Sunday, January 21, 2007

Searching: Wikipedia as a Primary Source

It's amazing to me how much good material there is on Wikipedia these days. It's getting to the point where I'm about to switch from doing a Google search as my first step in research to doing a Wikipedia search. This obviously doesn't work for very dynamic or overly specific things, like a recent news story (Google News) or some very detailed aspect of a software package. But for terms, or relatively well-known subjects, it is a wealth of information.

For example, it's entry on the Objective-C programming language is quite good. It's explanation of networking terms, for example, is surprisingly good.

It may be time to switch the default search engine for my Safari search field...

3 comments:

Eric Burke said...

Google still has a better search engine, though. I use domain-specific searches on Google often. For instance:

volcano site:en.wikipedia.org

Brian Gilstrap said...

Eric makes a good point. I use a Safari plug-in that lets me use different search engines from the search box. It's called AcidSearch. And if I define the URL prefix as: "http://www.google.com/search?q=site:en.wikipedia.org " (note the trailing space) this gets me a Google search of only wikipedia.

Thanks for the tip, Eric.

Richard Wells said...

I've found the same thing, Brian. For "older" stuff, it's much more direct for overview knowledge than wading through Google hits.

I use a Personalize Google Home Page as my home page in most browsers (I sit at many machines...) and I put a Wikipedia search widget front and center.