Information & Research Instruction Suite (IRIS)

Beyond Search Engines

Hand-Selected Subject Directories

As we've seen, the search engines use bots, or programs, to collect web sites for their databases. In contrast, search tools called Subject Directories use real people to read, select, and add web sites to databases.

As you can guess, subject directory databases aren't nearly as large as Google or Yahoo, so you won't get a billion hits, but you might get better hits. Notice I said might get: with web searches, results depend on your topic.

The following example shows searching for the phrase "election reform" in a popular subject directory, ipl2 ( Notice a couple of things:

  1. There are 479 web sites (compared to 444,000 found using Google).
  2. The View Info (magnifying glass) icon provides more information about the site, such as subjects, description, and publisher.


Reproduced with permission from copyright 2010 by the ipl2 Consortium ( All rights reserved.

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