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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Avoiding Internet litter is possible with savvy searches

The Web is becoming littered with old and irrelevant information, but savvy searchers can cut through the clutter, said Michael Hites, vice provost for communications technologies at New Mexico State University.

ternet is designed to freely distribute useful information to a wide variety of people, but so many people have neglected sites for so long that the Web is littered with useless information," Hites said. "It's a decade-old problem. As soon as people started playing with Web technologies, they just kept building new sites - never taking the old stuff down. It litters the Internet with things that are relevant to either a few people or no people at all and that's what clogs up searches."

NMSU Webmaster Richard Chavez recommends using multiple key words during searches. "Be as specific as possible, the more key words you use the better your search results will be," Chavez said.

Hites and Chavez also recommended using search engines that allow users to specify a freshness date.

"Many of the search engines are refining to include the opportunity to specify a freshness date, so people can request sites that have been recently updated," Hites said.

Patience is also a key to finding information on the Web, he said. Hites suggested getting assistance from professionals, such as librarians.

"Librarians can help you find information on the Web," he said. "They have had to modify their own industry to deal with the Internet."

Chavez said people working with Web technologies recognize the problems associated with Internet litter and are working on solutions.

"Webmasters are moving towards content or database management for Web sites, which can lead to better indexing for search purposes," Chavez said.

In response to user concerns, New Mexico State's search engine recently was changed to improve the success of searches on the university's Web site.

"The change was made because of customer requests. We are always in the mode of trying to refine and improve the university's site to make it more user friendly," Hites said.

He said the best way to decrease litter on the Web is to not neglect your own pages.

"Make a policy that the data is checked every so often," Hites said.