SLOVAKIA'S burgeoning Internet environment has led to the development of a number of portals in the country. While most of them offer free email and search services, the type and range of material on the sites varies widely and requires the use of Slovak language.
AZet.sk tops the 2001 list of most visited portals, according the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO). While the site offers users free email and search possibilities through the zoznam.sk portal, its content focuses mainly on entertainment, jokes, personal ads and various links.
Zoznam.sk is the second most visited, and offers a standard range of categories, news reports and weather, in addition to a free email service. Other notable features of the site include a database of firms in Slovakia as well as maps of the whole country.
Superzoznam, szm.sk, offers much the same services as zoznam, but with its picture-free home page and simpler layout, it is a much faster load than the previous two pages. The search engine here is much more flexible than other sites, allowing users a wide range of search services in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and the rest of the world.
Post.sk is another popular portal, but mainly valuable for its email service. While it does have short news reports and chat groups, the site lacks the category listings found on larger portals.
Private television station Markíza also operates a portal at markiza.sk which offers a wide range of news items and discussion groups. However, its cluttered homepage, which is full of pictures, animations and advertisements, can make it a pokey download. While the site does not offer email, it does have an SMS gate, which allows users to send three text messages per day to mobile phones in Slovakia.
Centrum.sk is another traditional portal offering mail and search services in addition to its listing of categories and news reports.
The Slovak Spectator tested the various search engines by looking for entries, both in the portals and on the web, for vyprážaný syr (fried cheese).
The winner was superzoznam, which found 68 hits covering a broad range of news and health articles, recipes, restaurant menus and personal pages on its network alone.
Centrum found 16 entries: 12 cheese producers, three travel agents offering packages to Syria and a page of jokes.
Markiza and AZet both search through Zoznam, which found six entries on its site: three cheese producers and three travel agents.
Post.sk was unable to find a single page about fried cheese.
As a comparison, Google.sk found four sites - a pub and three personal pages. Altavista.sk, the Slovak site of the American search engine, recorded 173,950 hits. However, because the Altavista searcher does not use the Slovak language and does not recognise the 'ž' character, none of the first 20 hits were about cheese.
11. Mar 2002 at 0:00 | Dewey Smolka