Effyis, a company created by mechanical-engineering students from the University of Michigan, recently developed www.boardreader.com, a search engine that collects and categorizes data in message boards. "Search engines can find Web pages, but we realized there was no method to find and organize the information on message boards," says Effysis cofounder Peter Smith.

The site provides linked access to various bulletin boards about automotive, arts and antiques, boats, computers, entertainment, health, home and garden, motorcycles, outdoor recreation, sports, and travel. "We found that message boards had two functions," says Smith. "One was to swap information and the other was to buy and sell things. We wanted to develop a way to split the comments from the commerce."

The site contains sections for classified ads; featured classifieds which link users to sites where items are bought and sold; and general information.