I have always found something special about finding information on forums. On most forums, the information you can find there is REALLY useful, almost always within reason.
The search engines below are really great at finding some of those useful forum posts. Some of them are even more relevant than Google in displaying results (for those that don’t know you can search probably over 90% of forums via Google by adding the inurl:forum operator.) All of these engines can search by post date, post number and other factors. Google can’t (currently).
Without further ado, let’s start. I have listed them by the value I think they provide. The best is at the top, the worst at the bottom.
What is it about? : You probably know you can search forums by the post title. Let’s take a look at Omgili’s advanced search page [No Longer Available]. What’s interesting there is you can choose to search for discussions in 35 languages, sort by date when the topic is created and also sort by minimum number of replies or unique users that posted on that topic. Very interesting.
Some great free services offered by Omgili are:
–: it returns Google results. Next to each result, you have one number which displays how many times that result is mentioned on different forum topics. You can also view those topics. This is very useful if, for example, you want to see what people say about a specific website or company.
– Omgili Q&A: I honestly haven’t found a better Q&A search engine than this which returns more relevant results. The bad thing is that Yahoo Answers is not included there (maybe they did this for a reason.) but overall it is very valuable web application.
What is it about? : Same basic functionality like Omgili. Difference in returning relevant results – Boardreader includes Yahoo Answers in its results. This makes them sometimes have a better relevance than Omgili in displaying some results. You can enter a site in their engine and it will display the forums linking to that site which is good if you’re a webmaster.
The thing I don’t like about Boardreader is that they try to be all in one – video search, microblogs search, they even search images! Not cool. I wonder what would have happened with Google if at the beginning (with a still undeveloped general search engine) they started spreading themselves around like this.
Boardreader should focus more on developing their forum search engines than add some (pretty basic) other types of engines on their site.
What is it about? : The guys at BoardTracker are typical old school marketers. When you come on their site you’ll see messages that remind me of: ‘We have the latest technology!!!’, ‘New! New! New!’, ‘Our product is THE BEST!’ Is it?
I guess it was either me or their site is at times very slow (not to talk about their NEW! BoardTracker version 2.0 that’s a pain in the…you know what). I’ve decided to include them in this list only for their excellent relevant results. They did their job as expected.
Overall, the 3 search engines above are pretty good in doing their job. Omgili is the best by far. They offer the biggest database and most relevant results. Boardreader includes many sources in its results and BoardTracker…well…it does its job as required and I believe they can do way more. Forums are still not dead and they are very useful so I hope these sites will come very useful to you.
Can you recommend a better forum search engine? If so, please do tell us about it.