Yahoo's research labs have come up with a product called Mindset ("Mindset: Intent-driven Search"). The deal here is that the array of returned items is topped by a slider that lets you filter results more or less towards the commercial — "shopping," to the left — or the academic — "researching," to the right. The slider sits in the middle to begin with.
A simple search for
legal research Canada produced 8,719,918 results. (A plain search for the same terms in regular Yahoo resulted in "about 20,800,000" hits; the same search on Google got "about 19,200,000" hits.) With the slider in the middle the first item was LLRX.com – Doing Legal Research in Canada, Slaw contributor Ted Tjaden's recently updated piece. Not bad. Push the bar all the way to the right, and Ted disappears into the pack of similar, serious-minded sites that mention the search terms in one way or another. No one hawking pills or extender thingies that I could see.
Even with the bar slid all the way to "shopping" there were still some decent sites in the first crop, along with commercial ventures into legal research (and Apparel Search, oddly).
Interesting, for when it must be the internet but yet fairly serious.