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Friday, October 27, 2006
 

Biblical Studies Search from drought to plenty ::

For years I dreamt of a biblical studies search engine, somewhere I could point students and church people to that would achieve several things Google does not:
This desire meant an engine that would only search a restricted (peer reviewed, or at least scholar reviewed) range of sites.

Yesterday JPS pointed out that Google now offered just that possibility! So, both he (Idle Musings) and I (Biblical Studies Search) started experimenting with the service.

Then Danny at Deinde announced that he/they have been slowly working towards a Bible focused search engine, only to be pipped at the post by Google. This is great, now we can all really play with this search thing and make it work the way we want...

My first reaction was I can stop playing with Biblical Studies Search and just help Danny turn Deinde Biblical Studies Search and The Biblioblogs Search into the best of Bible related search engines. And I plan to...

But... then I played with Danny's tool and mine. Danny has hundreds more sites indexed 1600 URL's to only 88, but that very expansiveness means that Deinde results are less focused and more Google-like than Biblical Studies Search. For some terms, like "camel" the difference is small:
However, for some terms (like "slavery") the lack of focus seems to me to make a narrower selection more useful:
So... what I suggest is that we play with both. That you suggest sites to both, and then we see whether (a) one approach (narrow or broad) seems clearly "better" or (b) whether they are good for different tasks/people, and we move into the future on that basis...

I'm aware that even now with under 90 sites indexed I have begun to get both "off topic" results. Should I drop archaeology.org because its inclusion gives this among my first page results:
Yankee Slavery
Evidence of African burial customs has been found on an eighteenth-century plantation in southeastern Connecticut.
Come to that including the Catholic Encyclopedia is dubious, are articles from 1914 really desirable?

So, there are issues to resolve with both approaches, but my view is that trying both for now is a good way to work out and evolve the best Biblical Studies Search we can!

[Note to self: I must ask Danny if we should/could both put both boxes on our pages and ask people to compare them...]

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