Blog search: Regator

Ashley Griesshammer

Introduction

Regator is a blog directory and search engine. It allows users to find, share, and read quality posts coming from hand-selected blogs. The search engine can be found here: www.regator.com. For a bit of history, Regator went live in 2008 and was named one of the top 100 web products of 2009 by ReadWriteWeb, and currently includes over 500 specialized topics. Regator and other blog search engines can provide good insight from experts and specialists on a variety of topics. Unique to Regator, the blogs that are allowed on their site are individually selected by their staff; this means the quality of posts you will find on Regator will likely be better than results on another blog search engine because the blogs are closely monitored. Of all blogs that are nominated for inclusion to the site, about 18% are accepted. Regator and other blog search tools provide a large amount of information to searchers. If you are interested in a topic, it’s more than likely that someone else in the world is as well, and there’s probably a blog for it. Blog information can be both academic and factual as well as purely for entertainment purposes; the topic and type of information you want will determine which blogs/types of blogs you use.

Any individual with a computer and an interest in a topic can write a blog. This is both a good and bad thing. Someone who is very knowledgeable on a topic but may not be a professor or recognized scholar can post valuable information to the web; at the same time, it’s important to carefully screen facts on blogs since blogs are not monitored for accurate information. As an informed user of search tools, you should be wary of trusting the information you find in blogs. But when used in the right context, blog information can be beneficial. Since the blogs featured on Regator are hand-picked by their staff, these blogs are likely more trustworthy than those you may find on another site.

Blog search tools offer an easy way to access blogs and find blogs related to your interests. Many of the sites (including Regator) allow you to browse for blogs by topic, as well as having a traditional search bar where the user can type in their own query. Many of these sites also allow you to set up an account that lets you customize search topics, interests, etc. In addition to Regator, other blog search sites include Google Blog Search, Technorati, and IceRocket.

Specialized search strategies

Blog searches can be very helpful when used appropriately. All of the blog search sites function like a typical search engine, like Google. You type in your query, and it retrieves relevant blog posts. The main thing to be concerned about with blog search is the type of information you are looking for, and if a blog is an appropriate resource. If you are looking for the latest fall fashion trends, a blog search would probably be excellent for that type of information. Since it’s not really a factual piece of information, and fashion is more of an interest than an academic subject, you would probably receive some really great blogs and blog posts. However, if you are trying to learn how to calculate the return on a bond investment, a blog search probably is not the most effective way to solve the problem. You would be better served using a more academic search or a computational search engine, like Wolfram Alpha. It’s very possible that there could be a finance blog that contains the information you need, but it would most likely be simpler and faster to use a different type of search engine. Blogs are great for finding information on interests and opinions, but not so great for finding factual information.

Good Blog Search Topics: Healthy eating recipes, holiday craft ideas, fantasy football

Bad Blog Search Topics: History of the SEC, 1-year return on Apple stock, calculating mass of the sun

In addition, it’s important to remember than blogs can be authored by anyone. You can appropriately trust the information you find in an academic journal or at a reputable news source like The New York Times, but it is imperative to be critical of blog sources. If your blog search is purely for your entertainment and interests, you probably don’t need to worry about this. However, if you are using blogs as a resource for an academic project or other fact-based endeavor, ensure that the blog includes links/citations for you to fact-check the information you find.

Regator Fall Fashion Search

Regator Bond Calculation Search

Wolfram Alpha Bond Calculation Search

 

Instructions

How to use

Regator is not difficult to use. It functions in a very similar way to Google. Simply type your query into the search box, and press enter. You are also able to refine your results in a similar fashion to most web searches like Google and Bing. Regator differs slightly in that you can filter by topic, specific blog, and type of content.

Regator also allows you to browse topics, something that you cannot do on Google or Google Blogs. These topics include things like entertainment, health, industries, books, etc. From within those topics, you can narrow your browsing even further. If you started browsing in Industries, and narrowed down to Retail, you could find some very good results. While general in nature, these results were just as good and informative as results given by a specific query. Regator also gives very timely results, with many posts in the last few hours or days. Since they are constantly updating content and browsing the web, Regator can post new results in a matter of minutes.

Industry Browse

 

Comparison with Google Web search

Regator and Google may both be search engines, but they are different. Most people know and love Google, and the vast majority of everyday internet users probably haven’t even heard of Regator. Google is great for quick searches every day; for example, finding the closest grocery store or looking up the score of last week’s Monday Night Football game. Regator shouldn’t be used for those types of queries, even though you might be able to find the answer. Since Regator is a blog search, your results are obviously blogs, whereas a regular Google search will give you mostly normal web sites. Google does have a blog search, although its filters and ability to browse topics doesn’t match up to Regator (see below for an image of Regator’s filters).

The best way to demonstrate Regator’s abilities against Google is through an example. A quick Google web search of “Broadway musicals” brings me to several sites that might be desirable: Broadway tickets at Ticketmaster, broadway.com, and the Broadway entry at Wikipedia. But let’s say you’re a user that’s not searching for Broadway tickets or basic Broadway knowledge; since you’re a Broadway enthusiast, you want to read others’ reviews on recent shows and get some recommendations. Google web search isn’t bad, but a blog search would be better equipped for this, since many other people attend Broadway shows and enjoy the theater world.

Google Search

Doing a Google Blog search for “Broadway musicals” gives you better results. Headlines like “How the Mega-Sized Off-Broadway Musical Giant Dives Deep Into the Heart of Texas” and “Top Ten Creepy Broadway Musicals” come up as results, much more interesting than ticket sales. But since Google Blogs is only one arm of Google, and not Google’s specialty, its capabilities don’t quite measure up to Regator. Google Blogs offers no way to easily refine your search, and even when clicking on available search tools, the user can only refine by time of post, and re-sort by post date. Searching in Regator, headlines like “‘Book of Mormon’ announces Chicago cast, including James Vincent Meredith” and “Review: Kinky Boots (Broadway in Chicago)” appear, much closer to your desired results.

Google Blogs “Refine” Results

Regator Results

In addition to better results, Regator helps the user to refine results based on type of post, date, topic, and specific blog title. These tools allow you to narrow down the exact topic you want, look for only reputable blogs, or look for posts within a certain time frame giving you more targeted results.

Regator Refine Results

To demonstrate these filters, let’s say you were to search for “holiday decorations” on Regator; your results would look like the photo below. The results do pertain to holiday decorations, but maybe you were looking to get some ideas for decorating your own home this holiday season.

Unfiltered Holiday Decorations Results

So instead of browsing through pages of posts, you apply a filter – “Lifestyle / House and Home.” Now, you get results like the ones below. These posts offer some good ideas for decorating this holiday season, and come from a popular blog, “Apartment Therapy.”

Refined Holiday Decorations Results

How to get the most out of it

Refining your results using the specifications described above will help to improve your search process on Regator. But creating an account at Regator makes the blog search process so much better. Obviously you can still do any search any time you want to, but creating an account lets you monitor the things you are frequently looking for without repeating the search over and over. Regator offers a setup wizard to help you do this.

When you sign up for an account, the first thing it asks you to do is type in some things you’re interested in. Let’s say you choose Broadway, tennis, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Next, Regator asks you to set up your favorite topics based on the keywords you just entered. It gives you options of topics it has, and you select what you might be interested in. You select NFL and Sports-Tennis. Then Regator asks you to choose some favorite blogs that it suggests for you. These tend to be popular blogs, but if you’re not a huge blogger and haven’t heard of any of them, you can proceed without selecting any. Finally, you choose keywords to monitor. You choose words like “Roger Federer” and “Andy Murray.”

Initial Set-Up Wizard Screen

After completing this set-up process, the “Monitor” tab at the top of the site curates blogs related to the keywords you chose. The “Favorites” tab compiles the blogs you have favorited. Setting up an account at Regator will help you use the site more efficiently and avoid repeated searches.

Monitor Tab

Regator Extras

In addition to its regular website, Regator also offers a “Breaking News” app for journalists and bloggers that determines the importance of events as they occur and informs the user. This subscription app was launched in June 2011. The journalist/blogger can then spend more time writing about the topic rather than searching for it. The app has regularly broken news in advance of outlets like CNN (by 20 minutes), foxnews.com (by 8 minutes), and Twitter trends. The app works with Apple, Microsoft, and Linux, and uses a variety of algorithms to analyze social media and prioritize breaking news above normal activity. Regator also has an iPhone app that was named as one of the top 10 iPhone apps of 2009.

Recommendation

Regator is a very useful tool and can produce the same quality results as a Google search. While you should still being wary and cautious of blog search information and results, the type of information found in blogs can be helpful in the planning stages of a project or when looking for creative ideas. While it’s true that blogs can be written by anyone and facts should be verified, the beauty in their information is also that they are written by anyone, and many viewpoints can be heard. Regator has an easy user interface and allows you to narrow your specific searches as well as browse any topic when you’re not looking for anything specific. The tool should be used with caution, but is also an excellent web search resource.

Appendix

Regator, http://regator.com/: This is the site the chapter is based on.

Regator lesson, http://bit.ly/11aPxCi: This is the lesson on Regator by Professor Scott Moore.

Breaking news app, http://tnw.co/m1MQ4w: This article is the reference for factual information of Regator’s Breaking News app.

Regator Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regator: This article contains the history of Regator and the statistics used about Regator.

Wolfram Alpha, http://www.wolframalpha.com/: Computational search engine mentioned.

Technorati, http://technorati.com/: Another blog search engine mentioned.

IceRocket, http://www.icerocket.com/: Another blog search engine mentioned.

Google Blogs, http://www.google.com/blogsearch: Google’s blog search engine mentioned.

Google, https://www.google.com/: used for comparison to Google web search.

About the Author

Ashley Griesshammer is a current BBA student at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, studying finance and accounting. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue her CPA and join a public accounting firm. Ashley enjoys working out, all types of sports, and being active. Originally from southwest Michigan, Ashley plans to move to Chicago upon graduation, but eventually live in Florida. Her favorite football team is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and she loves Broadway theater.

2 Responses to Blog search: Regator

  1. karinap on November 29, 2012 at 3:50 am says:

    This is a very well-written chapter, and you can tell that you put a lot of time into it. I like the way that you explained how blog search is not the same as a general web search, and that one should be weary with some of the results and information that blogs may have. I think a nice thing would add would be that while in general blog searches are like that, but the fact that the Regator blogs are hand-chosen by creators to be on the site gives them a bit more credibility. Thus, specifically to Regator, you don’t need to be AS weary.

    In your second paragraph of the Intro, I was a little confused on what you meant by blogs having academic integrity. I don’t think that that is the best term to describe it. I think it’s more that blogs are not monitored for having accurate information or for using reputable sources, not that they aren’t monitored for academic integrity (it’s not like blogs are cheating!).

    I also think it would be helpful for the user to hear more about what types of searches are good for blog searches and what types aren’t. While you go into the fashion trend vs. bond calculation example, and I know that you mention that blogs are great for finding information on interests, but I think this could be even more emphasized. (In other words, I think it’s really important to emphasize that blogs are great for searching about interests and people’s opinions about things, but not necessarily for factual information).

    Finally, in your comparison to Google Search, I’m not sure whether you can say for a fact that Google’s Blog Search is inferior, as that’s a very subjective statement. While you show this through the broadway example, there are a number of searches that Google Search (and probably Google Blog Search) could outperform or give relatively equal-quality results as those provided by Regator. For instance, even by adding [broadway musicals reviews] in Google Blogs, I found that I got much better results. Just by altering the queries, the blog search engines perform relatively equally, although I do agree with you that the filters on Regator are superior. I would look into making this section of the chapter less subjective.

    While I’m unsure of what Professor Moore wants regarding to the use of the word “I”, I think you may want to try to reduce the amount of times you use it, and instead use 2nd or 3rd person (he stated this in one of his posts regarding the book chapters: http://bk4a.com/bit330f2012/post/2005/concerning-your-book-chapter). With these changes, I think that this chapter will be really great and will teach the reader a lot about Regator.

  2. jfarran on December 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm says:

    Looking at your introduction I think you have a lot of great content. My only advice would be to take a little bit more of a personal tone. It seems like you’re just spitting out facts about Regator instead of introducing someone to something they’ve never used before.

    I really liked the section on good and bad blog search topics. I think you gave great examples and really demonstrated your point. Good work!

    You should consider expanding your how to use section. You mention a few filtering tools and it would be helpful to see a screenshot or two showing the different results you get when utilizing these features and showing the reader that these are worthwhile tools.

    I also think you should focus more heavily on comparing Regator to Google’s blog search. I’m not sure you even need to mention the comparison to a regular Google web search, it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges. It would be beneficial if you’d expand on the shortcomings of Google blog search compared to Regator though.

    In your final few paragraphs I think you mention a few things that would be really good areas to expand upon. I think you should mention earlier in your chapter the benefits of creating an account. Even if you don’t go into detail until the specific strategies to get the most out of Regator section, readers should know that they have the option to set up an account. Adding screenshots about setting preferences during registration would also be very helpful.

    Finally, to the same point any expansion on the “Breaking News” feature would also be an asset to your chapter.

    Overall, great start to your chapter. I think you’ve built an excellent foundation and will be able to have a solid final product published.

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