Magazine article Online

Rediscovering Boardreader

Magazine article Online

Rediscovering Boardreader

Article excerpt

It's an occupational hazard of being an info pro: We get exposed to more web finding tools than we can ever use. As a result, we--OK, I--fall into the habit of checking out a resource once or twice and then pigeonholing it. "Ah, yes, that's the one that just searches podcasts," or, "This doesn't cover any of the kinds of resources I want."

Boardreader (www.boardreader.com) is one of those resources that I had looked at and mentally filed as "only use for searching discussion boards." Its initial claim to fame was doing a great job of indexing individual posts and threads within discussion groups and forums. This is a format not indexed well by the traditional search engines; it's also not something most of us need to search regularly. In fact, the whole thought of discussion groups brings to my mind bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the days of 300-baud modems. So last century!

I just revisited Boardreader.com, and I've rescued it from my mental purgatory. While its original focus was on message boards, it has expanded to other areas of the web most likely to generate conversations. Web-based discussions have emerged from the shadows and are once again proving to be a rich mine of information not found in the more traditional sources. What was once the province of geeks and nerds (among whose company I proudly count myself) is now reemerging in the form of the social web. Plus ga change ...

Perhaps appropriately, Boardreader has a retro feel to it, with no graphics and as much white space as Google. Unfortunately, also very retro is the lack of a help page or FAQ. I'm willing to forgive Boardreader for these faults, though, since it has some interesting features.

Boardreader has expanded its definition of "discussion board" over the years to include a nice variety of websites that host user feedback, such as Amazon.com reviews, Facebook discussions, Twitter and other microblogs, and even audio and video files from discussion groups.

While the default on Boardreader is to search individual discussion group posts, you can also limit your search to posts that contain your search words in the subject line or just in the name or description of the forum.

Boardreader has the usual advanced search features--Boolean logic; filters for language, domain, or date; and link search--although not, unfortunately, phrase search, even though that option appears on the advanced search page. …

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