Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google or Wikipedia - Which is Your First Stop?

Cliff posted about 8 years ago | from the depends-on-the-topic-but-google-still-the-king dept.


dwarfking asks: "Over the last several months I have noticed that more and more often, when I am searching for information on the web, I find myself starting at Wikipedia instead of Google. It used to be that the first hit on many of my Google searches linked to Wikipedia articles, so I started going there first. I've found that except for searching for current events, by starting with Wikipedia I get a good explanation of the topic of interest and the pages generally have links to other good resources that are right on topic (without the need to scroll through dozens of hits). Are others of you seeing similar shifts in your search usage and if so, do any of you think this could become a trend for the larger community? If so, then what could that potentially mean for Google?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Google wins (4, Informative)

crazyjeremy (857410) | about 8 years ago | (#16528377)

Although Wikipedia is certainly a top ranking search engine result for many subjects, it is certainly not an exhaustive resource. It's an encyclopedia. As such, I find that when I search google that sooner or later (usually 1 - 3 tries) I find keywords that give some sort of appropriate results. If I am searching for specific subjects that I know may be found in an encyclopedia, I start with google again and search " somesubject" or even "wikipedia somesubject". The latter search is because many people will have an informative page on their own website with more/different information than wikipedia, but they will reference wikipedia for some of their text.

Good question, but personally I still always start with google. Unless I'm simply in wikipedia research mode, then I can sit for hours in front of the thing going from one article to the next...

Re:Google still wins (4, Interesting)

mysticgoat (582871) | about 8 years ago | (#16528715)

Google is still the first place I go for most of my queries. However, I find myself going to Wikipedia first when I want an overview of a topic and I know I've got a good keyword to get to it. And often when I'm using Google, the first article I look at is the Wikipedia entry.

Where my usage has really changed is when my first choice of keywords for Google leads to too many wrong responses (too much verbiage about Paris Hilton when looking for hotels in Paris). When this happens I now often look for a Wikipedia article to scan for better keywords to feed to Google. This is a very slick way of quickly narrowing the scope of the search.

Google is incredible. Who would have guessed that searching with "30 mi + 10 km = ? leagues" would get an answer?

Re:Google still wins (1)

BlueCodeWarrior (638065) | about 8 years ago | (#16528841)

Google is incredible. Who would have guessed that searching with "30 mi + 10 km = ? leagues" would get an answer?

You can also phrase that as 30 miles plus 10 kilometers in leagues [] , if you'd like.

Oh, and ask it what the answer to life, the universe, and everything is ;).

Re:Google still wins (2, Funny)

Jack Pallance (998237) | about 8 years ago | (#16529063)

I prefer Google to find information on very specific searchs, like "Midget Wheelchair Porn". I look to Wikipedia for information on less specific searches, like "Porn", or "More Porn".

Actually, now that I think of it, I use for most of my searches...

Re:Google still wins (4, Informative)

SilentOneNCW (943611) | about 8 years ago | (#16529805)

Where my usage has really changed is when my first choice of keywords for Google leads to too many wrong responses (too much verbiage about Paris Hilton when looking for hotels in Paris). When this happens I now often look for a Wikipedia article to scan for better keywords to feed to Google. This is a very slick way of quickly narrowing the scope of the search.

Try searching for paris -hilton...

Ta-Dah! rt=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 []

Re:Google still wins (2, Insightful)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | about 8 years ago | (#16530339)

That won't get you all the hotels though - what about the Paris Hilton?

Re:Google wins (5, Insightful)

Mitaphane (96828) | about 8 years ago | (#16529029)

You're right. A lot people mistakenly think that the Wikipedia is a huge ball that encompasses every piece of human knowledge, it's not [] . It's an encyclopedia, albeit one that can covers topics traditionally considered too trivial for print standards. I made that mistake before I got big into editing for the Wikipedia. The Wikipedia covers a lot of information but there is some information that it isn't made for. Want to know where 123 Fake St. is at in your home town? Wikipedia won't help you. Want to know what movies are playing tonight? Wikipedia won't help you. Want to know, in detail, about the life of the president [] of an obscure African country? Wikipedia will help you, but not as much as it will help you know about every single, obscure, trivial detail of a fictional character's [] life.

Re:Google wins (3, Informative)

senatorpjt (709879) | about 8 years ago | (#16529243)

If the information you want is in wikipedia, it's far more pleasant than wading through all the irrelevant ads and garbage that come up on Google.

I'll use google if I want to buy something, or for specific sorts of preprogrammed searches, like Google Calculator, or tracking UPS packages, or if I already know something is on another site, and then include the site address in the search. Looking for anything general on Google is just asking for irritation.

Re:Google wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16529953)

Seychelles is obscure? I thought most people knew about it because it's an unbelievably beautiful tourist destination.

But your point is very valid, and funny in a sad way.

Re:Google wins (1)

Mitaphane (96828) | about 8 years ago | (#16530803)

Is it? I don't know, I just picked it as an example because of its small population. I'd still wager only a small fraction of people on the planet know about it.

Re:Google wins (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16530281)

A lot people mistakenly think that the Wikipedia is a huge ball that encompasses every piece of human knowledge, it's not. It's an encyclopedia,

Wait. Encyclo means all, and pedia means teaching, or knowledge, and yet you say it's not a ball of every piece of human knowledge, it's all knowledge?

Re:Google wins (1)

Mitaphane (96828) | about 8 years ago | (#16530779)

Well the emtymology of the word "encyclopedia" is close to that(see link) and that is close to the goal of an encyclopedia [] , but it is impossible to a have some master document/website/whatever that contains every human thought about every subject ever. At best you could say an encyclopedia covers the most important topics to humanity. The format of an encyclopedia is one that it summarizes important information and topics regarding a specific subject into a reasonable article. Example: an encyclopedic article on the English language wouldn't contain the entirety of words, grammar, slang, and usage of the English language, just a summary of it.

It depends (1)

Malfourmed (633699) | about 8 years ago | (#16530553)

I tend to use Wikipedia for "what is/who is?" type questions, and google for "how do I?" type questions.

Google (5, Insightful)

bconway (63464) | about 8 years ago | (#16528385)

If the Wikipedia entry is worthwhile (believe it or not, sometimes it isn't), it'll be listed first in your search. Best of both worlds.

Re:Google (1)

Chouonsoku (1009817) | about 8 years ago | (#16528391)

That's the same view I have on it. Wikipedia is good but Google searches tons of websites, Wikipedia included.

Re:Google (1)

bestinshow (985111) | about 8 years ago | (#16528427)

That's what I do too. All searches are on Google (usually by the browser search field rather than going to the site) and I'll check out the Wikipedia article if it appears, whilst also having the benefit of a full search to peruse as well.

Re:Google (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528447)

Sometimes I (seriously) write "wikipedia" followed by my search term. :) Hey, Google is on top right of my Firefox, not Wikipedia ... And two clicks to go to Wikipedia is too much for me ! Takes less time to write.

Re:Google (3, Informative)

DesireCampbell (923687) | about 8 years ago | (#16528547)

I use Wikipedia Lookup [] Firefox extension. No typing, one click.

Re:Google (4, Informative)

masklinn (823351) | about 8 years ago | (#16528597)

I've bound the Wikipedia search to the "wp" keyword in Firefox, ergo when I type "wp something", Firefox starts a wikipedia search for "something" (I've also bound Uncyclopedia to "up", but I use it slightly less often)

Re:Google (2, Interesting)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 8 years ago | (#16528809)

Same here.

g for google
gi for google images
gg for google groups
gm for google maps
w for wikipedia
y for yahoo
d for
i for imdb
amz for amazon
t for
The best thing about this system is you can get rid of the search box and reclaim some FF real estate

Re:Google (1)

Pendersempai (625351) | about 8 years ago | (#16529671)

I do something similar with LaunchBar and Safari, and I really recommend you set this one up:

L for Google I'm Feeling Lucky.

Skip the google page entirely and go straight to what you're looking for. You quickly get the hang of when to use it and when you might need to go a few search results down. Sometimes I even use it when I know the web address but don't feel like typing "www. ... .com." It's really fast and effective.

Re:Google (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#16530245)

Just putting the thing in the title bar automatically acts as "I'm Feeling Lucky" when you don't put in a URL. And you rarely use that with URLs.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16530505)

I imagine you will 'quickly get the hang of this' even quicker.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16531211)

I've bound the Wikipedia search to the "wp" keyword in Firefox, ergo when I type "wp something", Firefox starts a wikipedia search for "something"
I'm pretty sure that's a default QuickSearch.

Re:Google (4, Informative)

aymanh (892834) | about 8 years ago | (#16528641)

Create a keyword search for Wikipedia and you will be able to search it by directly typing your search terms in the location bar. Here is how to do it:
  1. Go to [] .
  2. Right-click in the search field, and select "Add a keyword for this search...".
  3. Enter a keyword for your search. Personally, I use "wp".
  4. That's it, now try it by typing "wp starcraft" into your location bar for example.
This feature isn't limited to Wikipedia by the way, and I believe a previous version of Firefox used to ship with several keyword searches by default, including Wikipedia.

Re:Google (1)

c_forq (924234) | about 8 years ago | (#16528769)

yeah, I was kind of ticked when I updated firefox and lost my dictionary keyword one. I believe they used to include imdb by default too. Both were super easy to add again, but it annoyed me that it previously just worked and they changed it so that I had to jump through hoops.

Re:Google (1)

psykocrime (61037) | about 8 years ago | (#16529189)

Another option:

1. Create a firefox bookmark for this url: g+%25s []

2. give it a keyword like 'gwp'

3. That's it, now try it by typing "gwp starcraft" into your location bar for example.

Same difference, just using Google to search Wikipedia.

Re:Google (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16529659)

A "wiki" command is already built into firefox IIRC. You can just type "wiki topic" in the address bar and it'll send you to wikipedia. Works for me anyway, using Firefox

Re:Google (1)

aymanh (892834) | about 8 years ago | (#16531201)

The default bookmarks.html for Firefox 1.5 [] contains a keyword search for Wikipedia, but if your profile is from the 0.x/1.x days, it won't contain this keyword search. The default list of keyword searches has been removed from Firefox 2.0 [] by the way, so a keyword search needs to be manually added to a fresh 2.0 profile.

Google... Sort of. (5, Funny)

Tyger (126248) | about 8 years ago | (#16528389)

I usually start with google and make sure I have the right spelling, then the appropriate Wikipedia article is one of the first links, so I click on that.

Re:Google... Sort of. (1)

scruffy (29773) | about 8 years ago | (#16529975)

Exactly. Use Google to get to Wikipedia.

I use Google... (1)

Shortgeek (971350) | about 8 years ago | (#16528397)

But only because it's in the search bar, and I use Google for non-learning-about-this stuff. If I want to learn about something, I search for "wiki blah blah" and click on the Wikipedia entry that just happens to be the first result.

It depends.. (5, Insightful)

Alicat1194 (970019) | about 8 years ago | (#16528411)

If I'm looking for information on a given concept or word, I go straight to Wikipedia. If I'm looking for more general or technical information on a subject, I go to Google.

To me it's not really an either/or situation, plus Wikipedia can be very lacking in some areas, especially current events or information about more specialised fields.

I'd say Wikipedia and Google are safe from each other (though leaning more towards Wikipedia, since Google often sends you there anyway).

Re:It depends.. (3, Insightful)

daranz (914716) | about 8 years ago | (#16528487)

I'd tend to agree. Wikipedia is great if you want basic information on a particular subject, and you know that google results are likely to contain a lot of noise (such as when searching for a name of a product, or a company).

On the other hand, Google is better for less precise search terms, such when you can't remember the origin of a movie quote, or some other reference, or when you're looking for something that can't fit under one title on wikipedia.

Re:It depends.. (4, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | about 8 years ago | (#16529533)

Aye. I've been trying to go back and improve ID3 tags on music I ripped long ago - adding original release dates for songs so I can organize music by release - especially hard for music I bought on compilation CDs that released much later.

Google's music search system is fantastic - but it doesn't carry enough information. I have to follow a link to a vendor site to get release information, or to find a larger picture of the album cover to save.

Wikipedia, however, has discography for almost every band, with detailed release information and usually a good-quality album cover. I've started using it first, and only going to Google when Wikipedia's article is missing or incomplete (which is rare).

Depends (2, Informative)

gellenburg (61212) | about 8 years ago | (#16528421)

Depends on what I'm searching for. If its something thats specialized then I start with Wikipedia. If its broad and general then I start with Google.

Although, I've got to admit, there's this extension for FireFox that embeds the Wikipedia entries into the Google search results page. I use it at work, and for the life of me I can't remember its name right now, but its awesome.

CustomizeGoogle (2, Informative)

kcbnac (854015) | about 8 years ago | (#16530193) [] [] []

I use it as well. It is WONDERFUL. (If you install it; check the options - TONS of hidden not-default-enabled options)

Wiki provides instant content... (2, Informative)

TeleoMan (529859) | about 8 years ago | (#16528435)

If I want deep-texture content on a particular subject (e.g., polynomial rings) I hit Wiki first. Boom. Instant content. Google will give links *to* the content...why take two steps?

Wikipedia! (2, Interesting)

Dieppe (668614) | about 8 years ago | (#16528437)

Me too! The nice thing is for any particular search topic, rather when you have a specific topic, the links that have been added at the bottom of the article are by helpful people (humans) adding those links. Don't get me wrong, I like Google, but the links are all automated. With Wikipedia I know I'm getting something that someone's at least personally looked at at least once and felt it was helpful for that subject.

So yeah... me too. :)

I would say (5, Insightful)

DarthChris (960471) | about 8 years ago | (#16528439)

This is a moot point.

I'm being serious. Google is supposed to tell you where to find what you're looking for, like the catalog computer in a library that tells you exactly which shelf to go to, whereas Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, an indiviual book in the library. Comparing the two is IMHO completely pointless.

Googlepædia (5, Informative)

AberBeta (851747) | about 8 years ago | (#16528449)

I do both at once!

With a Firefox extension called Googlepedia, I "Google" happily, and it'll include (if found) a relevant Wikipedia page to the side of the search results.

Re:Googlepædia LINK (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528633)

Googlepedia link []

Holy Geekwar Batman! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528455)

tag this one vi.or.emacs :)

Wikipedia... (1)

DirtyHerring (635192) | about 8 years ago | (#16528463)

...when it seems appropriate. But more often than not it does.

Google (3, Informative)

neonstz (79215) | about 8 years ago | (#16528475)

I always use google for searching, but often I add wikipedia to my search query to get the wikipedia article. I find it faster than using the wikipedia search.

Re:Google (2, Informative)

Robotech_Master (14247) | about 8 years ago | (#16528497)

I'll actually often just type'm_loo king_for [] as it's faster than searching Google or Wikipedia. :)

Re:Google (1)

r3m0t (626466) | about 8 years ago | (#16528583)

(If you use firefox) How is "(ctrl-n) alt-d tab pie" quicker than "(ctrl-n) alt-d [] "?

Re:Google (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | about 8 years ago | (#16528651)

I type 115 words per minute, so typing out the search phrase is, for me, faster than lifting my hands from the keyboard to hit the control chords. :)

Re:Google (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | about 8 years ago | (#16528659)

Well, that and the fact that this way I only have to wait for one page to load, rather than waiting for the results to load and then the Wikipedia page. I'm impatient.

Re:Google (1)

epl (140556) | about 8 years ago | (#16528973)

Are you saying your still not using tabs? (ctrl-t)

Re:Google (1)

jZnat (793348) | about 8 years ago | (#16529089)

How about "C-K foo bar"? Just have Wikipedia as the default search engine and bam.

Re:Google (1) (782137) | about 8 years ago | (#16529849)

Or just "wp articlename" in the address bar.

I think Debian and Ubuntu's builds of Firefox strip that out, though.

Google.. (2, Insightful)

PyrotekNX (548525) | about 8 years ago | (#16528477)

I still use Google for my initial searches. I have been noticing that the hits I get are becoming less relavant as time goes on. This is obviously because sponsored links are constantly bringing up irrelavant hits. I don't consider Wikipedia as a traditional search engine so its not going to be able to replace Google. Both still have their usefulness in different ways. Until I get fed up woth my current searching strategy, Google will be my first choice.

Wow... (1)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#16528489)

So Google is now turning to Slashdot for marketing research?! I can hear the stock price starting to slip into oblivion...

Firefox extension: Googlepedia (2, Informative)

l_smieth (1016437) | about 8 years ago | (#16528491) [] Googlepedia

It depends on the question (3, Interesting)

richg74 (650636) | about 8 years ago | (#16528493)

I use both Google and Wikipedia a lot, and which I use first depends on what I'm looking for; or, to put it another way, how well I understand what it is I'm looking for.

For example, if I want to find information about "Maxwell's Equations" or "Plate Tectonics", I'd probably go to Wikipedia first, because I'm pretty sure I know what I want. Even if the Wikipedia entry itself doesn't contain the information I'm seeking, it probably has a link to someplace that does. On the other hand, if I'm looking for information about something less clearly defined, of less general interest, or subject to frequent change, like "Linux printer drivers" perhaps, then Google is the way to go. (To complete the idea of a spectrum of resources: if I wanted a driver for an HP printer, I'd obviously go directly to HP's site.)

I don't think your observation portends any great shift away from Google, since I suspect that most queries made by most people fall into the second category.

Same here (1)

bencvt (686040) | about 8 years ago | (#16530891)

Put another way: Google == broad, Wikipedia == deep.

Google is your shotgun, Wikipedia is your rifle.

Re:It depends on the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16531111)

me too

Neither (5, Interesting)

acvh (120205) | about 8 years ago | (#16528501)

I switched to for searches about six months ago. Their first results page generally contains:

First: either a WIkipedia link or a link to the "official" site, depending on what you searched for. Ask is good at identifying the nature of the search.
Second: about 10 relevant links, with no junk, no ad site, no sales sites.

The downside is that Ask's advertising links are rather obtrusive; they put them at the top and bottom of the page, with a subtly different background color.

My switch from Google was based on a combination of performance and politics: I don't really miss it.

Astroturfing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16530609)

I'm sure you and the twelve other users like it very much.

Me, I use Excite!

Wikipedia first, but not last (2, Informative)

DesireCampbell (923687) | about 8 years ago | (#16528509)

I usually check Wikipedia first. Usually has whatever information I need, reviewed by hundreds (if not thousands) of people, and relevant links and references. But, I also always check the 'Talk Page' to see if any information is being disputed, or if there have been bouts of vandalism. Sometimes I'll try search Google for "wiki [subject]" to see if there's a wiki for that topic specifically, but often such specificity is not necessary - and if such a wiki exists it's usually referenced in the Wikipedia entry as well. If I see anything that appears out-of-order, or if my questions about the topic aren't answered fully, I always turn to Google.

So, while Wikipedia is my first stop, it's rarely my final stop.

That depends... (1)

jtobin (988724) | about 8 years ago | (#16528513)

It completely depends on what I'm looking for. To quickly get the definition of a word, "define: foobar" in Firefox's search box is about as fast as you can get. If I'm looking for some application's project page, again Google. Generally, if I'm looking for some small piece of information, Google can be much faster than sifting through lengthy Wikipedia articles for one particular definition or link.

However, if I'm looking for information on a well-defined subject, or a short biography, Wikipedia works best. Sure, some of the information isn't completely accurate, but it's not like I'm using the information for anything mission critical. I think that it's important to keep in mind that Google is a search engine and Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, which serve two different purposes. Before Wikipedia, online encyclopedias weren't very well known, and so people generally used a search engine for both. Nowadays that seems to be changing - Wikipedia for a synopsis on a topic, Google to find a more authoritative source.

Easy! (2, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about 8 years ago | (#16528535)

Wikipedia for a quick answer, but Google for the right answer!

Google, because wikipedia editors have god complex (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528549)

I prefer to use google to look, and wikipedia as a minor reference. The reason is that wikipedia authors have this habit of deleting useful content in the name of "unencyclopedic", and "not notable" using alexa.

If it's not in wikipedia, then I assume that it was deleted for stupid reasons, and thus why I use google first.

When possible, I go straight to the source though.

Depends on why I'm looking (1)

Asmor (775910) | about 8 years ago | (#16528611)

If I just want to find out what something is and I've got a pretty good idea of what to search for, I go to Wikipedia.

But for pretty much everything else, I use google. Wikipedia is a great resource for finding out about specific things, but that's only a small percentage of what I need to find online. For example, at work a while back we were having power issues with a recently upgraded room (a computer lab, previously filled with laptops and now filled with desktops, plus there were more systems than before put in as well), so I had to go online and try to find out what the energy draw was on everything in that room. That's not something Wikipedia could have helped me with.

For things that I *need* to find out, it's almost invariably google I turn to because in most cases like that google suits my needs better than Wikipedia. For things I'm just curious about, I'd say it's probably split 50/50.

Neither (3, Funny)

wetfeetl33t (935949) | about 8 years ago | (#16528629)

I usually just write to Ann Landers

Re:Neither (2, Funny)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | about 8 years ago | (#16528869)

If every Slashdot reader sent a piece of snail mail to her, could you "Slashdot" Ann Landers?


Google (1)

WML MUNSON (895262) | about 8 years ago | (#16528645)

Google usually just ends up leading me to Wikipedia.

That said, Google wins with me because Google offers me the opportunity of finding forums (such as this) that cover topics instead of just the related Wikipedia article. If I've got a problem or question, I value the process of getting to the solution or answer just as much as I value the solution or answer itself.

Also, if you're looking at this question purely from a "which is a better homepage" standpoint, Google wins hands down for versatility.

Re:Google (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | about 8 years ago | (#16529311)

Usually, I find a forum where the question is asked, but nobody answers. All I've determined is that someone else doesn't know either, and it's a waste of time.

to each their own (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | about 8 years ago | (#16528707)

Like most respondents I use each as the information is suited to it. I still haven't seen a nice and succinct description of the difference and I find it hard to articulate off the cuff.

Anyway, I changed my Firefox Location Bar keywords (Quicksearches) to make each easy:

name: Google Quicksearch
location: s []
keyword: g
description: Type "g " in the address bar to perform a Google search

location: =%25s []
keyword: w
description: Type "w " in the address bar to perform a Wikipedia lookup

It depends, but mostly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528741)

Mostly I start with Google. If I'm looking for information on a person, place, or event, it's generally Wikipedia (you know... anything one would look up in an encyclopedia).

But if the search is to determine whether something is true or not, I usually start at Snopes.

dept. (1)

nerdwithagun (933639) | about 8 years ago | (#16528757)

from the commenting-is-for-mortals dept.
from the depends-on-the-topic-but-google-still-the-king dept.

Both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528761) ${SEARCH_TERM}

Do I win a special prize?

reference mode:; others: google (4, Informative)

Bad Boy Marty (15944) | about 8 years ago | (#16528783)

If I want some sort of traditional reference material, the first best stop for me is [] .

If I'm looking for almost anything else, I go directly to [] .

Comfort level (1)

Hahnsoo (976162) | about 8 years ago | (#16528805)

For me, it depends on my comfort level on the subject matter. If I know nothing or very little about a subject, I tend to start at Wikipedia first, so that I can get a general overview on the subject. If I know a lot about the subject and just would like more details, typically I can get the information faster through a search engine of my choice (not necessarily Google... PubMed and other resources, too).

I also tend to take Wikipedia's entries with a grain of salt. It just tells me what a bunch of people on the Internet knows about the subject, and the question of whether it is right or wrong or laced with hidden agendas is up in the air. The discussion pages on Wikipedia tend to be useful, if there has been a good debate, but I always assume that some crazy nut with an agenda has been through and "sanitized" the article for his/her own tastes.

My way of doing it (1)

eebra82 (907996) | about 8 years ago | (#16528871)

I've actaully learned to use the search function in Firefox, which instantly goes for Google searches.

Here's the thing though. When I want Wikipedia, I don't go to Wikipedia. Instead, I search for "topic wikipedia" which always results in Google content, plus direct links to the Wikipedia article. That way, I can tab-open the Wikipedia article and simultaneously browse Google.

Clever, huh?

Google (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | about 8 years ago | (#16528877)

When I want to search, I use Google. Wikipedia is not a search engine.

If I want an encyclopedia article on a specific topic, I use Wikipedia.

If I want to search Wikipedia, I use Google (Wikipedia's search function sucks).

I've found that except for searching for current events, by starting with Wikipedia I get a good explanation of the topic of interest and the pages generally have links to other good resources that are right on topic (without the need to scroll through dozens of hits).

Interestingly, if I want to find out about a current event, I often find myself using Wikipedia, as it tends to provide an aggregate of many different news accounts. Google News works too, but one big problem with using Google News is you tend to get lots and lots of stories that are either identical or based on the same source (such as an AP report).

Wikipedia Google for information (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16528943)

The problem with Google these days, is if you search for ANYTHING that can be purchased, almost all of the hit results will be for places selling that thing with a handful of actually relevent hits randomly stewn in between.

I was searching for data on "USB Mass Storage support in Windows 98" - That was a mistake; Pretty much ALL the hits were for the selling ofr USB Flash drives, with a couple of informational hits, which had nothing to do with Win98.

Google's search quality was extremely good when it first came out, esp. compared to its primary rivals at the time (Altavista/Yahoo), but as it's risen to the top, it's basically been hacked.
The search quality is now as bad as Yahoo and Altavista's used to be, when they were the premiere search engines in the old Modem-days.

IMHO, all sales-related hits should be shucked into Froogle; That alone would clear up the search results substantially.

MOD parent up (1)

zen-theorist (930637) | about 8 years ago | (#16530677)

bang on target on google

Re:Wikipedia Google for information (1)

modeless (978411) | about 8 years ago | (#16530797)

What I hate the most is attempting to search for free software for a particular task (not knowing the name of the free software in advance). The links are always spammed up with crappy $29.95 shareware programs instead of the high-quality free alternative that you know exists somewhere.

For example, try a Google search for "Palm dictionary". Adding things like "+free -buy -shareware" doesn't really help. In my case, I happened to know that WordNet was a good keyword to add to the search and eventually found this [] . But back in the day, before Google spam, that site would have been Google's first hit for "palm dictionary". My mom, never having heard of WordNet, was almost ready to buy a shareware dictionary since that was all she could find.

I use the right one for my search (2, Insightful)

objekt (232270) | about 8 years ago | (#16528945)

If I want to know the cast of a movie, I use IMDB.
If I want to see older versions of a web page, I use the wayback machine at
If I want a quick summary of a single subject, I use wikipedia
If I need to know the name of a song from a few lyrical fragments, I use google.

Google is a search engine for most of the web so if I HAD to limit myself to one starting place, it would be google. Or dogpile :D

open directory, page rank (0)

bcrowell (177657) | about 8 years ago | (#16528959)

The combination of google and wikipedia has sort of done what Netscape Open Directory [] was trying to do 10 years ago. Open Directory still exists, but it's kind of fallen by the wayside. In fact, their server doesn't even seem to be up right now, but you can still read the wikipedia article :-) [] .

In any actual implementation of google's page rank algorithm, you need to start by seeding it with some set of pages, and then it can spread out from there. Theoretically it doesn't matter what seed you start with, as long as the web is one topologically connected piece. But in reality, it's going to converge a lot faster, and be more reliable, if you start with something that's a good seed, and IIRC open directory was one of the seeds they did originally start with. Regardless of how google actually implements the algorithm today, the stability and convergence of the page rank algorithm is probably aided a lot by having a "backbone" like Wikipedia in the structure of the web.

The problem with Open Directory, in my experience working on it, was that it wasn't fun. It was just kind of a boring task you had to take care of every week. They also had a very hierarchical system of editors, and some of the editors higher up in the chain tended to be pushy, impatient, and arrogant. Wikipedia has done a better job of focusing on fun, and making everybody feel equal, so they've succeeded in harnessing a lot more dogs to pull their sled.

However, link spam has become a big battleground on Wikipedia as well. On the most important articles, there tend to be plenty of people who are keeping an eye on the external links, and if someone adds an inappropriate one, they'll delete it right away. But on less significant articles, there tends to be a ton of link spam, which nobody ever deletes.

Re:open directory, page rank (1)

sdnoob (917382) | about 8 years ago | (#16529321)

Open Directory still exists, but it's kind of fallen by the wayside

perhaps google is to blame here. they removed "directory" from above the search box a couple years ago... [] pretty much sums it up.

it's not even in the new "more" tab where they've hidden groups & froogle now. ... which is why i use [] instead... web/images/groups/directory -- the four google searches i use the most, all one click away from each other.

i use the wiki though too, and it's the first place i go when i know there'll be (or SHOULD be) an article on something. it's even starting to become a useful reference for the really important things in life, such as LOST episode summaries...

DMOZ was betrayed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16530563)

DMOZ/ODP was betrayed from the top. First there was SKRenta's Topix link spammage. Then someone added "Gambling" to the front page itelf, and stuck gambling links on every subject that could conceivably be gambled on. Similarly, someone stuck GLBT (Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Tranny) links on every conceivable subject that concerned people, just in case someone might be GLBT. There was no way Google could emphasize this directory from its front page anymore just before they were about to do their IPO. No better way to scare off investors!

Google Wikipedia (1)

Balthisar (649688) | about 8 years ago | (#16528963)

If I'm looking for something I know I want in Wikipedia, well, I just type "wikipedia dinosaurs" (or whatever) into the Google search box. First result usually takes me to the Wikipedia page I want.

That's an easy one! (1)

scronline (829910) | about 8 years ago | (#16529095)

Since I don't use Google at all (I use search engines that don't fall prey to blackhat tactics as easy) and I use Wikipedia on a daily basis, I would have to say that Wikipedia is the one I go to first.

Google's still first, but... (1)

psykocrime (61037) | about 8 years ago | (#16529119)

Google is still my first stop for many things, but for a LOT of queries I do, it's google with '' as
part of the query. And more and more often I find myself typing in o_Know_About []

I would definitely say that my search habits are shifting in a gradual fashion, towards using wikipedia more and more. But Wikipedia
hasn't replaced Google, they kinda supplement each other.

Wikipedia for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16529153)

Wikipedia for the win!

Neither ? (1)

value_added (719364) | about 8 years ago | (#16529225)

When looking for technical information, my experience has been that searches on Google will typically yield mailing list emails harvested by any number of websites. Similarly, Google Groups searches mostly yield usenet posts harvested by Google. To save myself the grief, I just subscribe to the mailing list (or newsgroup) in question and find the information myself. Faster, cleaner (regex searches) and easier. If I haven't yet subscribed to the mailing list in question, I'll just suck down as much history as I need from gmane, or simply browse through past posts directly on their server. I think the same can be said for a large portion of other types of searches (porn included). YMMV.

Wikipedia is a different animal, I think. The articles are extensively cross-referenced, so searching (past getting to the first article) is mostly peripheral.

FWIW, reading the content of mail archives (as well as usenet archives) is a delight using mutt. Similarly, using a text-based interface (lynx, elinks, w3m, etc) when reading through Wikipedia (and/or saving articles to disk) can also be ideal.

Neither? (2, Insightful)

AlXtreme (223728) | about 8 years ago | (#16529417)

I've been using Clusty [] for the last 18 months. A meta-searchengine combined with a Wikipedia-search, the best of both worlds!

Google for wikipedia (1)

barkholt (881649) | about 8 years ago | (#16529915)

I usually google for the wikipedia entry. ie, search strings like: wikipedia hamster sex

They both suck, but (-1, Troll)

nagora (177841) | about 8 years ago | (#16529983)

Google anyway. PageRank worked for about a year until people got the hang of rigging it and now Google is pretty shit. Meanwhile Wikipedia was a stupid idea from the start and never got any better. Stiil, it's handy if you want to know something trivial and a quick answer is more important than a reliable one.

The current worthlessness of Google is shown by the frequency of Wikipedia in its first page of results.

What does it mean for Wikipedia? (1)

Spazmania (174582) | about 8 years ago | (#16530013)

Are others of you seeing similar shifts in your search usage and if so, [...] what could that potentially mean for Google?"

What it could mean for google is obvious but a more interesting question is: what could it mean for Wikipedia? What happens when the "search rankings" industry decides that being well-linked from Wikipedia is important too?

general versus specific (1)

Jeff85 (710722) | about 8 years ago | (#16530103)

If I want to know general information about a certain topic, I can look it up on wikipedia for an overview of info, but if I'm looking to learn how to do something specific, say how to solve a technical problem, then google is the only choice.

actually, I use both (1)

NaeRey (944457) | about 8 years ago | (#16530139)

Since I really dislike how the WikipediaSearch works (the one usable with FireFox), I just use google (FireFox) and type 'define:word' 90% it turns up something from wikipedia, which I will read (no need to go to wikipedia, it shows the definition there). And if I want something else I just type.... 'wikipedia somethingelse' It's a win-win, no?

Wikipedia search is often broken... (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | about 8 years ago | (#16530813)

So I end up using Google one way or another. I almost always end up with Wikipedia returning a search error and asking me if I wasnt to use Google to search for what I'm looking for.

I concur, sorta (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | about 8 years ago | (#16531015)

I concur. However, I find Wiki's searching to be a little lame as compared to google, so I end up just doing a google search for what I want, and also stick "wiki" or "wikipedia" as a search term, too, and usually the first result is the wikipedia article. Works like a charm almost all of the time. (And sometimes, you end up stumbling across non-wikipedia but specialized wikis for the topic at hand, which isn't a bad thing :)

Search google for wikipedia articles (1)

daybot (911557) | about 8 years ago | (#16531103)

Er... I find Wikipedia's search to be pretty rubbish, so in my FireFox address bar I type "google wikipedia (searchquery)"

It depends... (1)

jonadab (583620) | about 8 years ago | (#16531219)

For some types of information, I go straight to Wikipedia, yes. For instance, the other day I got tired of seeing the word "bracken" in fantasy books and only knowing that it's a type of undergrowth, so I looked it up in Wikipedia. ("Oh, those. I always just called them big ferns.") It's a great one-stop-shop for that sort of thing. It's also fantastic for geography, especially historical geography of the sort you can't easily find on mapping services (e.g., if you want to know exactly where Phrygia was).

On the other hand, if I just want to find a certain website (e.g., let's say I want to try out the Flock web browser, or I can't remember the URI for Improv Everywhere), I would use Google for that. If I am getting a particular error message and want to know the cause of it (e.g., when I was trying to do a portupgrade a while back and couldn't get Gnome to recompile properly), I use Google. If I want to see what sorts of things people are saying about a certain topic, I use Google.

And there are other things I go to other sources for. If I want to know what spices to put in borsch, I would head straight for on Google groups. If I want a module that implements a certain file format or protocol, will tell me what I want to know. If I want to get an acronym expanded, I use

So basically it depends on what I want to know.

Hybrid (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 8 years ago | (#16531331)

My google searches usually start with "Noun Wikipedia" :)
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?