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October 24, 1997

Web search engines are a funny lot. They're most useful when you spend the least amount of time plugging away at them, but to make a buck by selling ads, they need you to linger. And so most of them want to be the next AOL, with their own chat rooms, classified ads and free e-mail. Infoseek <> is the latest to announce one of these makeovers, but hidden among the hooey about the site's new "channels" and communities are a couple of -- gasp! -- actual functional enhancements. One, the site does a much better job of suggesting categories in its Web-site directory that match your search. Two, it now sorts search results by Internet domains, so if the words you searched on appear 60 times on's irrelevant site, you only see that site once. If a site looks relevant, click "More results from this site" to see what else is there. This is a huge time-saver: A search for pages about jazz keyboardist Ramsey Lewis yielded 20 repetitive screenfuls of hits on AltaVista <>, but the same query on Infoseek netted half as many pages of hits, with the site containing Lewis's home page second on the list.

-- Rob Pegoraro

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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