SortFix Adds Visual Aids To Search

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 22, 2008
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Internet, Search

You have got casual Internet users and advanced Internet users and the way they search is totally different from each other. The casual Internet users enter a search term in a search engine and go through the results. If they cannot find what they are looking for they either stop in frustration and get the information locally or try another search term. The advanced user refines the search so that the results match exactly what he was looking for.

SortFix is a search mashup for Google, Yahoo and Dmoz that provides a usual search form on first glance. A user can input a search phrase, pick a search engine and wait until the results are showing up. The result pages on the other hand are looking different than the ones known from Google or Yahoo. They still show the search results for the entered search term but they also display four boxes on top which are labeled Power Words, Add To Search, Remove and Dictionary. The options provide access to a fifth box named Standby which can be activated.

SortFix checks the results and adds the search term that the user entered in the search box in the Add To Search box. Power Words are gathered from analysing the search results. Those are related words of the search phrase. A user searching for network monitoring would see words like server, software and protocol analyzer in the Power Words box.

He can then use the mouse to drag and drop those words either in the Add To Search box which would be the equivalent of adding the term to the search phrase or in the Remove box which would equal the (-) operator in the search engines.

The last box is the Dictionary box which provides definitions for words that are dragged into it. Not all words are defined.

The advanced box the standby box which can be used to move words into that should not be used for the current search but that are worth keeping for future searches.

There are also two additional parameters in the advanced display. The OR parameter can be used to add the OR parameter to the search. A user could for instance search for cars OR automobiles. The second parameter can be used to included synonyms in the search.

Both the basic and advanced display allow the creation of words. The user can create a word that he wants to add and drag it into the appropriate box.

The SortFix engine makes use of three different types of scans for related words. The basic search is performed when a user presses the search button for the first time. The other two are performed when the user presses the search button again without changing the search query. The effect is usually that the power words are related more closely to the search phrase.

The visual component helps users refine search results. SortFix is working pretty well and there are only a few minor quirks that have been encountered. There is no undo function. It is possible to drag words on the Clear button which will remove them from the search but an undo function would be handy as well.

The second problem arises when a user switches between the available search engines. There seems to be a problem with Yahoo search results because none are displayed. The search terms are taken over to the new search which works fine in the Dmoz directory. Even a simple search for a one way word like Network reveals no results in Yahoo.


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  1. Bill said on September 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm


    I grew up learning in correct English grammar to use the masculine pronoun as a generic word to include people of both genders. In fact, that useage has been standard throughout the ages until the second half of the 20th century. (It’s also been standard in other languages I’m familiar with.)

    But, more lately, that use of language is being seen as indicative of a male-bias mindset. Many women (and men) who are interested in the equality of people are offended by it. They don’t want women to be ignored or subsumed under a masculine category word. (Personally, I’m glad the issue arose because it made me aware of my own unconscious language bias.)

    Thus, for example, because of awareness of gender equality, in English the use of the word chairman or spokesman is falling into disuse in favor of the words, chairperson or spokesperson, two gender-neutral words. Some writers even use the clumsy formula “he/she” to show gender equality in pronouns. There are many more examples.

    It’s my impression that most current professional English writers are being careful to avoid the gender trap.

    The gentle purpose of my original comment was to point out the issue and to share my own preference with you. What I see is that the English language is now evolving away from expressions that foster unconscious male dominance.

    If I’ve gotten you to think about it, I’m happy :). After all, your blog has gotten me to think about things I would have otherwise let pass unnoticed!

  2. Martin said on September 23, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    I always thought that using He for user would be ok. Is it wrong?

  3. tomb said on September 23, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    i think it does not matter how he wrote it
    it is quite weard writing

    but man how did he find this website??
    he is a master
    very cool ..

  4. Bill said on September 23, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Martin, you wrote, “He can then use the mouse to drag and drop those words…”.


    Instead of a masculine pronoun, my preference is to see a non-gender specific word. For instance, you could have continued to repeat one of your earlier phrases, like “the user” and say, “The user can then drag and drop those words…”.

    A momentary lapse, I’m sure. :) But for me, significant enough to make you think about it!

  5. isabel votre said on September 23, 2008 at 10:17 am

    using it from now on
    when will yahoo work?

  6. sulimagi said on September 23, 2008 at 4:00 am

    I like:)
    I found it on youtube two

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