nmkforum2007: human powered search?

By on Jun 13, 2007 in conferences/events | 2 comments

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Calacanis Jason Calacanis, the first speaker at the NMK Forum 2007, kicks off his presentation by asking “What can you do if you disagree with the place your website appears in the google or other search results?” Well, nothing. And that, Calacanis thinks, is what started the whole Search Engine Optomisation industry that basically exists to game google’s algorythms. In fact, Calacanis says, the lack of any arbitration in search results is leading to the declining relevance of search results – just as spam has ruined email and splogs are ruining technorati.

Kevin Anderson writes, over on Strange Attractor:

“At the NMK Forum in London, Jason Calacanis has just announced Mahalo Greenhouse, part of the recently launched Mahalo human-assisted search directory. The Greenhouse will allow the public to add search results and, if accepted by the site’s guides, get paid for them…Jason’s thinking is that Reuters, AP and DowJones employ hundreds of people to write editorial content, why not employ 100 people to curate search.”

Anyone who feels agrieved by their placement (or absence) in Mahalo’s results can discuss that placement on Mahalo’s forum and Maholo is inviting users to help populate the index of sites, paying them for those efforts. Great, but other than those two details, it seems to me that Mahalo’s model was pretty much lifted from Yahoo, circa 1995: users submit sites to a group of editors who decide whether or not to include the site in the index.

Not so revolutionary then. But having humans involved in the process of determining what does and doesn’t go into the index seems a reasonable way of keeping spam from ruining the results. If, that is, we can – as Euan Semple pointed out in his question at the end of Calacanis’ presentation – trust the “under employed editors in Santa Monica” and their judgements.