systems have some decent online tools.

      They may not be Nexis/Lexis, but they are free, have some pretty decent information available, both in breadth and depth.
  • Secret Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:06PM (#2888295) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it's just me, but if people can already find the most relevant results on Google, what are the chances anyone's gonna use this service?
    Good point. But note that Yahoo is really selling content, not search services. The sad fact is that Yahoo has never been a good search site. Like many dotcoms, they put too much emphasis on branding and marketing, and not enough on technology. Now they're scrambling to do the boring stuff they should have started out with -- and also scrambling to find ways to pay for it.

    What really gets me is the way Google keeps introducing major improvements with a minimum of publicity. Yeah, they attract attention when they add conspicuous features like the Usenet archive and image searching. But it's really a bigger deal when they quietly improve their stop-word and wildcard handling. Contrast this with their competitors, which announce every little tweak as if it were the Return of the King.

    Maybe Google is afraid their competitors will notice what Google is doing right and the others are doing wrong. But they can't hide the fact that they're the only search engine turning a profit!

  • I realize that Slashdot loves to make stupid snide comments, but this is certainly not a "second rate search." Had CmdrTaco even bothered to do a single search [] he would have seen that the content is coming from subscription magazines and journals -- content that you can't get from Google because it's for-pay content. But far be it from Slashdot to do any sort of investigation.
  • Why doesn't Yahoo do consulting? As far as I'm concerned they've managed to master the art of lightweight yet highly functional web sites, as well as having a pretty impressive infrastructure.

    I'm sure there are some businesses that would love to have an intranet that used Yahoo technology. And I'm sure there are also a lot that would love to outsource their extranet filesharing to someone with a good infrastructure and known how-to.

    It seems like a better idea than trying to make money off the internet itself.
  • Question I have is this: if you search and can't find the document then do you get a refund?

    You start charging for content -- searches, text, whatever -- you suddenly raise the bar. You can't expect people to "pay for searching" if the success rate isn't incredibly high.

    Besides -- with very few exceptions -- does anyone actually buy into the idea of "premium content?" Lately, I see a lot of sites charging for premium content. But when you actually poke around and try to figure out the content, you discover a lot of lame videos, lame games, and generally uninspired content. (I'm thinking here of some of's "premium" offerings.)

    True, the Wall Street Journal -- and other content specific sites like it -- are exceptions, but a *search engine?*

    Cripes, you're not even paying for the content, as I understand this -- you're paying for some sort of advanced search algorithm. I mean, if you're paying for the content -- and they actually know where the content is -- then why not simply offer up the content and skip the whole "premium search" idea?

    I don't get it. But I do know this: whenever most websites start talking about "premium" stuff, it usually means that they're close to going bankrupt.

    Another example: I went ahead and signed up a one-month subscription. I figued it'd be nice to get all of Salon in a single PDF file. Well, it *was* nice. But now I realize that size of "Salon Daily" in PDF is shrinking -- drastically. Yesterday, I think it was down to about 8 pages -- and not even all the stories on their website were actually in the PDF. (And the formatting for interviews is non-existent, so there's no way to distinguish the question from the answer -- which, in the case of last week's Noam Chomsky interview, was incredibly disconcerting (since Noam sounded as though he'd drunk a six-pack of Pabst and was spouting off any old shit that zipped through his head. One of the weirdest interviews I've ever read. But I digress...)

    And yet another example of screwed up premium content:

    Tivo. I hear now Tivo has partnered up with Real (I thought it was a joke, too, but then I read the press release) and see that they're going to recycle the stale videos and stale audio on Real's site into my Tivo. Wonderful. And then -- as if that wasn't enough to make you lose all faith in Tivo -- they've partnered up with (drum roll) some company that makes the 'You Don't Know Jack' game. Please. Like I want some 5 year old game being pumped down my wires just so Tivo can say they've conquered the living room?

    It's interesting, but the real premium content -- the stuff that would actually make "premium" worth a premium price, IMHO -- is nowhere near being available -- and that's the "jukebox in the sky" idea (any song, on any computer, anywhere) or the "any concert, anytime, anywhere" idea. I'd gladly pay 10 bucks a month to see quality concerts streamed on-line. But not stale old recycled stuff. Up-to-the-minute stuff. Like being able to catch Dylan from the night before. Or whoever. Concert-at-glance type stuff. That's interesting. It's not worth a *lot* of money, but it'd be compelling content.

    Ditto for the jukebox-in-the-sky.

    But paying for some search engine?

    Please. I bet even the Yahoo suits are scratching their heads and wondering how, exactly, to deliver "premium searching." I mean, maybe someone tries it out once because they're looking for a specific document -- like I coulda used a premium search not long ago when I was looking to compare miniDV cameras and wanted to see all the PDF manuals of my top-3 wishlist cameras -- but that's about it. (Of course, I couldn't find any of the manuals on-line.)

    Or maybe to find some old on-line manual for the garbage disposal underneath your sink that has that little button on the bottom of the disposal unit and you wonder what the hell that button is for because it doesn't seem to do anything when you press it.
  • This may come as a shock, but a ton of people have *NEVER HEARD* of google. It's the web page I send people to here at work when they are having connectivity problems because I know it won't be cached. Yahoo is banking on this, as well as the fact that people who use the service won't want to change. Yahoo has dropped a ton of money on publicity, how much has google dropped? The common unwashed masses will use and see...
  • "...what are the chances anyone's gonna use this service?"

    Ah, ahcohordingaling to my expert, with the TI calculator and the number crunching, calculations the chances are 3.
  • ... they aren't in this case. Yahoo isn't out to charge for access to your web page via their portal, but rather it would seem that they're creating a cheap alternative to something like Lexis Nexis [], which, in in my opinion, could be a horribly valuable asset for, say, high school debate teams that can't afford $600/year and up that Lexis-Nexis charges. There are very few players in the online document provision market - and none with the ability to provide affordable content that Yahoo! has. They see this and are taking advantage of it in another attempt to reach profitability.
  • i don't know how those amazing business brains do it!! What top idea will they come up with next? how about _charging_ people to see banner ads?
  • by Mengoxon ( 303399 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:30PM (#2888440)

    Yahoo will not offer a pay-per search (ZDNet's mistake, repeated by Slashdot) but a pay-per-view service for academic papers.

    Since most academic papers are copyrighted by publishers and charged for, there is no way that Yahoo or Google or Slashdot anybody else could offer such a service for free. (without throwing away money)
  • I Found it... (Score:3, Informative)

    by heytal ( 173090 ) <> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:31PM (#2888448) Homepage
    go to advanced serch from yahoo home page..
    yahoo premium search [] is a nice thing to have. They have a collaboration with some sites, whose documents can be bought as mentioned in the news. Help [] on premium document search can be found here. And a list of all "qualifying documents" can be found here []
  • Having spent a lot of time in The University library over the last couple of years, I'd commend Yahoo on a good move. Academic journals are an interesting little world. Often the subscription cost exceeds circulation, eg. $900 per year, circulation 800. Currently database services which include articles from these journals tend to follow a similar marketing concept, often charging $15 - $20 dollars per article. If Yahoo is able to provide these same articles for $1 to $4 that would be a huge benefit for many struggling grad students.

    Hopefully the benefit will also trickle down to the general public as the lowered cost of access to research makes it easier to apply research in practice.
  • by Tazzy531 ( 456079 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:35PM (#2888471) Homepage
    Before everyone goes off an say that they will never pay for a search engine, please understand what Yahoo's plan is.

    Yahoo isn't planning on charging for the searches that you do on its portal now, like the searches for the web pages. What they are offering for a fee is the stuff that you cannot find on any websites out there, where the publishers make them unavailable for free. Yahoo is moving towards the market that Lexis-Nexis [] is in now.

    Many of you claim that this plan is unprofitable or nobody is going to pay for it. Think about this. Lexis Nexis charges $9/law review articles, $3/newspaper article, $4-12/SEC filings, or $129/week for Business news package. My school is paying into the 10K+ range for a site license per year.

    This is definitely a highly profitable area.
  • Isn't this just another Lexis-Nexis or JSTOR [].
  • by jjohn ( 2991 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @12:48PM (#2888566) Homepage Journal

    why go out for hamburgers?

    Yahoo is sitting on a gold mine of data. By creating a group of engineers to data mine their link database, Yahoo could make a bloody fortune. Users aren't the cash cow here -- corporations are. Companies regular throw goofy sums of cash into marketing and Yahoo could get fat feeding at that corporate tit. I wrote more about this in my journal [] some months ago.

    Punishing users who only make their data richer makes about as much sense as interstate tariffs.

  • According to the site, Yahoo plans to charge consumers between $1 and $4 to retrieve files from a specialized database of some 25 million research documents culled from 7,100 publications, including academic periodicals. Yahoo also expects to offer a "Premium Discount Search" option of 50 documents a month for $4.95.

    Who is going to use this? If these "research documents" are truely from "academic publications" shouldn't the biggest audience these "documents" already have access to them through their respective academic institutions or research firms.

    Even as a graduate student who reads at least a dozen reaserch articles per week I wouldn't consider using this service. It is much easier to use the FREE service provided by my academic institution. Also, I highly doubt that Joe Normal desires to read the research articles in this week's Science. So where are the customers?

    IMHO, This sounds like another nail in the coffin for Yahoo.

    Any comments?

  • by dreamquick ( 229454 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:02PM (#2888640) Homepage
    Who thinks that a paid search with the current level of technology just will not work?

    People only going to be paying for documents that can be found, and every failed search is going to lose them money.

    Given that these are technical/research documents it is a fair bet that the target audience already know how to get access to them, probably for free as well.

    How do you compete with that and make money out of it?

    Well you could license in better technology to improve your hit rate - Google is one of the best search engines out there and yet that still has holes in its ability to get what everyone wants every time...


    Try searching for a phrase in quotes and watch as good strips out the common words rendering your phrase useless. (yes i know you can counter this by using +'s but why should i have to do this for a phrase search?)

    If you try hard enough you can find a phrase that when google is done with it results in just one word. And i'll be damned if i can remember the phrase i wanted searched for...

    At the moment IMHO search engine technology is very good but it is just being outgrown by the increase in content that needs to be captured to provide a top-notch search-to-hit ratio.

    Maybe the solution is to have a two tiered search concept;

    the free searches are just like they are now - you get a response in real-time and take your chances that the results do not match what you actually wanted.

    the paid searches are not real-time, but depending on how much you are willing to pay you get a corresponding fast result ranging anywhere from a few hours up to a few days.

    for your money you get a better service (including the ever popular boolean searches, regular expressions etc if you just want to use this like a big full-text index) which you could focus much tighter than is currently possible to get a decent set of urls, summaries, and reports at the end of the process.

    We've all been there - we want something very hard to find and which results in a lot of mis-matches on search engines. if someone said they could get me a few urls which are directly related to my search in a few days then I'd pay a few dollars for that!
  • Google Isn't Immune (Score:5, Informative)

    by Merry_B.Buck ( 539837 ) <> on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:14PM (#2888714) Homepage Journal
    Google will start adding similar revenue-generating ideas, or their financial backers will start demanding changes.

    Two-thirds [] of Google's revenue is from ads. They are opening new sales offices (e.g. Germany), but slowing down tech hiring. That suggests they are betting on increasing ad revenue at a time when their competitors have decided that ads alone can't sustain search-engines. Google's techie hiring cutback also suggests that they don't think additional software R&D can help them grow as much as investing in non-tech areas. [Estimates I've seen of Google's revenues are US$30M - $70M a year, with their CEO saying that makes them just about profitable.]

    Worse for Google, they hold few patents for their basic technological advantage, and their infrastructure (including their huge database) could be rebuilt in a few weeks by a cash-rich M$. The only protection they have against Teoma et al is their staff -- but loyalty can be bought. (Google uses options to encourage employees to stay. If the options cease to look promising, some people will leave.)

    Another problem facing Google is their staff itself. 50 of their 250 employees are PhD's. That means they have lots of valuable technical knowledge, but it also means that 50 of their highest-paid employees have a collective 0 years experience in business planning. Consider that their senior management lacks a CFO at all, and is loaded with CS doctors who tend (like normal geeks) to want to work on "cool" things instead of profitable ones.

    Google's proud of its lack of advertising -- but don't they also lack the marketing that would produce such advertising? Look at two of recent new products: the USENET database (cool, but what good does it do for *Google*?), and the shopping-catalog database (a possible money source...but very risky, requiring licensees to share their revenue stream and catalog-shoppers to change their habits.)

    Being private means Google can avoid stockholder demand for quick profits...sort of. Their only source of funds is two VC firms, since the founders had little money of their own. The two firms [1 []][2 []]-- each of whom has a seat on Google's board -- will eventually demand return on their $25 million investment. Remember, the folks who gave Google its money want to see profits, and have *lots* of experience in tweaking start-ups to generate them.

    Don't get me wrong -- Google's great;Brin & Page deserve copious kudos & cash. However, I'm watching for some danger signs:
    • Lots of new "Sales" or commission-based positions at company
    • An exodus of employees. (With their high retention rate, "exodus" might mean 10 people.)
    • Research efforts into non-Linux infrastructure.
    • A lot of new product offerings that target consumers directly.
    I'm also watching for signs I'd consider *good*:
    • A removal of one (or both) founders from day-to-day operations.
    • More parterships with content producers.
    • Another level of financing (demonstrating VC belief that they can grow.)
    Whew! (my $rant->time_complete=now();)
  • (1) NY Times - best paper in the world; $0.25 / day.
    (2) Google - gets me there quickly; also usenet portal; $0.25 / day
  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2002 @01:57PM (#2888995) Homepage
    For a long time, Yahoo! was seemingly ignoring the free "add URL" things they were getting and only adding to the directory those entries that were accompanied by their $199 "premium" service which guaranteed that they would look at your entry.

    Now they've gone to a $299/year RECURRING fee for listing.
  • It appears that yahoo is using the same data and engine that Northern LIght is using.

    If you do a very specific search (someting that produces limited hits) on both sites the result is exactly the same, right down to the price, Doc size and ID, citation info and so on.

    Even the order that they list the results is the same.


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