Monday, 19 August, 2002

Drawbacks to Full Text Searching

I think I've mentioned before the limitations of full text search.  Today I got a couple of great examples.  I'm doing some research on watershed management, flood control, how agencies manage the floodgates in our many dams.  My Google search term today was "watershed modeling floodgate".  The first thing to catch my eye was the second sponsored link from Fox Talent says "Are you model material?".  Apparently, Fox Talent pays for every hit on the term "modeling".  The sixth link on the first page of search results was this article from Christianity Today magazine.  Need another?  Last week I got an email from a woman who was given a link to my December 2000 diary page when she searched for "fig toothache."  She was looking for information on a folk remedy for toothache, which involves the sap from a fig tree.  She got my page because early in the month I had mentioned my toothache, and late in the month I mentioned trimming back the fig trees.

It sure would be nice to have a well organized "table of contents" for the Web.  Full text search has its uses, but as the web grows, the signal to noise ratio in Google searches is becoming absurd.