November 04, 2007
Email Alerts: What they are and how to use themEmail alerts are a service that allows users to track updates to an entire site by receiving an email (periodically) that notifies them of these exact changes. There are a variety of sites that offer this service, each with specific benefits and drawbacks. The only experience I have with email alerts is in this class (both the in-class exercises and the use for the term project) but this is everything that I have learned.
Searching for email alertsThe first thing that we learned how to do was search for email alerts using the major search engines (Google and Yahoo). I learned that are more sites with emails for most topics than any one person could handle. Because of this, you should use specific search queries to really narrow down the topic of the alerts you are looking for. I also learned that you should use different variation of email alerts (email alerts, e-mail alerts, email alert, e-mail alert to get the most results.
General Email Alert ServicesYahoo Alerts: This is the general email alert service offered by Yahoo. The interface is very user friendly and the categories cover everything from Sports to Horoscopes to Stocks. After creating an account and signing in, you can start signing up for alerts. First you need to click a category and then select what device you would like the alert sent to (email, phone,or pager). After this you have the option of picking term to include and exclude. This is a great feature offered by Yahoo. You can decide exactly what you get updates on and what terms are excluded from the updates. One thing that I had trouble with on this site was when I clicked some of the categories I got directed to a page where I was forced to register a device besides email (which I do not have). This was kind of annoying and distracting. Other than this I really liked the site. Another great feature is the ability to link these updates through Yahoo Pipes to other stuff. I do not think I am advanced enough to use this, but if you are I am sure this is a great feature.
Google Alerts: I found that Google Alerts was much easier to set-up. It did not require a user name or anything like that. it just allows you to type in the term that you want updates about and then begin getting updates. Then after you have selected the email address you are allowed to make changes to the search, such as sending the updates to a phone via text messages. I could not find how to include or exclude specific terms using this, but I am not sure if I just couldn't find them or if Google does not offer them. For this reason alone, I liked Yahoo Alerts better, and the addition of Yahoo Pipes would definitely make Yahoo a better alternative.
GoogleAlert: This is another Email alert service, but the name is misleading. This site is not affiliated with Google what-so-ever except for the fact that they use Google searches and alter them to benefit the information trapper. I did not use this site very much, so I do not have much to say about it except that is better than Google Alerts because it does analysis after the search that Google returns.
ConclusionThis brings my analysis to an end, but as you can see email alerts are a very useful way of trapping information. They are better than page monitors because they monitor the entire site and they offer results to pages that do not have RSS feeds. Yahoo Alerts is better than Google Alerts because of the refining search features that it has.
Posted by adamcole at November 4, 2007 10:40 PM