The Yahoo! Directory

By joshuaaajoshuaaa (1261335906|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

As the end of the semester draws nigh, I find myself searching for a final blog topic that I found useful during my term project. People search was not extremely helpful. Video and image search didn't help too much either. Realtime/social sites, change notification, and custom search engine tools were extremely useful, but I've already written blogs on those. That brings me back to the research sites class, in which I rediscovered the Yahoo! Directory.

Yahoo! Directory

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I used Yahoo! Directory quite a bit near the beginning of the semester, but my usage sort of trailed off as time progressed. Upon revisiting the tool this past week, however, I have once again realized its usefulness.

My heavy usage of Yahoo! Directory in the beginning of the semester as compared to my light usage more recently makes sense. The nature of the directory, or at least my opinion based on my experiences, is to alert you of other topics that might be related to your query. For example, upon searching for the United States Postal Service, a neat little flowchart-like thingamabob shows up at the top and bottom of the screen (picture below).

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I think a resource like this is most useful while you are beginning your research on a particular topic. The path shown in the picture above (Directory > Government > U.S. Government > Agencies > Independent > United States Postal Service (USPS)) gives you some really convenient categories, all of which link to more examples of companies or topics within that category, in which your query falls or has relation.

For example, consider this query for the United Parcel Service. At the top, Yahoo! Directory gives you four extremely helpful suggestions as to sectors you might be interested in, based on your query. The four that were recommended in my query for UPS were:

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  • Postal and Shipping Services
    • Topics that can be found within this category include UPS and USPS.
  • United States Postal Service (USPS)
    • Topics that can be found within this category, not surprisingly, include USPS and a multitude of Postal Service tools.
  • B2B (Business-to-Business) Cargo Services
    • A bunch of lesser known delivery companies can be found within this category.
  • Express Mail Services
    • Within this category you can find Fedex and DHL (which was the fourth company that was seriously considered in focusing on for this project).

If I was just starting research on the parcel delivery industry, I could look through these categories to see who some of the biggest players are in the industry. As a matter of fact, I sort of did that near the beginning of the semester without really realizing it. As I was searching around looking for information to get me started, I was planning on using UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL as barometers for the industry. This would have been ideal except for the fact that there is not much news published about DHL (or at least not as much as the other three companies that I chose). For example, just within the four categories listed above, UPS and USPS are within two of them, whereas FedEx and DHL are only in one. Based on other observations of mine, FedEx beat out DHL, and here I am today.

But What About Google Directory?

Yes, there is a Google equivalent of Yahoo! Directory, named Google Directory. Is it better? I would argue no. Is it worse? I would also argue no, although I tend to prefer Yahoo! Directory. Let's take a closer look.

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Google Directory

Google Directory is very, very similar to Yahoo! Directory. The only major differences are the names and order of the categories and convenience of use. Compare the Google Directory path (shown below) to the Yahoo! Directory path in the picture near the top of the blog.

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As you can see, there's not a big difference. Google uses United States as more of a defining category, whereas Yahoo! opts to use Government. In a search for the United Parcel Service, Yahoo! and Google produce nearly identical results, although I do like the ranking bar that Google uses to sort the results. I would feel comfortable using either directory, and believe both are very useful tools.

Conclusion

Directories are more useful the sooner you use them (so get to it!). While they are a really good gateway to get you started in the right direction to finding even more information, they can also help find related topics that you might find it beneficial to search, as they just may provide you with information about your topic that you wouldn't have even thought about. I give them 2 thumbs up in the beginning of the search process, and 1 thumb up (and one to the side) if you've already begun your quest.

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