Where To Look For What You Need

Since December 2018 or earlier, the website no longer displays results.

Language English

Launched »In 1998 LookSmart adds a search box...« [Loren Baker, 2006]
Closed Since December 2018 or earlier, the website no longer displays results.

Developer Thornley, Evan; Tracy Ellery; Martin Hosking

Country of Origin Australia


Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Web Directory
Crawler-based, algorithmic SeEn
Community of distributed web crawler
Pay Per Inclusion Search Engine
Pay-per-click (PPC) search engine

Used SeEn WiseNut

Robot: WiseNut Robot (Source)

Robot: Grub (Source)

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

»... LookSmart has been busy rewriting the WiseNut code to incorporate it into their business plan and mesh the WiseNut search engine with the LookSmart directory. WiseNut now backs up LookSmart directory listings.« »WiseNut provides backup search results to LookSmart.« Source

2003: »LookSmart is taking a new approach to discovering web content, offering a free downloadable screensaver program that also crawls the web when your computer is idle. The program is Grub, the distributed crawling service that LookSmart bought in January for $1.4 million.

Most crawlers are centralized, run from each search engine's data centers. Grub, on the other hand, runs from the computers of anyone who has downloaded and installed the Grub client. LookSmart plans to use the information gathered by Grub crawlers to supplement the centralized crawls run by its Wisenut search engine.

"Fundamentally, the first problem we're trying to solve with our acquisition of Grub is that we know about many more documents than we can actually retrieve and analyze right now," said Peter Adams, chief technology officer of LookSmart. "We know about over 10 billion URLs right now, and we see that trend growing in terms of web pages that are being added."

[...] "Our first objective is to build a community of distributed web crawlers that will allow us to crawl all of the web documents every day," Adams said. "Not necessarily to index them all, but to assemble a database of information about them -- what's new, what's dead, what's changed."

The Grub crawler visits a list of essentially random URLs sent down from a central server. It retrieves pages and analyzes them, creating a "fingerprint" of a document, a unique sort of code that describes the document. Each time a page is crawled, Grub compares the new code to the old code. If it's different, that signals there's been a change to the page.

"Instead of crawling and send everything back, we only have the crawlers send back changed information," said Adams. This intermediate analysis of a page is impossible for centralized crawlers to perform, since they must retrieve a page and store it in the search engine's database before any analysis can be performed.

LookSmart believes that this distributed approach to crawling will be vital to coping with the growth of the Internet, and assuring that search engines continue to produce relevant results.« Source

Danny Sullivan (2004): Search Engine Timeline »10/28/96 - LookSmart launches, backed by Reader's Digest.«

»June 1996 - LookSmart redesigns site, loses last vestiges of the Java interface it debuted with.«

»2/10/98 - HotBot adds a browsable directory of web sites to its service, a branded version of the LookSmart directory.«

»9/29/98 - RealNames and LookSmart announce that the RealNames service will be integrated into LookSmart in October 1998.«

»Jan. 1999 - Direct Hit announces the availability of personalized search results. LookSmart also announced as the company's newest partner to use its popularity engine results.«

»Feb. 1999 - Microsoft announced that it will integrate LookSmart directory listings into its MSN Search results.«

»Aug. 1999 - Excite announces it is to begin using LookSmart information for its directory. MSN Search unveils a new beta site that makes use of RealNames, LookSmart and AltaVista data. Direct Hit information is also offered.« Source

Sullivan, Danny (Mar 3, 2003): »Same As They Ever Were: ... LookSmart (1996- ): Launched in 1996, LookSmart remains the only search company to heavily depend upon humans to gather its primary listings. In 2002, LookSmart bought the WiseNut crawler to complement its human-powered results. Few people search at the LookSmart site itself. Instead, LookSmart acts as a provider to others needing search results. Its major partner is MSN.« Source


»LookSmart is a double entendre, referring both to its selective, editorially compiled directory, and as a complement to users who are savvy enough to "look smart."« Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality


References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others):

Other Sources

The Rise and Fall of LookSmart. Online available at SEO Logic. URL:
LookSmart to Buy WiseNut URL:
Help LookSmart Crawl the Web URL:
Danny Sullivan (2004): Search Engine Timeline URL:
Sullivan, Danny (Mar 3, 2003): Where Are They Now? Search Engines We've Known & Loved URL:
LookSmart Adds Porn-Free Search to Net Nanny URL:
Loren Baker (2006): 10 Years of LookSmart – Visual Timeline URL:
Metamend: LookSmart PPC Search Engine Internet Marketing URL:
LOREN BAKER (2006): 10 Years of LookSmart – Visual Timeline URL:

Created: 2013-01-15