Although Refdesk was created in order to accumulate many resources of information into one source, the culmination created a quagmire of information rather than simply providing as much as possible. There are simply too many functions that the site attempts to utilize. It's subheading, "fact checker of the internet," can now be assimilated with Google, as most people simply search for such resources instead of going to a site like Refdesk.
When deciding what needs revising most, I found that all of the links on the main page are overwhelming and redundant. One could simply put these links onto a different page, leaving only headings such as "top reference tools" and "columns and commentary" as jumping off points for the subsequent links. I would organize the site into main categories such as news, search engines, resources (including dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc), and just for fun, as almost every link on the home page could be placed into one of the aforementioned categories.
Not only would I cut down on the number of links and categories, I would try and make the home page much more comfortable for visitors. When I visit the page, I feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start because of all the clutter. Rather, I would cut the site down and make it more pleasant to visit, like Google's approach at a white, open screen with little more than a search bar. Refdesk could potentially be limited to a few categories, and a search engine could more easily allow users to find what they are looking for without arbitrarily trying links. As of now, there actually are search bars from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and YouTube, but I think that these sites are already prominent enough that if people wanted to find information using these sources, Refdesk would not enter their minds as a possible way to circumvent this information.
In this regard, I found the site's mission statement to be quite ironic. It states that "Refdesk has three goals: (1) fast access, (2) intuitive and easy navigation and (3) comprehensive content, rationally indexed. The prevailing philosophy here is: simplicity. "Simplicity is the natural result of profound thought and very difficult to achieve." It takes me a few minutes each time I visit the site just to get acquainted with the unintuitive and irrationally indexed material. In the end, I think that Refdesk's poor functionality and design are more to do with the time period in which it began. When the site was created in 1995, Google was yet to establish itself as the internet giant it is today, and Refdesk was an honest effort to try to consolidate things that today, Google does with great ease. In order to stay competitive as a fact checker, Refdesk needs a major makeover to spring it into the 21st century.