Historically, HotBot, founded in the summer of 1996, was a metasearch engine designed to acquire information from the World Wide Web. In its prime, it grew to become a popular tool which provided its search results from databases provided from the Inktomi Corporation and directories from Mozilla and LookSmart from the beginning of 1999 (WordStream, 2017). Furthermore, the engine took much of its databases from Direct Hit, a tool that utilized common clicks to organize the appearance and structure of results. HotBot was released utilizing the marketing strategy of “new links”, promising to update its pools of information for users to access much more often and faster than the competition that existed at the time (WebSearchWorkshop, 2012). Furthermore, it briefly utilized free hosting for web pages and one of the very first engines to provide the ability to search within existing search results. Wired Magazine, the group responsible for the engine’s development, sold the rights to the property to Lycos once their company had been acquired in 1998.
Up until the year 2002, HotBot faced a decline in their market share given the new limitations on development (WebSearchWorkshop, 2012). By the end of that year, the product was rebranded as a multi option query tool, providing users the ability to search from either the Teoma, FAST, Inktomi, or Google databases (Miller, 2014). For the next 9 years, it acted as front end access to third party engines, expanding to MSN, Yahoo!, and IyGo. In July of that year, it was relaunched yet again with a brand new logo, modern design to the website, and a new mascot. Its revamped interface allowed it to act as a portal with returned searches from various websites belonging to their parent company Lycos, including but not limited to Weather Zombie, News, and Shopping (Miller, 2014). However, this interface and its features were short lived, and were soon incorporated into the redesign of Lycos’ website (WordStream, 2017). During October of 2016, the parent company sold the rights to the HotBot domain name for just over $150,000 to a buyer that decided to remain anonymous.
As it exists today, HotBot provides several features that reflect those of its past. Upon reaching the main website, the user is greeted by the standard search bar, which is initially blank. Next to the bar includes a bright yellow search button whose color scheme is reflected in the HotBot logo that floats above, featuring a silhouette of what looks to be a small ghost. At initial glance, one might believe that HotBot has indeed been preserved to offer the same features provided during its 20 year lifespan (WordStream, 2017). However, that belief is quickly dispelled upon glancing at the three hyperlinks just below the search bar, which are conveniently named “Blog”, “UK Price Comparison”, and “US Price Comparison” (HotBot.com, 2017). This suggests that the entire purpose of the domain has altered from its original design. Many blogs are provided in 4 column orientation below the hyperlinks, offering small previews of the material contained within and granting the user the ability to read more about a particular article.
When one searches for topics related to the four major academic disciplines including math, science, technology, and medicine, the user is greeted with search results that mirror that of Google, the world’s most advanced search engine today (HotBot.com, 2017). Many of the results provided include links to games and online practice tools for better understanding. As the website provides search within search results, queries related to subtopics such as Calculus, iPad, global warming, and carcinoma revealed links that pertained specifically to the subtopic. Like Google, one can create an account, narrow down searches based on date, time, and relevance, keyword, and hierarchical categories (HotBot.com, 2017). The results also allow for boolean searches, spell check correction, and are presented in easily understood format (HotBot.com, 2017).
- Hotbot.com. (2017). HotBot. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from https://www.hotbot.com/
- Miller, M. (2014, March 10). A Short History of Online Search. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=2181834
- WebSearchWorkshop. (2012). HotBot: A brief history of the HotBot search engine. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.websearchworkshop.co.uk/hotbot_history.php
- WordStream. (2017). THE HISTORY OF SEARCH ENGINES. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from http://www.wordstream.com/articles/internet-search-engines-history