15 Dec 2009
You're a Middle East enthusiast who wants a broad regional view of Arab world events - how can Meedan.net help?
Our new-look search is a great place to start. It will serve you up a list of links and comments on any topic you're interested in relevant to the Middle East from our community of Arabic and English speakers.
How does it work?
Imagine you work for a nonprofit that works with women's groups in the Arab region. You want to keep abreast of developments in the field, and see links to articles, blogs, analysis and opinion pieces from the Arab world in your language.
From the Meedan.net homepage type in your search term.
The search will serve you a list of relevant content from Meedan.net around the search term with the latest result first.
You'll notice the search provides you with some content in Arabic, even though you searched in English. That's the real value add of Meedan: you can keep updated with Middle East events from a Middle East perspective, and vice versa for the Western world.
So the page is divided into three, showing you the Arabic and English titles of the search result, in addition to some information about what the result contains.
A Meedan search isn't just a rich search linguistically. It's also rich because there are four kinds of search results you can access, allowing you a powerful way to explore Meedan.net's discussions, translations, posted links and key users.
Results could be events, links, people or comments.
Events are Meedan.net's equivalent of a blog post: a discussion thread around a news topic with translated links and comments from a Meedan producer and our community of users. The search will give you the headline and a time stamp.
Links could be reports, blog posts, tweets, analysis, or opinion pieces posted into Meedan.net. What's exciting is that if you search in English, Arabic links will show up ready for you to open them in translation. This happens using the IBM Transbrowser - a tool that scrapes the page text and provides a Machine Translation first draft. Users can then provide edits which are immediately published on the page, and cross-posted to their profile page.
When a search returns links, you'll see some useful nutritional information, including the source, the original language of the link, and the country it is from.
People search results give you users on Meedan.net. Perhaps you've seen someone in a Meedan.net thread and want to talk with them. Or maybe you know a friend is on the site. Click on a user profile image in a search and you'll be taken to that user's profile page. You can then subscribe to them or send a message. It's a great way to connect across languages.
Comments are what users say on Meedan.net about the Middle East issues we're covering. This gives a diverse view of how an issue is being played out in our community. Or maybe you want to see how a country, politician or celebrity is viewed.
A comment search delivers you straight into a discussion. It can also take you to the user who left the comment. And because our community is mostly based in the Middle East, you can get a quick snapshot of regional viewpoints with Meedan.net search.
We hope you use it and have fun.
How is the new-look search new?
Meedan.net is soon to move to a new design which will pair Arabic with its corresponding English translation (and vice versa) horizontally across the page. This is a big shift for us - driven by our desire to make translation as easy and intuitive as possible.
Search is the first feature we've rolled out with this new design, demonstrating our commitment to create tools for cross-language dialogue.
You'll also see much more 'nutritional' information in the revamped search.
The page is clearer, neatly color coded, and includes the search term at the top of the page.
But we know Meedan.net's search can always improve - so look out for future releases on this score.
Or if you want to give feedback, email feedback [at] meedan.net or contact @meedan on twitter.