Search Assignments On The Web


Can I take this course on credit/no credit basis?

Yes. Credit will be given to those who would have otherwise earned a C- or above.

Can I audit or sit in?

In general we are very open to sitting-in guests if you are a member of the Stanford community (registered student, staff, and/or faculty). Out of courtesy, we would appreciate that you first email us or talk to the instructor after the first class you attend.

I have a question about the class. What is the best way to reach the course staff?

In general, we ask students to use the Piazza forum for our class so that other students may benefit from your questions and our answers. If you have a personal matter that you believe is not appropriate to share on Piazza (even in a private post), you may email the course staff at We may NOT be able to reply emails sent to individual instructors or TAs regarding the class.

As an SCPD student, how do I take the final exam?

For SCPD students, if you are local, you're encouraged to just come to Stanford for one of the on-campus exams. If you are not local or can't make it at the on-campus exams, you need to line up an exam monitor (usually your manager or a co-worker at your company), and submit the form specifying this person to SCPD in advance. You won't get an exam if you don't have an exam monitor on file. You will then be able to do the final exam during any 3 hour period that works for you and your exam monitor between approximately Monday noon Pacific time (from whenever the monitor gets the exam from SCPD) and Wednesday 6:30pm Pacific time. You need to make sure we get the exam back promptly (monitor should scan and email directly to us) by Wednesday 7:30pm Pacific time. We need to grade exams that evening in order to be able to turn grades in in time.

Will there be virtual office hours for SCPD students?

We will be sure to join a Google hangout for at least some office hours. We'll share more detail about office hours by the second week of class.

FIT 100

Assignment 1:Searching the Web

(or, Finding what you want, and no more!)

Autumn 2001

Required reading for Assignment 1:

Link to and read the sections on Search Engine Math and Boolean Searching at the Search Engine Watch website.Review the Search Engine Features page to help in your search:

Search Engine Math

Boolean Searching:

Search Engine Features for Searchers:


Many of you have done a fair amount of browsing and searching on the Internet.But have you ever thought about how and where to search in such a way that you get only those sites you want and no more?Constructing a search that does exactly that is very difficult, if not impossible.However, you can learn to search the Web in a way that brings back a smaller set of “hits” (web pages that match your search), and improve the chances that these hits are more relevant than not.

So, what exactly IS a Search Engine?And why do I care?

A search engine is really just a program, or series of programs, that is designed to try and help users find useful information on the Web.A search engine consists of several pieces (these will be covered in lecture).The basic idea is that a search engine takes terms that you enter give to it and tries to match those terms with documents out on the Web that are most relevant.

Seems simple, doesn’t it?Yes, it seems simple… but relevance is hard for a program to determine when it doesn’t “know” the person doing the search.This is an exercise for you to see both the ease and difficulty of searching for information on the web.


·         To use basic search strategies in a search engine and bring back sites with information on a topic.

·         Learn to find the best search method for a particular search engine.

·         To develop systematic and precise search skills.

Online Resources:

Some available search engines (but not the only ones!!!!):


Uses link popularity as a way to rank a web site.If 50 different sites link to one other site, this is a good indicator that it is a relevant page for the topic it covers.


One of the largest search engines around.Allows searches just on images and other formats.Also has a translate feature.


DogPile is a metasearch engine.It runs a search across other search engines to get results.It allows you to specify a search for images or audio files, etc.

Ask Jeeves:

Directs a user to relevant sites by having them ask and answer questions.Pulls links from a database of sites that answer pre-created questions.

Some search engines use a directory structure to organize web sites by subject:


Directory setup.Provides email, news, etc.

List of Search Engines by function:

A useful page to go to lists of search engines.

To Do:

1.      Go to and use the categories to find the site.What is the most logical starting point?

After you have found the UW site, then go back to the start page at Yahoo and try to search for the same thing using the search box at the top of the page.How did you search?Did the UW site come up in the first page of results?

2.      Search for information about the riots that broke out in in December of 1999 over WTO, the World Trade Organization.

How did you construct your search?

Compare several search strategies.Which one appears to be more effective? (look at your top 10 results)

Can you figure out what is happening as the results are returned?Are pages being brought back because they have all of the terms? Or because they have just some of the terms?

3.      Using the list of search engines by function at:

What would be a good engine to use if you were looking for national news?

How about if you are searching for medical information?

A note on copyright and public domain images:

Images and other files and content on the Internet are protected in the same way as print materials and photographs.Use of digital images for purposes of alteration and display on the Internet has limited coverage under the conditions of fair use. [] and [].

Public Domain [] items are those in which the copyright has been lost, has expired, or the author of the work makes no copyright claims to reproductions or enhancements of the work.

If you use an image of a person for reasons of making a profit, you are responsible for obtaining permission from the person or their heirs.If you use a trademark image, you must also get permission.

Copyright in websites:[]

4.      Using the Search Engine Math you read about, construct a search to find sites that contain images in the public domain. Use Google for this first search.

5.      Do that same search across in AltaVista and Dogpile as well.Compare your top 10 hits.Do you get the same results?

·         How are they similar?

·         How are they different?

6.      Try changing the search and see if you get different results.For example, if you did your first search as +public +domain +images, try a search with the phrase “public domain images” instead.

Do your results change?

7.      Do a search for images related to on the web.Alta Vista has a way to just search for image media on the web.Can you locate other search engines with this same feature?

8.      Find an image of the skyline.Which search engine had the best image and what number was it in the rankings?

9.      Now look for images you would like to use in a website of misinformation (Project 1) and save them for manipulation in Adobe Photoshop later on.Remember to FTP all images to your Dante account so you’ll have them for use later.

NOTE:Make sure that any image you select is in the Public Domain OR the copyright policy on the site where you find it states that you are allowed to use it for non-commercial purposes!!!!!

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