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WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers)

Contributor(s): John Thorn

WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers) is an Internet system in which specialized subject databases are created at multiple server locations, kept track of by a directory of servers at one location, and made accessible for searching by users with WAIS client programs. The user of WAIS is provided with or obtains a list of distributed database s. The user enters a search argument for a selected database and the client then accesses all the servers on which the database is distributed. The results provide a description of each text that meets the search requirements. The user can then retrieve the full text.

WAIS (pronounced "ways") uses its own Internet protocol , an extension of the Z39.50 standard (Information Retrieval Service Definition and Protocol Specification for Library Applications) of the National Information Standards Organization. Web users can use WAIS by either downloading a WAIS client and a "gateway" to the Web browser or by using Telnet to connect to a public WAIS client.

Because of the abundance of content and search engines now available on the Web, few if any WAIS servers remain in operation.

This was last updated in March 2011

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