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A Look At 4 Realtime Search Engines

25 Lug/09

Realtime search seems to be one of the buzzwords of the year. Many search engines have plans to include realtime search in their search results. Microsoft’s search engine Bing already does include Twitter results in search results pages. Quite a few realtime search engines are already accessible on the Internet and this article will take a closer look at four of them: Feedmil, Oneriot, Scoopler and Collecta.

All of these realtime search engines have in common that they retrieve data from various sources upon the user’s request. The data is usually fetched from services such as Twitter or Friendfeed but also from blogs, social media sites and podcasts. Differences mainly exist in the way the results are presented to the user and the filtering options that are provided.

Feedmil

Feedmil offers a few features that the other realtime search engines do not offer. It comes with a slider that can be used to define the popularity range of the results. It is for example possible to concentrate on popular sources for the results only. The service can also filter results by type so that only results produced by a certain type of website or service are displayed. The types include blogs, micro-blogs, podcasts and social media among others.

feedmil

Feedmil divides the search results page in two columns. The main column displays search results based on time and popularity while the sidebar column displays hot feeds related to the search term. The presentation of the results is excellent although they seem to be filtered before they appear on the page (we would have expected more Twitter results of the past four hours for a popular search term such as Google). It would also have been nice if the pages would not have to be reloaded when switching between the various news sources.

OneRiot

OneRiot looks almost like a conventional search engine. It mixes search results from various sources on the search results page. Sources used include blogs, Twitter, forums or Friendfeed and popular websites such as Userscripts or Digg. The results can be sorted by Pulse or Realtime with Pulse displaying popular results while realtime concentrates on fresh results. The results page looks a bit messy which can be mainly attributed to the avatar icons and the two different link colors that are used by OneRiot. The results look almost like Google Adsense ads which by default also use two different colors for their links.

oneriot

Scoopler

Scoopler divides the results in three different columns with two showing results related to the query and one displaying the hot topics of the day. The main column displays the search results in realtime which becomes apparent as the posting time is usually less than five minutes ago. It will display results from a variety of sources including Twitter, Youtube and blogs. The main column gets updated that frequently for popular search terms that it is almost impossible to keep up.

The right column displays popular results and can be filtered to display only images, videos or links.

scoopler

The auto updating page strongly emphasizes the realtime aspect of the search engine. It would have been nice if there was a way to pause the search results from being updated or to add certain search results to a personal area where they could be accessed at a later point in time.

Collecta

Collecta is the final search engine of this article. It will also display realtime search results and auto-update the page just like Scoopler. It comes with a pause function which is very handy as the results are displayed in rapid succession if a popular search term has been entered. The service uses four different categories that can be filtered in the search options: Articles, Comments, Pictures and Updates.

The results are displayed in the main column of the page. A little bit irritating is the orientation of the page as it is aligned on the left side of the screen and not centered. A click on a result will display the full message in the right column from where it can be viewed and processed further.

collecta

A way to add multiple results to the right column would have been nice. As would have been if the source of the result would have been displayed in the main column.

Verdict

Realtime search engines have one problem: They can either display all results which are impossible to keep up with for popular search terms or display only popular results from sources that they have picked (e.g. Twitter accounts with a follower count of at least 200). Both options will dissatisfy some users. It would have been nice if the services would offer a better customization of the results by offering the user to add individual sources to them. Letting a user add Twitter, Youtube or Friendfeed users and channels, blogs and websites or social media sites could be interesting for many users as this would take the RSS reader concept to the next level by mixing it up with other sources that have been handpicked by the user.

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