« Confused about Endnote? | Main | Photo of the Week »

Blog Searching Made Simple

With their rapid rise in popularity – over 100 million as of December 2007 – weblogs, or blogs, have become an almost unavoidable avenue of information. Internet-savvy scholars look for blogs that will point to potentially useful resources or news items that keep them current on their topic. However, finding blogs on your topic can be tricky; most general purpose search engines are not that effective at locating blogs. Here is a rundown of three popular search tools that specialize in retrieving information from blogs:

Google Blogsearch
Set up almost exactly like Google’s standard search engine, Blogsearch has special features that assist in searching blogs. One important feature to note – the basic search looks for your terms in individual posts of blogs, not for entire blogs devoted to your topic. Advanced Search allows refining your search of blog posts by limiting your terms to “all words��? (i.e. “criminal justice and America��? would search for “criminal��? and “justice��? and “America��? anywhere in the post) or “exact phrase.��? The lower search box allows you to specify that a term is found in the title of a blog; this will bring up a list of blogs that are more likely to be entirely about your topic. You can also search by URL or author. Because one of the benefits of reading blogs is the fact that they are frequently updated, the advanced form allows you to limit searching by how recently the item was posted to the web (up to one hour ago).

If you’re interested in receiving updates for the search terms you’ve entered you have the option of signing up for “Blog Alerts��? which will send you email reminders when you’re search terms appear in postings and blogs. One disadvantage of Google Blogsearch is that it seems to push blogs using the Blogger platform (which it owns) to the top of your search results.

Bloglines
Similar in style and function to Blogsearch, Bloglines allows you to specifically search postings and blogs based on search terms you establish. Clicking on the “More Options��? button brings up the advanced search option. Very precise searching is feasible on advanced search, as you may enter as many keywords or limits you need by clicking on the red “add an entry��? tab. You can also limit by language(s) and dates. Bloglines also adds the options of letting you include or exclude news related blogs. Creating an account with Bloglines allows you to set search limits to include or exclude your established RSS feeds (using RSS feeds is like “subscribing��? to blogs, in that it allows you to directly receive regular updates from your favorite blogs).

Technorati
Technorati functions on similar standards as the previous two examples, with some exceptions. One unique limit you may specify is the level of “Authority��? a blog has. “Authority��? is defined by Technorati by the quantity of web sites that link to the blog in the last six months (perhaps, instead of “authority,��? they should use the term “popularity��?). In addition, you can limit by language from the basic search screen. The “advanced search" option allows you to search blogs using many of the options offered by Blogsearch and Bloglines. Advanced search also lets you type in a URL, and it will find those blogs which link to it.

While blogs are usually not authoritative enough to use for research, they can point to some useful information. Here are a few that may be of interest to the Downtown Campus Community:

Criminal Justice Online
Government Jobs
LIS Scholarship
Social Welfare Spot

Blog post created by Michael V. Daly