The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at www.stevecarper.com/li I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on Smashwords.com or Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Searching for LI Info

An article by Etan Horowitz of the Orlando Sentinel caught my eye. In it he compares the usefulness of various search engines with an example that whetted my appetite.

Yahoo's search engine was the best at providing information about a broad topic. When I searched for information about lactose intolerance, Yahoo offered a shortcut to articles about symptoms and treatments as well as newspaper articles about the condition. Clicking on an arrow at the top of the results provided a list of concepts related to my search, such as "dairy products," "calcium" or "lactase deficiency."

You must know by now that I never believe anything a reporter writes until I check it for myself.

I went to yahoo.com and entered lactose intolerance into the search box. The following is what was returned to me.



Let's break down the article based on what appears.

"Yahoo offered a shortcut to articles about symptoms and treatments as well as newspaper articles about the condition."

No, not really. You can see links under the heading "articles" that read symptoms, treatments, and news. The first two link to pages on Healthlink on lactose intolerance. The articles do what they say, and may be helpful for quick info. News, however, does not take you to a survey of all the recent articles that contain the words lactose intolerance, as Google News would, but to articles that have appeared in Yahoo's Health News section. Only four have over the past six months.

"Clicking on an arrow at the top of the results provided a list of concepts related to my search, such as "dairy products," "calcium" or "lactase deficiency.""

I was stumped for a while, searching all over the page for any mention of those words or that arrow. I finally found the arrow. It's discretely hidden right under the search box at the top of the page. When you click it, the box expands and reveals the following:



The concepts are clickable. They put those words into the search engine and create a new listing of hits for that search.

How good are the hits? No better than Google's. The first six are:

1. digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/lactoseintolerance
2. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/lactoseintolerance.html
3. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose_intolerance
4. www.mayoclinic.com/health/lactose-intolerance/DS00530
5. kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/lactose_intolerance.html
6. www.medicinenet.com/lactose_intolerance/article.htm

The first six on Google are:

1. digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/lactoseintolerance/
2. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose_intolerance
3. www.kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/lactose_intolerance.html
4. www.medicinenet.com/lactose_intolerance/article.htm
5. www.healthcastle.com/herb_lact.shtml
6. ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/stevecarper/

Four of the six are identical. And while Google finds my website, Yahoo puts in down at #49.

It's also not at all clear to me why Horowitz thinks that Yahoo's concepts are better than Google's. Entering lactose intolerance into the Google search box at google.com brings up the following:



The "refining results" links are essentially the same as the "concepts" that Yahoo uses. Each brings up a new search for those terms.

The real disadvantage for Yahoo is that it doesn't have the little things that makes Google invaluable. There is no cache, so you can't go back and capture information that may have moved off the page. You can't highlight the search terms on the link to see exactly where they fall on the webpage. There's no advanced search page to make your search much narrower or more efficient.

Yahoo is good for the more basic search on the subject of lactose intolerance. You won't fail to find the information you need if you use it. Better? That's extremely subjective. I certainly don't find it so.

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