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The Internet

Altavista Renewed 335

Waterlooppln77 writes "Altavista has recently changed their searchengine to allow more competition with Google.com. It offers a whole set of new features, like searching through PDF documents, and more importantly got rid of the commercial portal thingie." Anyone remember when Alta Vista was the best search engine?
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Altavista Renewed

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  • RE: Oh joy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fshalor ( 133678 ) <fshalor@co m c a s t . n et> on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:49AM (#4636697) Homepage Journal
    Any word on whether the're also playing nice about which sites are displayed first?

    • by registro ( 608191 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @12:50PM (#4637186)
      Well, one thing is for sure: Google is no longer playing nice about which sites are displayed first, The new Google is about selling AdWords space, no fair displaying.

      This is something that is not well known to most of you, so let me explain:

      Google seems to be randomising results on commercial categories, in order to force commercial sites to pay Adwords to be on top. The sites that used to be on top, the most popular sites, are no longer there.
      We have been tracking the cats and keywords affected by the randomised effect since September, keyword showing different, degraded, results with each reload. We have found most competitive travel, hotel and adult related keywords seem to be randomised. The result? Sites have been suddenly deprived of their legitimated traffic, and are been forced to pay AdWords, Google Sponsor programs to survive.

      Just one example. A we are following a keyword that used to have 10.000.000 result before the September Google Algorithm update ( the so call Adwords Update). Since 10/300/02 the keyword showing a only 6.000.000 results 25% of the time. Sometimes it has anything between 170.000 and 200.000 results, and 35% of the time it only list 142.000 sites, and the results are pure junk: the top 10 sites are sites without a domain name (only the ip), sites with "Fireworks Splice HTML" as the only text on it, and control panel sites with a "Personalise Your Home Page" title on it. The result? Sites have been suddenly deprived of their legitimated trafic, and are been forced to pay AdWords, Google Sponsor programs to survive.

      Belief me, this Altavista move is VERY WELCOME from the webmaster community. Google is handling 90% of the no-MSN queries now. It is very close to became a monopoly, and it's last two month behaviour shows it in not going to be a "good hearted" monopoly, if such a thing exist.

      • Boohoo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 10, 2002 @01:24PM (#4637327)
        Don't blame Google, blame yourself. They owe nothing to you. They offer a free service to searchers, and as long as the service is good, searchers will visit (ask AltaVista about what heppens when your search turns to crap.)

        Google is not a monopoly, since there are still numerous other search engines. People simply don't use them because most of the time, they're pretty bad. If you have to depend on Google for search traffic, then you really need to think about the fact you're that dependant on Google for your business model.
      • Re: Baloney (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Animats ( 122034 )
        I don't see this happening. I tried searching Google repeatedly for "cars", "cell phone", "viagra", "sex", and "london hotels", which seems to cover a broad range of saleable stuff. The same results appeared on each reload. What's this guy selling?

        Besides, it's quite reasonable for Google to randomize results for roughly equal-valued matches.

        • Re: Baloney (Score:4, Interesting)

          by registro ( 608191 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @07:02PM (#4639041)
          I'm speechless, they stopped.
          Just for the record, "london hotels" was one of them, but it stopped dancing today, just like 20 more keyword we where following.
          It must be a coincidence, but those searches where changing since last 10/30/02 until 6 hours ago, when Slashdot published the Altavista article.
          Im tempted to think this is a new form of slashdot effect.
      • by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @02:35PM (#4637652) Homepage Journal
        Sites have been suddenly deprived of their legitimated traffic, and are been forced to pay AdWords, Google Sponsor programs to survive.

        I'm not sure what the word "legitimated" means, but you make it sound like web sites are entitled to their Google ranking. Google can do whatever they want. As long as its users are happy with their search results, capitalism is working the way it should.

        Instead of being mad at Google for wanting to be paid money for driving more traffic to your site (you other option being to do nothing and still have Google drive slightly less traffic to your site, for free), you should be thanking them for years of sending you customers for free.
      • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:46PM (#4640035) Journal
        Complaints of bogus Google rankings are, I think, quite entertaining. What, AltaVista ranked your site higher than Google?

        See, Google is a really unique entity. Most successful companies are driven by business types, suits. Google is a big collection of computer scientists doing research, and taking a no-compromises approach to product quality. They decided to go for long-term value -- having happy, well-served customers, instead of the many sites that went with pop-up ads, corporate tie-ins, sponsored portal links and the like during the dot-com era to boost short-term profit.

        As a result, Google is on top. And they got on top by doing the Right Thing, unlike almost everyone else in the industry. It's an excellent example of the quality-through-competition-and-enormous-market that Internet visionary types have been trumpeting since the dawn of the Internet.

        Of course, not everyone is happy about this. Competing search engines, the ones that frequently have far more money backing them, yet still can't keep up, complain bitterly. The marketing types that used to be able to trick the simple algorithms the old search engines used, or buy positioning in the searches, can no longer do that. I constantly hear bitter complaining about that as well.

        But you know what? Despite all the mudslinging I've seen from these types, I've yet to see Google blow up yet. They consistently provide near-magical search accuracy, finding what I'm looking for. They have a simple interface that is built around what the Web was intended to look like (i.e. not pixel-positioned, invisible-table-laden crap). They cost me nothing, other than a few simple text based ads (which are small and have helped me occasionally). Google is absolutely incredible. They happened to be in the right position at the right time, and as consumers flock happily to using Google rather than remembering DNS entries for websites, a lot of companies feel unsettled. In their traditional world, they could *buy* a DNS name for a load of money. They could sue anyone with a competing name. All of a sudden, they're thrown into a world where *they may have to compete for recognition with their smaller competitors*. It's what the Internet had promised for ages -- the ability of the little business to compete with the large one, where incumbents have no inherent advantage. A lot of companies dislike this intensely, hence all the bogus lawsuites and claims of falsifying search results that Google has made.

        Google has always claimed that they wouldn't muck with search result ordering because it would cause customers to move away from their then-inferior product. I think that they're true to that, but it doesn't matter -- if they aren't, eventually people will migrate to whatever better search engine pops up. The sort of folks at Google understand trends and systemwide numerical movements based on small factors -- I doubt they'd make an argument like this without it being reasonable.

        Google has even put out a whitepaper [scu.edu.au] describing how their search engine works.

        So we have a free service that has lesser ads than almost any commercial website, has uncanny accuracy, does *not* (unlike rivals who openly sell them) sell page rankings, has a science/engineering culture (instead of a business one), and is fantastically successful.

        Finally, Google is under no onus to do anything. They are not a meaningful monopoly. The entire point of a monopoly is that you can erect barriers to competition by using your clout. You can always easily go to another website, and Google even published a fair bit of the foundational technology in their engine. You can't really go much further than they did to be open, free, and competitive. The point is that they have a superior product, and they are unwilling to screw their customers over to gain short-term bucks.

        Contrast this to Microsoft, where you have a vast array of monopolies, compatibility and technical information issues that are visciously used to guard their markets, secrecy, inferior products, and a willingness to gouge the customer and do everything possible to keep them in line. And yet, Microsoft gets a slap on the wrist. If that's acceptable, Google sure as hell is.

        When I search for "Altavista" on Google, I get Altavista. When I get something else, *then* I'll start being suspicious.

        Finally, you claim that Google returns poor search results. I disagree. I have found that Google consistently returns the most useful results of any search engine I've used, and does a fantastic job of shoving "junk" results well after the "useful" results.

  • by SexyKellyOsbourne ( 606860 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:50AM (#4636698) Journal
    But after google, the only redeeming feature it had was babelfish -- and now google translates webpages better, too.

    Altavista became way too bloated and way too commercial, and it will wither and die away within 5 years. Everything it does, google does, but without the sense of bloat or loading 200k webpages full of ads.
    • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#4636817) Homepage Journal
      Altavista became way too bloated and way too commercial, and it will wither and die away within 5 years. Everything it does, google does, but without the sense of bloat or loading 200k webpages full of ads.

      3 years ago you would have been saying that X was going to whither away and die because everything it did, AltaVista did better. In case you haven't noticed, Google hit the point where they decided that not losing money would be wise, and they've started to fill up on advertisements. For all we know Google might be 2MB of Flashvertisements in a years time.

      Personally I'm willing to use whatever service offers me the best search results. Whether someone develops a new CredibilityRank(TM - Patent Pending) system that eliminates the garbage, or a phonetic search for the chronic misspellings that plague the net, I'd switch in a heartbeat.
      • Likewise -- I use the search engine that most often returns results relevant to whatever *I* am searching for. Until about a year ago, that was Hotbot (text-only version). Now it's Google. Next year it may be someone else.

        Tho I have to agree with the long review someone posted up above -- Altavista came up slow (a good 10 seconds just for the search page to display?!) and returned results slowly. On a search where I know very well what results should come up, Google finds nearly all the pages, AV finds less than 20% of them (180 vs 29). Tho to be fair, AV did cough up a couple that Google missed.

      • Google hit the point where they decided that not losing money would be wise, and they've started to fill up on advertisements.

        Google needs to make money. How do you think they pay for all of their bandwidth? Anyway, the only ads they have are unobtrusive text ads. That's great, considering that advertising everywhere else on the net is getting worse and worse every day, with popups and animated ads. I can't see how anyone can complain about Google's advertisements.

        Also, Google will never get flashvertisements or anything of that sort. They know one of the main reasons people use their site is the clean interface with no annoying ads. They won't abandon that. They're making a very good profit just the way it is.
        • Google needs to make money. How do you think they pay for all of their bandwidth?

          Why so defensive about Google? Indeed, why are so many on Slashdot so defensive about Google in general? It's a search engine with people looking to make a buck somehow -- It isn't a benevolent charity. I'm not saying it's a BAD thing that they've decided to get some income: I expect them to make money. Let's face it though: Google became prominent basically for doing what Microsoft gets slammed for (at least in the case of IE): They ate costs to get marketshare, and it worked beautifully. The number one reason that most people went to Google in the nascent years was the absolute lack of ads.

          Also, Google will never get flashvertisements or anything of that sort. They know one of the main reasons people use their site is the clean interface with no annoying ads. They won't abandon that. They're making a very good profit just the way it is.

          And you know this how? I like Google. I use Google exclusively for searching. I've used Google for years. However I don't love Google, and I owe them no loyalty outside of what they earn day to day by having the best search engine.
        • Google needs to make money.

          You beg the question, phrasing it as if distorting the rankings is the only way a search engine can make money. Look at their site under 'Services and Tools', they're primarily a software development firm and make money by selling custom search solutions. The website was originally a showcase for demonstrating the power of their product.

          Now Google may be choosing to move from a software-based business model to a search/advertisement business model, but that doesn't mean they weren't making money before or that it's a good move. It seems to me if their showcase continuously returns biased results, people will choose to use both the search engine and the software less. It certainly didn't work for Altavista.

    • Google and BabelFish both use the SysTran engine for translation, and should both come up with the same results.

      However, BabelFish translates Japanese, and Google doesn't.

      • Which is why we use Sherlock 3.

        A list of languages that will surely blow away google and babelfish: (and it does use the systran engine too).

        Dutch
        Chinese Traditional and Simplified
        French
        German
        Greek
        Italian
        Japanese
        Korean
        Portugese
        Russian
        Spanish

        The only language that might be useful (to me, that is missing) is Latin.
  • by LWolenczak ( 10527 ) <julia@evilcow.org> on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:53AM (#4636716) Homepage Journal
    The results on altavista still have not gotten better... they always seem to be upwards of six months old... where google seems to be within the month in most cases... hell...I see google's bot hit my personal webserver about every two to three weeks. I have not seen altavista's bot in a very very very long time..
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Google has my new 2 week old webpages up for searching, and I'm getting dozens of hits from there.

      Altavista still has the temporary marker page that I replaced in JUNE

      and it's bloated.


    • I've noticed that too, about altavista. A subdomain of mine that hasn't even resolved for over six months still shows up in AV's search results.

      maru
  • AltaVista Renewed? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The J Kid ( 266953 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:54AM (#4636720) Homepage Journal
    AltaVista Renewed?

    Eh? As in almost, but not quite slashdotted out of existance?

    But anyway, there tech was allready renewed, now it's just the new design, which, as with all proper web-design, is as unspectaculair as google now.

    Anyway, I do feel old now.... :(
  • I remember (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:54AM (#4636721)
    altavista.digital.com

    "Anyone remember when Alta Vista was the best search engine?"
  • not really..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vertical_98 ( 463483 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:55AM (#4636723) Homepage
    I do remember when you could search through 4 or 5 different search engines and get 4 or 5 different search results. HotBot would always return a porn site in the top ten results regardless of what you where searching for.

    Vertical
    • Jeez, I'd completely forgotten them. 5 years ago, they would have been my number 3 choice, after trying Altavista and Yahoo or maybe Lycos (yes kids, Yahoo was once a real search engine). I just checked and they're still there - I got misty-eyed for a moment since it brought back memories of a less commercial (by at least 2 orders of magnitude), more information and technology oriented, FLASH-FREE web. Once the advertising leeches found out about the web they started making it more like television - more and more squeal, less and less pig.
  • Be fair, now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:55AM (#4636726) Journal
    Anyone remember when Alta Vista was the best search engine?

    While that was an innocent, playful poke at the AV folks, let's not forget that some of us still remember when Google was "just an academic project" and its founders were "of course going to give all future modifications to their PageRank algorithm".

    Some of us were let down by the Stanford research project that "sold out" and failed to give back to the community from which it was birthed originally. I'm proud of Google, don't get me wrong; but there's still a small part of me that would have liked to see it stay non-commercial.
    • Re:Be fair, now (Score:5, Interesting)

      by verch ( 12834 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:34AM (#4636861)
      If you want to be fair, consider this, Google is a fantastic service. Probably (no, definitely) the single most useful thing on the internet, and the most useful thing all around since duct tape. And its free. So I'd say they are doing ok by the community. Think it would exist if they hadnt 'sold out' and started taking money for tiny little non intrusive ads? I don't think so, and that would suck.
      • Re:Be fair, now (Score:5, Insightful)

        by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @12:48PM (#4637171) Journal
        So I'd say they are doing ok by the community. Think it would exist if they hadnt 'sold out' and started taking money for tiny little non intrusive ads?

        I actually _like_ their text ads, and I really, really hate graphical ads. To me, it's an unobtrusive and polite way to tell me something, and I often find myself reading them.
    • Re:Be fair, now (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "sold out" and failed to give back to the community

      you know, even though google may be commercial, ads aren't quietly planted inside your search results (a la yahoo 5 years ago, maybe now? i never go there), in fact, the ads are at the top of your results, highlighted and specifically marked as a "sponsored link".. and since google is so damn efficient and so damn free, i'd say they've given back A LOT to the community.
    • I guess its only the grownups and adults who can realize that at the end of the day putting a Lexus in your garage or being able to pay for private school tuition for all of your children (i.e. becoming financially independent) is a wee bit more important than "keeping it real" for some lame whiny high maintanence community.

      In case anyone is wondering, no I'm not being sarcastic.
  • Hehe (Score:2, Redundant)

    by ekrout ( 139379 )
    Anyone remember when Alta Vista was the best search engine?

    Anyone remember when Slashdot [slashdot.org] had a search engine?

    (yes, I realize it's "kind of" working right now...well, at least the last time I checked it...)
  • Quick comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rde ( 17364 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:59AM (#4636743)
    I've found three reasons thus far for sticking with google:

    News. Google's may be experimental, but it's great. I've dropped most of the science news portals I visit in favour of google.

    Puerile searches. I've just done a search for "pubic health" on both google and AV. The latter returned nothing.

    Uptodatedness; google hit my site less than three hours ago. No record of AV at all at all.

    Of course, all this is based on a (really) quick evaluation of AV, and as such is probably unfair, hasty and uninformed. In the best slashdot tradition.

  • But.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by LordHunter317 ( 90225 ) <askutt@@@gmail...com> on Sunday November 10, 2002 @10:59AM (#4636747)
    Will I still get porn ads when I search for porn?
    • Will I still get porn hits when I search for flowers to send my mother on Mother's Day?
      • Re:But.. (Score:3, Funny)

        by Kragg ( 300602 )
        If you insist on sending her cherry blossoms, tender young buds and 'deflowers' ('de flowers, mon, for me modda, ye get me mon?'), then yes.
  • Has anybody actually tried Altavista yet? I have, and I can say it's better. I don't know how much better, but it does look like they've gotten rid of the paid ads that blend in with the searches. As for compatibility, great job! It looks perfect in Opera, and even that little thing they use with the blue bar works.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:01AM (#4636753)
    Search results for "free donkey pr0n":

    AltaVista - 162
    Google - about 500

    'nuff said.
  • Their new features (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:06AM (#4636771)
    from the alta vista web site:
    Fresh, relevant results: AltaVista refreshes 50% of the results daily. Results include PDF files as well as Web pages, images, audio and video files.

    How is this possible. Surely you can't poll 50% of the web every day. Nor could you even poll 50% of the spiderable web every day. This seems absurd, but its their number one ranked improvement.

    AltaVista Shortcuts and AltaVista Shortcut Answers find results on Web pages that are usually invisible to search engines. (on the U.S. Site only)

    Umm does this mean Alta Vista is going to start ignoring ROBOTS.TXT permissions? I dont think they are talking about PDF documents because they called that feature out in a separate bullet. So what is the Invisi-weba dn why do only they have access to it?

    this soundslike vacuous hype.

    • by sumengen ( 230420 )
      > Umm does this mean Alta Vista is going to start ignoring ROBOTS.TXT permissions?

      No, i think it is similar to google phone/address finder, map finder, etc. future, which is displayed at the top of search results.
    • by tigress ( 48157 )
      50% of the web? No, but perhaps 50% of the results returned. Considering that most people never check beyond the first page of results, and most people search for the same things, such as sex, free donkey pr0n and stripped backplanes, I could imagine reindexing the 50% most popular searches quite easily.
  • Digital et al (Score:4, Informative)

    by SpikeSpegiel ( 622734 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:11AM (#4636785)
    Its quite simple why Altavista sucks now. They used to be Altavista.digital.com because digital ran it. Digital had pride, after all, the built the fastest single chip processor in the world, why not have the best search engine. For a time they did. However, Digital's marketing dept couldn't seem to sell the best product (what a bunch of idiots if you ask me), so digital was bought out. Without Digital's influence, Altavista no longer had any drive to be the best. Just like the Alpha, its unfortuente to see some of Digitals best projects languish to obscurity, after all, HPQ killed Alpha within the past 6 months or so. Apperently competition with intel is bad*Palladium edit, Violation of EULA, do bashing intel*
  • The Design, whilst trying to look stripped down, isnt as good as Goggle, Daypop or any of the dozens of other more "fresh" services. Perhaps they will do somethig about it.
  • Sneaky Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:14AM (#4636801)
    The bastards have the search result links prefixed and they use JavaScript to hide that fact when you mouse over so they can spy on what links you click. I think Google may have done that in the past, but their links look normal now.

    <td class=csr onclick="BlOp('/r?ck_sm=5282c169&ref=200020080&uid =477b1d8923f776&r=http%3A%2F%2Fchorus.inav.net%2F% 7Ebjackson%2F')" title="Open result in a new window" bgcolor=#C9D8EE id="bl3" width=10 onMouseOver="status='http://chorus.inav.net/~bjack son/'; return true;" onMouseOut="status=''; return true;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td>

    • Re:Sneaky Links (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:39AM (#4636879)
      Google does exactly same thing. It's rare, but it does happen. It's no more than two weeks when I last saw that behavior. I told to friend of mine and she didn't get spy links. I went to workstation next to me and did same search and no spylinks. Reloaded it on my own workstation and spylinks were there. I think they have some servers on cluster in spy mode and it's just bad luck to get result page with links to google logging system.
    • While Google seems to have removed its per link click code (which I filtered with Privoxy anyways), they still have the Javascript at the top meant to hide it from the status bar:

      function ss(w){window.status=w;return true;}
      function cs(){window.status='';}
      function ga(o,e){if (document.getElementById){a=o.id.substring(1); p = "";r = "";g = e.target;if (g) {
      + t = g.id;f = g.parentNode;if (f) {p = f.id;h = f.parentNode;if (h) r = h.id;}} else{h = e.srcElement
      +;f = h.parentNode;if (f) p = f.id;t = h.id;}if (t==a || p==a || r==a) return true;location.href=document.getElementById(a).href }}

      Maybe they only turn on the indiviual link checking sometimes, perhaps with a random sample?
    • by paranoic ( 126081 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @01:47PM (#4637444)
      Hotmail has been doing this forever. They rewrite links in your email messages. Which makes one wonder, what else are they doing with your email?
  • by RapDoggy ( 624546 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#4636814)
    Here bookmark this one in your favorites!

    http://www.altavista.com/web/text [altavista.com]

    Beat that Google (-:
  • by Graabein ( 96715 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:31AM (#4636853) Journal
    I just did a test, I tried entering the single search word "Jaguar", and wanted to compare:

    • Speed. Speed is very important in a search engine, if it ain't fast it ain't usable as a tool for everyday work. I tried a real life search for "Jaguar" as well as a search that is almost guaranteed not to be cached.
    • Paid placement at the top of the results, or "sponsored links" as the search engines like to call it.
    • Relevant matches. Specifically I wanted to see how near the top Jag-Lovers [jag-lovers.org], the largest non-profit Jaguar enthusiast site, got.
    The result were conclusive: Google wins hands down on all counts. Altavista lists half a page of paid for "sponsored links" before any actual search results are returned. Google has none, but curiously the topmost link is for MacOS X - Jaguar. Did Apple pay Google to have MacOS placed above any links for Jaguar cars, or is this a result of thousands of Mac users linking to Apple's MacOS X site?

    Altavista was sloooow, taking several seconds to return a non-cached search result (try searching for something "unusual", or a completely made up word). Google is fast, returning the first results page instantly, no matter what.

    Relevance: MacOS X is of course very relevant to a search for "Jaguar", even if it's not what I expected ;-). Google lists it at the very top of the first page, Altavista has a mention of MacOS X at the bottom of page 1, but not Apple's homepage for OS X. Jag-Lovers was only listed on page 3 on Altavista, after 3 pages of various commercial sites, including of course Jaguar Cars' various sites. Google lists Jag-Lovers near the bottom of page 1, after Jaguar Cars' sites.

    There is no question in my mind, Google is the best tool. YMMV. Oh, and yes, I remember when we all marvelled at Altavista and read about how the project started out as an idea scratched down on a napkin over lunch at DEC. DEC is dead, and so will Altavista be soon enough. Google is so much better, so why should Altavista survive in the long run?

    • Actually, minority OS users do own the net :) Try doing a google search (and this works on altavista too) for Wine - the first link goes to WineHQ for the Windows emulator.
    • Graabein wrote:

      > Altavista lists half a page of paid for
      > "sponsored links" before any actual search
      > results are returned.

      Not only that: I think google's advertisements are much more easy to spot as they have this light green background....

      Altavista only has a small bar on the left which is light grey for ads and a little bit darker when the actual results start.

      And no wonder the pages loads that slow with all those gifs (which are of course not cached like googles logo on the top left).
    • Google is so much better, so why should Altavista survive in the long run?

      While I agree with you on Google giving a much better service, I do believe there's a space for Altavista, Alltheweb and (hopefully) scores of other search engines as well. The reason is simple:- more than ads (television, pop-up or otherwise), it's search engines that uniquely determine how we browse the net. Sure, so far Google has *largely* been Good (tm), but that doesn't mean it will continue to be so. In particular, I'm concerned about the way results are arranged in Google (or any search engine); there's no accountability, nothing's open, there's only a vague comment about how The Algo gives PageRanks to each individual page. As we saw earlier [searchenginewatch.com], Google has taken results *without* publicly announcing that it's doing so.

      Indeed, Alltheweb [alltheweb.com], in particular, sounds promising. It has more indexed documents with a faster "refresh cycle" [alltheweb.com] than Google, a video, mp3, and a ftp search, and also says it can search through Flash movies [alltheweb.com]. Of course, no way it can replace Google Groups, but all the same, it's definitely a viable alternative to Google. I believe we should welcome greater competition among search engines.

      Free-market competition will help us avoid unduely relying on a single company. For Google's sake, I don't want it turn into a monopoly.

    • by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @01:41PM (#4637411) Journal
      Completely unrelated, but try a search on google for "stoner girl" and look at what the third result is ...

      How did THAT get there????

      Seriously, how did it get there?

      --NBVB
    • Google is fast, returning the first results page instantly, no matter what.
      Wrong. I made google perform a 27 second search (this time length was returned in the search result) by writing a script to find the longest string in the complete works of shakespeare made up entirely of stop words. Entering the stop-words in the format {"+1 +2 +3 +4"} -- the quotation marks are part of the search -- made Google all but croak. It's cuz' it had to merge the list-of-all-sites that 1 appears on with ditto 2 with ditto 3, etc.
      Fun stuff.
      (Also: the search became cached instantly, and NEVER again took very long.)
  • by jdkane ( 588293 )
    Damn, at first I thought this /. post linked to a popup advertisement but THAT IS AltaVista's new look! There appear to be some overarching similarities between the new AltaVista look and domainsforsale.com [domainsforsale.com] (warning: watch out for pop-ups). As for that fancy highlight thingy to the left side of the AltaVista search results, I give it a 2 month survival period, because it's annoying and and doesn't serve a purpose.

    I partly apologize for being so critical, but obviously they tried to go for Google's look (unfair). Even though imitation is a form of flatery, AltaVista should stand on its own merits which is the quality of the search results.

  • by at_18 ( 224304 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @11:41AM (#4636885) Journal
    It still doesn't work. I searched for my name and I find myself 2nd.
    With google, I am 1st.

    Well, it's clear which is bringing more justice to the world.
    • Re:Doesn't work (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reziac ( 43301 )
      I just did a search for one of my aliases, which is two words in a unique arrangement, and should return exactly one result. I thereby discovered that Altavista's "exact phrase search" is broken. It returned *anything* with one word or the other, but NOT the single instance that should come up with both words adjacent.

      Indeed, it seems to be parsing only on "any of these words" no matter how I tried it. Regexp is apparently not part of their vocabulary.

      Tried a number of searches whose google output I'm familiar with, and AV didn't do very well on any of them. :(

  • It actually had searching. I remember when you could go to Yahoo at it's Berkeley student account website to see if any new websites existed today.

    Bah. Whippersnappers.

    (Can I get a (+1, Old Fart) moderation?)

  • I remember when... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by venomkid ( 624425 )
    ...altavista was the only good search engine. Then everybody decided to make their search engine a "portal." Except Google... hmmm... :) vk.
    • Then everybody decided to make their search engine a "portal."

      To me, there are some things that a portal is good for. One of those things is _not_ to have categorized links for every topic imaginable right on the front page. I don't have time to read that. Instead of clicking the "Sports" item, it's faster for me to simply type "Sports".

      I think that possibly site owners are getting back to the basics and getting rid of the big, bloated pages that used to seem so impressive and professional (yeah sure).
  • AltaVista Lite (Score:3, Informative)

    by PastaAnta ( 513349 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @12:04PM (#4636980)
    AltaVista has actually had a "lite" version without the heavy commercial portal thingie for quite some time.

    The link is/was: www.raging.com [raging.com]

    But now I can see it has changed to point to the same renewed interface as www.altavista.com.
  • Re: remember when (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trevin ( 570491 )
    I don't remember Alta Vista ever being my first choice. Before Google, I always used Yahoo to look up sites by category (directory browsing), and either Excite or Infoseek for keyword searches. If those engines didn't turn up what I was looking for, then I'd try Alta Vista, because they would return many more results than anyone else.

    The problem was that in most cases, Alta Vista returned so many results that the vast majority were irrelevant. It was difficult to wade through them to get to what I was actually looking for.
  • Webcrawler is the first web search tool I remember using (true search as opposed to directory listing a la Yahoo)

    At the time I think Webcrawler was still someone's research project, as it was hosted on a .edu. This would've been around '91 or '92.

    Surprisingly Webcrawler.com is an active search page, 'powered by InfoSpace'...

    I've never gotten into the whole sarch engine loyalty thing. The best thing to come along IMO were tools like Sherlock on Mac OS that could run queries on multiple search engines and return the results in a single list.
  • Well, I read enough flaming of altavista so I ran a simple test. I searched altavista on google and google on altavista.
    Altavista is still lot slower I will say and the first result it gave me was google.de, maybe because I am posting from Switzerland.
    The results were fairly balanced on both sides, though I think I would still keep using google for speed.
    But one kinda nice feature about altavista is the option to refine one's search. For example I got many tabs on the top about differnt things related to google.
    Refine your search with AltaVista Prisma Click a term to focus your search. Click >> to replace your search. Help
    Google Toolbar >>
    Cool Stuff >>
    English Pages >>

    Erweiterte Suche >>
    Language Tools >>
    Search Solutions >>

    Search The Web >>
    Suchen Auf >>
    Adwords >>

    Cost-per-click >>
    Suchtipps >>
    Web-seiten >>

    That I think is something google doesnt do as cleanly. In rest all the departements either they are equal or google is better.

  • by EvilOpie ( 534946 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @12:29PM (#4637079) Homepage
    Quite honestly... I don't know why everyone complains about AltaVista's appearance for their web portal thing. Honestly, I never was too impressed with it myself though. So what I did was bookmark their text only search page [altavista.com]. It uses even less bandwith than google, since there's not even a single graphic on the page... it's 100% text.

    But there were several reasons I switched to google over time. I'd say that cached webpages were probably the biggest reason. It's annoying to find most webpages either 404'd or changed since they were spidered by the search engine. At least with google, (at the time) you could see what it looked like at the time it was searched. So you know that even if it wasn't what you were looking for, it would at least show you a cached version of the page that would have your search terms SOMEWHERE in it.

    There were also other things too. Being able to search for images, more relavent searches, etc... things like that pulled me away from AltaVista. I visited AV once recently, and I noticed that they are trying to be more google-like. And with this... I'll be willing to try them out again, though I'd be surprised if they'd pull me away from google at all. But even when I switched to google, they've still always been my backup searcb engine, for when I want to see if they'll pull in slightly different results than google. But we'll see how that goes. I'd like to see them do better, I've always been fond of AltaVista.
  • back in the day was the neat way you could use Babelfish to get around the school firewall. Just set it to translate from X->English. Worked a lot better when the languages had less words in common.

    And before anyone makes any pr0n jokes, this was something that NEEDED to be done. My high schools firewall was overly sensitive and based upon keywords. Imagine my trouble finding a web site on the Trojan War!(This was back before we got an ISP at home.)
  • try and submit your site, theres only one free option. there are three paid placement potions including a cost per click solution. Bull shit!

    i know these places need to make money, but i sure makes it hard for struggling sites to be seen, especially since i pay out of my pocket for hosting to keep it ad free. this is why i love google, its bot is always on my site, and im even starting to come up in the rusults on certain search terms, thanks to a fair ranking system.

  • by dotgod ( 567913 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @01:09PM (#4637267)
    is if we had a search engine that used a moderation system for the website matches.
  • if I can remember when altavista was king?

    Sheesh. In a 2 or three years it's probably going to be like "you're and old fart if you remember way back when Pete Sampras was actually hitting returns".

    Hey, young 'uns, what's your life cycle like? Us, we live to be like 70 or 80...
  • OT Hotbot (Score:2, Funny)

    by vicviper ( 140480 )
    I searched for 'google' at hotbot.com, and the first entry returned is for lycos.
  • by Kenshin ( 43036 )
    AltaVista's Marketing Committee:

    "Gee, we need a new logo so people know we've changed."

    "Hey, let's get rid of that nice mountain range, the works with the 'high view' meaning of our name, and give it SWOOSHES!"

    "Great! Every other company has swooshes in their logos, so they must work!"

    ARGH!!!

    Am I the ONLY person who's sick and tired of all these goddamn swoosh logos?

  • Wow.

    Just the other day I was looking through the bookmarks I have saved in Lynx on an old shell account. The search engines I'd bookmarked were Lycos as lycos.cs.cmu.edu [cmu.edu] and Altavista as altavista.digital.com [digital.com]. Neither of them had a www at the start, and both still resolve today.

    Unfortunately the same can't be said for some of the gopher:// links I had in there too. :(
    We've come a long way in a very short time...
  • I DO! :)

    I loved it, but then I found google like everyone else. I never got into yahoo. I actually remember when lycos was the best search engine. Ahhhh... Good times :)
  • by kstumpf ( 218897 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @02:33PM (#4637640)
    This is a prime example of why competition is so important online. Google is influencing other search engines and sites to focus on what's important. After the trend propogates and sites dare to innovate, Google may even have some competition again, which will probably just make Google get even better.

    Although I'm happy with Google and won't use AltaVista myself, I hope AltaVista finds some success in their decision to strip away the useless commercial grafitti.
  • by n9fzx ( 128488 ) on Sunday November 10, 2002 @03:26PM (#4637899) Homepage Journal
    It always amazes me how history gets munged in the retelling. For example, the lunch meeting I had with Louis Monier and Joella Paquette (Left at Albuquerque) was actually the second or third meeting I'd had with Joella about "Alto Vista", and it was the first time I'd met Louis. There was no napkin involved. Or that the name came from a half-erased chalkboard: actually, it came from the award plaqques in Joella's office; when she asked me to code the name the project, I looked at the placques, chose the word "Alto" from "Palo Alto" and first "View" from "Mountain View", which we immediately changed to the Spanish "Vista". Louis' wife corrected the feminisation error a few weeks later, and the project settled into "Alta Vista". The whole idea was to build a search engine to demonstrate that DEC could do things with Alpha and the Internet that nobody else could.

    Louis did the crawler code (known now as "scooter") and was the prefect person to do the job right, as he's a graph theorist by nature and had just finished working on a massive threads debugging tool. Chuck Thacker then suggested that we talk to Mike Burrows over at SRC, who had a wonderful full text database, which Louis and I concluded would work far better than my original idea (using Oracle). So Mike did the database code. I did the first (crude) web-based UI for Mike's code, and even with Louis' first crawl, it was amazing what we could do (relative to the other seach tools of the time). My other chore as "hardware guy" was to spec out the first AlphaServer 8400 that we would get to run the demo. There was a huge backlog of 8400 orders at the time, and only about a half dozen of DEC's techs were trained and authorized to work on them.

    AltaVista's initial triumph was simple -- the database held ten times more pages than anything else, and also indexed all of the words in the pages. And yet the response time was nearly instantaneous. Keeping it that way for the first few weeks required a DEC VP to drive several CPU cards through a Boston blizzard to be Fedexed out to Palo Alto, as well as a lot of long hours by the team to diagnose and defend against a number of attacks.

    Two things ultimately kept AltaVista from leveraging its early successes. First, DEC wouldn't part with the necessary capital -- as it turned out later, they were negotiating to be bought by Compaq. And secondly, when DEC was finally bought by Compaq, the latter had no idea what to do with AltaVista. The "portal" strategy was designed to maximize the IPO valuation, exactly what investors wanted in 1999. Large amounts of cash were spent on that strategy, only to have the DotCom Bomb go off a week before the IPO.

    It's remarkable and I'm gratified to see that AltaVista managed to survive and transition to its roots.

    -=paulf

  • Altavista is toast (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tottori ( 572766 ) on Monday November 11, 2002 @06:05AM (#4641458)
    Compare Altavista search: Wil Wheaton [altavista.com] with Google search: Wil Wheaton [google.com].

    Looks like Altavista have redesigned their home page, but their search is still the same old rubbish.

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