4. A communicative approach to web communication: the pragmatic behaviour of internet search engines

L. Cantoni, M. Farè, S. Tardini


In this paper websites are not approached as being just technological artefacts – which they also are, indeed – but from the point of view of communication, which is (one of) their structural purpose(s). In this perspective, the Website Communication Model (WCM) provides a model that highlights five main areas of interest when dealing with websites: the areas of contents and services offered through the website, of the tools for accessing them, of the people who publish the website, of those who access and use it, and of the “ecological” context which the website is part of.

The need for such an approach to electronic communication is well represented by the behavior of internet search engines, which strongly rely on the ‘pragmatic’ aspects of web communication. In fact, when performing the activities of collecting web pages, indexing them into their databases, and responding to users’ requests, internet search engines are relying more and more on criteria that are not directly deducible from web resources themselves, but that allow to be captured some information about the publishers and the users of the website.

In this article, examples are presented, which show the pragmatic criteria adopted by some internet search engines in the three main phases of their operation: spidering, indexing and responding.

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