If you're a regular user of the site, you've probably noticed some recent changes -- we've updated the site's look and feel, with a new layout and new logo. At the same time, we've winnowed down the site more to the essentials. The emphasis is now more on the search engines and the news, while we've de-emphasized the links section. The links pages are still a valuable resource, but we stopped updating them long ago, since it was too much work for an essentially unpaid staff to maintain them. The search engines and the news headlines, though, are as current as always.
Did you ever try to use one of the general-interest search engines to look for good political or policy information? So did we, and we were consistently disappointed.
The results just didn't help much what we wanted was usually buried somewhere around site number 562, if it showed up anywhere at all. The web was just too broad for a general-purpose search engine every search turned up too much chaff and too little wheat. (Editor's note: true when we started the site, but less so now -- Google is tough to beat, though we try.)
What this bunch of frustrated web/political junkies needed was a targeted, non-partisan search engine just for politics and policy. So we built one.
Over several months, we gathered a list of websites, starting with ones we used ourselves. All had good content, and together they covered any political or policy topic we could think of from any point of view we could imagine. We started with only 2000 sites, no list of links and no other real features.
But what we had, worked better than we could have hoped: the search turned up a broad, rich range of information on any political subject, quickly, without a lot of extraneous, unrelated sites.
Over time, we pushed the number of sites in the search index to over 5000, added a constantly-updated search of several dozen authoritative political news sources, built a list of useful links (now 1500 and still growing) to supplement the searches, added news headlines, started an intermittent newsletter, and began licensing the search for use on other sites. In addition to Pol Info, we've moved into providing custom search engine solutions for political and nonpolitical as well.
The site has become a more and more useful entry point to the political web. I hope you enjoy it; please let us know what you think.
General Political/Policy Search. The core of the site. The search engine contains an index of the contents of over 5000 websites chosen for the quality of their content. The most recent re-indexing run included over 278,000 separate web documents.
We re-index the search every 2-3 weeks to keep the results current. You can imagine that this is a bit of a task running full-out on a fast server plugged into the equivalent of 20 T1 phone lines, it still takes at least a week to pull down all the pages for indexing.
Some other sites claim to have political search engines, but they're usually exaggerating a little bit. Most are just searching their own sites or a list of links to other sites (as our links search does). Only Pol Info (and our licensees) offer a search of the contents of the political web just like a Hotbot, Excite or AltaVista, except for politics and policy only.
This index is available for licensing on other sites. You can also download HTML code to allow your site users to search our databases using your site as a starting point.
Political News Search. A terrific way to get a capsule view of recent political news on any subject. To make it work, we run the search engine over a tightly-restricted list of pages the online political sections of several dozen authoritative news sources.
To keep the list current, we re-index it every two hours. The search is a powerful tool for any political professional or journalist trying to keep up with a particular issue or politician as well as great fun for any political junkie. My favorite thing to do with it: compare and contrast the angle that different news stories put on the same subject.
This index is also available for licensing on other sites. As well, you can download HTML code to allow your site users to search our databases using your site as a starting point.
Links/Sites-By-Category. (Note: we're no longer actively maintaining the links section; see the first section above for details.) A good supplement to the search, since it contains (currently) over 1700 sites arranged into roughly 220 categories. We started with a core of 800 or so; the remainder have been suggested by readers.
Unfortunately, it's been too popular: people have submitted more than we have time to review. But we're trying to catch up. If you suggested a site recently, have patience. We'll get to it. (Note: we never did -- sorry.)
One problem with having so many links in so many categories is that it can be hard to find what you're looking for. The solution: use the Links search, located below the list of links on the left-hand side of every page.test