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Where the Bucs start

By DAVE GUSSOW Times Technology Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 1999


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team may be looking for an offense, but we simply wanted to look for the Bucs online.

We found Bucs, lots of Bucs, and more than just the NFL kind: baseball Bucs, band Bucs, saving association Bucs -- you name it, courtesy of three prominent Internet search sites. (The team's official site, www.buccaneers.com, is under construction.)

Using Google, Yahoo and AltaVista, we typed in Bucs, Buccaneers and Tampa Bay+Bucs. Here's what we found:

Bucs

Google turned up 2,413 references to Bucs. Topping the list was a site from this newspaper referring to the football team. But second and third came from the University of Bath's computing services pages in England (that's the Bath University Computing Services, or BUCS.) Fourth through eighth were for the Anchorage Bucs baseball team. Coming in at No. 10 was NFL.com's Bucs page.

Yahoo turned up one category, which takes a user to Yahoo's Bucs football page, and 25 other sites, including BUCS Federal, a savings association in Baltimore; the Pittsburgh Pirates, also known as the Bucs; the Lady Bucs of South Dade High School; BUC International Used Boat Guide; and the Des Moines Bucs baseball team.

The list grew at AltaVista, with 13,531 results. Again, a newspaper site topped the list (not this one, though), and second was a fan's site. The rest of the top 10 featured those Anchorage Bucs again. AltaVista's first page did offer two recommendations beyond the top 10: one for the baseball Pirates and the other for the NFL's Bucs.

Buccaneers

Ahoy, mateys. Now we're into real buccaneers.

No. 9 out of 1,288 on this list at Google was a page from Columbia University about the history of pirates on the high seas. The rest of the top 10 was similar to the findings for Bucs.

At Yahoo, Buccaneers brought five categories and 46 sites, including one with Blackbeard, Jean Lafitte and other pirates. We also were introduced to the Buccaneers boys' soccer team from Toms River, N.J.; the Charleston Southern Buccaneers; the East Tennessee State Buccaneers; the Gulf High School Buccaneer Band in New Port Richey; and, our favorite, the Brisbane Buccaneers Ice Hockey Club in Australia.

AltaVista again overwhelmed, with 19,539 hits, and the St. Petersburg Times' site on top.

Tampa Bay+Bucs

Boolean searches like this one aim to cut down the clutter. Typing in Tampa Bay+Bucs meant we were looking for pages that had all those words, not just any of the three.

Google's count rose to 3,210 on this search, up from 2,413 with only Bucs. But it started with NFL.com, which scores high on relevancy.

At Yahoo, this method reduced the findings to one category and 13 sites, but the top sites listed featured sports-oriented results, including CNNSI.com, ESPN.com and the Sporting News.

At AltaVista, this kind of search produced good and bad results. It found 1,075 pages with what we wanted on one request and 784 when we checked it again, both only a fraction of the results of previous searches.

But relevant? Topping the list the first time was a site that listed only the Bucs' recent draft choices. The second time it led with a ticket and travel site -- and the link didn't work. Posters for running backs Mike Alstott and Warrick Dunn were available, as were links to various newspaper stories.

So on the Web, it's not where the Bucs stop, but where they start.

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