This week’s question comes from a high school student who recently turned in a research paper in a social studies class and lost grade points because the data that he used was from an outdated Website. As it turns out the main source of his report was a news article that was dated almost seven years ago. His Google search on the topic had placed the article very near the top and he just assumed it was current. His question is how to keep that from happening again? First, I sympathize; it’s happened to me; thought I had just the article to solve a technical problem and then noticed it was dated several years ago.
You need to choose a method to filter your search by dates, but first know that dates on Web pages can include publish dates, index dates and update dates. There are several methods to filter by dates, one being to use the “Advanced Search” feature of your browser. Most have a feature that allows you to filter by several criteria, including dates; some by date intervals and some by week, month or yearly. I don’t find any of them to be particularly intuitive or user friendly. If you want to try “advanced search” in Internet Explorer 8 or 9, click the little gear icon to the far right of the Window and click “Advanced Search”. Please let me know if you enjoy the experience. Another way is to use the built-in “daterange” operator in Google, but who wants to convert to the Julian calendar each time you want to use it.
Most of my readers would prefer a method that is easy, intuitive and pretty much point and click. That’s why I recommend using one of the third party Websites that uses Google as the search engine, but gives you some date filters on the front end. There are several you may want to look at: Gigablast, Spific and DBSearch for example to see which you prefer. For my money” Spific Search” gets the nod; you get immediate drop down menus to pick date intervals and other filters if you like and you can also choose categories like Reference, Shopping, Entertainment and others. You can use as many filters as you want or you can just click the Date Menu (default is “Anytime”) and choose “Past Six Months” for example.
Once you have chosen the Website you prefer, just add that to your Favorites or even better to your browsers Favorites Bar as we discussed in a previous column. Now whenever you need to search for a current (or previous date range) you can just click on the favorite button and go directly to “Spific” for example.
Next time my young questioner needs a current events article, he can go to www.spific.com and click the “Past Week” or “Past Month” drop down menu and find appropriate Web pages that will help him return to good graces with his teachers.
Give Spific Search a try and till next week, send your questions to: