web search in AltaVista

Rousseau Ronald ronald.rousseau at KH.KHBO.BE
Mon Feb 26 02:21:55 EST 2001

Dear colleagues,

I would like to mention another caveat when doing web searches. This time in
AltaVista advanced search. In this mode it is possible to specify 'one result
per website'. Intuitively one now expects a smaller number of hits then without
this specification. This is often the case, but when doing a search using the
keyword 'peseta' (and this is just one example) one obtains almost four times
more hits with 'one result per website' on than without it. This huge
difference is certainly not caused by the fact that AltaVista's counts are not
precise. Consequently I asked AltaVista's Technical Support Team. This is their

"When you do a particular keyword search, the spider brings up only those
pages which are relevant to that keyword. However, when you specify only
one result per website, the spider will pull up all the pages in the
index with that keyword. This is the reason to obtain more results when
you restrict the search of a generic keyword to one result per site."

Besides the fact that this is something one must know when performing
informetric investigations, there is the word 'relevant' in the answer. So,
AltaVista decides (how?) which sites are relevant for you and which are not.

Ronald Rousseau
KHBO - Zeedijk 101
B-8400  Oostende  Belgium
E-mail:  ronald.rousseau at kh.khbo.be
web page:  users.pandora.be/ronald.rousseau

More information about the SIGMETRICS mailing list