Last active 7 years ago
It is a pity the "sorting comparison" write-up only addresses English words. The WWWJDIC server is designed really as a Japanese-English service and it is made clear in the User Guide that attempting to use it in the English->Japanese direction "can result in misleading results" (see: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/wwwjdicinf.html#opins_tag )
The User Guide suggests trying a combination of the "common word" and "exact match" criteria to narrow down a search using an English word. For "cow" this option brings up a single entry (牛/うし) which is appropriate. The "exact match" option also ignores the "to" at the start of verb glosses, so when searching for "sleep" it returns (in order): 寝る, 眠る, 睡眠, 眠り, 寝 and お休み. Again an appropriate list.
WWWJDIC indexes at the token level, and the display is just an unordered list of the entries containing the token. There is no sorting as such. If you search for a Japanese word using a kana key, it displays the "common" entries first, followed by the rest. (It does two passes over the list.) See http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUJ%E3%81%93%E3%81%86%E3%81%98%E3%82%87%E3%81%86 for an example of this.
For digging into JMdict vi WWWJDIC, the new Advanced Search option (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1P ) provides a useful tool as you can use a combination of kanji, kana and English keys, including ones you want excluded.