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Deep Web: The "Human Factors" Deep Web

The Deep Web Library Guide discusses why the Deep Web exists and what it contains. The Guide also provides tools for searching the Deep Web, along with resources for further information.

The "Human Factors" Deep Web

The Deep Web, as traditionally defined, results primarily from limitations in search engine technology. However, there's another kind of Deep Web, one resulting from some human limitations:

1. People often grow comfortable with a particular search engine and come to rely on it exclusively, even when using more than one search engine could result in an increased number of relevant search results.

2. The sheer number of results which a general search engine such as Google or Bing returns may overwhelm searchers, meaning that they only look at the first few results and ignore possibly higher quality or more relevant websites appearing further down in the results list.

3. The relevancy ranking features of search engines may lull searchers into a fall sense of security: they may feel there's no need to look beyond the first few search results, even though better websites, located further down in the list, are perhaps available to them.

4. Many people do not search thoughtfully. For instance, they may not take the time to choose the best keywords, or to refine their initial keywords based on their search results. 

These factors may result in searchers not seeing or obtaining useful search engine results, even though those results are available to them. Searchers in these instances are, in effect, creating their own personal deep or invisible webs, which are every bit as limiting as the "real" deep web -- the one consisting of web sites which search engine spiders cannot index.

Note: The above ideas are discussed in Jane Devine and Francine Egger-Sider's 2014 book entitled Going Beyond Google Again: Strategies for Using and Teaching the Invisible Web (available at Florissant Valley, Forest Park and Meramec campus libraries).


St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000