The folks at Dulcinea sent me an e-mail about SweetSearch, a custom search engine designed for students. This is a custom search engine that’s had a bunch of work put into it — it searches 35,000 sites! Designed for students, SweetSearch is populated with sites that the Dulcinea team found credible and useful. You can try it out at http://www.sweetsearch.com/.
For a site like this I always roll out the Strawberry Shortcake test. Dulcinea passed that with flying colors, with lots of recipes, a couple of media mentions of the cartoon character, and some software reviews. I did notice that one of the results came from Wal-Mart, and wondered if there was some kind of switch to remove e-commerce oriented sites from searches. That would be useful.
For famous people research, I tried a search for Albert Einstein. The first page of SweetSearch’s result includes pages from PBS.org, LOC.gov, Nobelprize.org, and Time.com. However, when doing a similar search on Google, I noticed that the SweetSearch results did not includes pages from Albert-Einstein.org or from Wikipedia/Wikiquote.
One could make the argument that Wikipedia should not be included as it is editable by anyone and therefore less credible. However I would have liked to see results from more controlled resources like Google Books and Google Timeline.
On the other hand, maybe it’s not useful to compare a pool of 35,000 sites with however many sites Google has — twelve gumptzillion or whatever it is. I think with SweetSearch I would use it as a) a beginning search to get an overview of what’s available or b) as a search engine when I’m doing a complicated or possibly-misunderstood search.
One thing SweetSearch offers that you won’t find many other places is a set of Web links, which you can find at http://www.sweetsearch.com/weblinks.html. These links are actually divided out into sections for high school, middle, and elementary teachers and students. Not a huge number of links for each section but they’re divided into categories and well described.
If you’re looking for a search engine to help a kid with his or her homework, SweetSearch will do the trick. But you will want to keep an eye out for ecommerce results, and you may need to take some of what you learned from a SweetSearch query and do some extra work on a more general search engine.