09 January 2005

PubSub vs Search Engines

Quick tip:MUD searches

Ever notice how PubSub generally has a fixed-maximum-number of hits?

The number I keep seeing is 32.

Brilliant. On a planet of 6 Billion people, PubSub gives me 32 hits. Google, on the other and, might give me millions of hits.

PubSub says that users should “more narrowly” define their search so they get exactly what they want.

Small problem. Once the end-user “figures out that the number of hits they’re getting” and the “quality of the returns they are getting” are not consistent with their requirements, PubSub will not change the returned results for that subscription until you restart the subscription under a new name.

That makes sense. A subscription is something you subscribe to. When you change the subscription parameters, the old search-routine on that subscription stays in full force. Even though you changed the search-terms, you still get the old subscription.

The solution is to restart the subscription with the new terms, more narrow terms.

However, have you noticed what PubSub is asking the end-user to do:

Step 1: Enter your terms, wait a while.

Step 2: Review your list of results. Figure out whether you get the information you want. [After waiting].

Step 3. Zero-out the search and start over. [Time is passing, and you now have nothing].

Step 4. Then restart the subscription with new terms, if needed with new terms. [Wait some more for the world to provide new results].

Meanwhile, you only get 32 results. Maybe.

See what’s going on? You only get a small number of hits, you have to wait, and if you need something quickly, you may only “know to narrow the search” after you’ve waited.

On the other and, we have a system like Technorati and Google that gives you many hits and you can “in real time” narrow the search into something more specific.

So what’s all this mean? Well, if you want to use PubSub, be prepared to wait. If you want to know “what the right terms are,” use a search engine or a blog-search tool to narrow into your area of interest.

Otherwise, you’re going to end-up allowing the “limited number of search results” drive you into changing your parameters, and then re-starting your searches.

Summary

If you want something fast, use Google. If you’re prepared to wait, use PubSub. Other writers may not be using the same terms you are using, so you may end up waiting a long time.

This helps explain why people who use PubSub also have an aggregator with other search tools to back-up their tools.

PubSub limitations:

PubSub has a limited number of search results;

PubSub will make you re-zero-out the subscription if you need to change the terms to modify your search;

PubSub doesn’t even give you search results for information contained within the HTML title code; and

PubSub doesn’t have the updated information that is contained in the subsequent revisions to a particular feed option; does not get the changes or additions to subsequent blog-updates.

Quick tip:MUD searches

Ever notice how PubSub generally has a fixed-maximum-number of hits?

The number I keep seeing is 32.

Brilliant. On a planet of 6 Billion people, PubSub gives me 32 hits. Google, on the other and, might give me millions of hits.

PubSub says that users should “more narrowly” define their search so they get exactly what they want.

Small problem. Once the end-user “figures out that the number of hits they’re getting” and the “quality of the returns they are getting” are not consistent with their requirements, PubSub will not change the returned results for that subscription until you restart the subscription under a new name.

That makes sense. A subscription is something you subscribe to. When you change the subscription parameters, the old search-routine on that subscription stays in full force. Even though you changed the search-terms, you still get the old subscription.

The solution is to restart the subscription with the new terms, more narrow terms.

However, have you noticed what PubSub is asking the end-user to do:

Step 1: Enter your terms, wait a while.

Step 2: Review your list of results. Figure out whether you get the information you want. [After waiting].

Step 3. Zero-out the search and start over. [Time is passing, and you now have nothing].

Step 4. Then restart the subscription with new terms, if needed with new terms. [Wait some more for the world to provide new results].

Meanwhile, you only get 32 results. Maybe.

See what’s going on? You only get a small number of hits, you have to wait, and if you need something quickly, you may only “know to narrow the search” after you’ve waited.

On the other and, we have a system like Technorati and Google that gives you many hits and you can “in real time” narrow the search into something more specific.

So what’s all this mean? Well, if you want to use PubSub, be prepared to wait. If you want to know “what the right terms are,” use a search engine or a blog-search tool to narrow into your area of interest.

Otherwise, you’re going to end-up allowing the “limited number of search results” drive you into changing your parameters, and then re-starting your searches.

Summary

If you want something fast, use Google. If you’re prepared to wait, use PubSub. Other writers may not be using the same terms you are using, so you may end up waiting a long time.

This helps explain why people who use PubSub also have an aggregator with other search tools to back-up their tools.

PubSub limitations:

PubSub has a limited number of search results;

PubSub will make you re-zero-out the subscription if you need to change the terms to modify your search;

PubSub doesn’t even give you search results for information contained within the HTML title code; and

PubSub doesn’t have the updated information that is contained in the subsequent revisions to a particular feed option; does not get the changes or additions to subsequent blog-updates.

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