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the god Pan

Each week the god Pan, Arcadian Lord of the flocks and pastures, answers your questions about computers and the Internet.

Dear Pan,
How come whenever I use a search engine to find out something on the Internet, the answer is never in the first few pages I look at?
Paul Istofsites

Dear Paul,

Those first few pages are known in the trade as web-froth. When you buy a pint of beer, you find it perfectly natural that what rises to the top is light and insubstantial, and the same applies to Internet searches.

The froth on a beer is there to protect the publican's profit margin. It saves on the amount of beer that has to be served, and over the years customers have been trained to expect this, and even demand it if it isn't there.

Web search engines also have to make a living, and if they returned good results straight away, you wouldn't get to see lots of their beautiful adverts and they'd soon go broke. So next time you use Ask Jeeves, and you wonder why nothing useful has turned up on the first three pages, just try to see things from the search engine's point of view.

More Pan on the Foxglove Home page.

Send your questions to Pan at ajs@foxglove.co.uk


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