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IDEA #77 – Social Search Engine (take on Google)

Another idea for NYC Startup Weekend this weekend…

The Idea: Social Search Engine [take on Google!] (fb app / browser plugin / toolbar)

The Concept: Take-on Google with a social search application. Users do a search using our Search Engine in Facebook [using Google Co-Op] and the user can specify if something was a good result or not for the keyword phrase they searched on. I think we could all figure something out.

Even if we can just reach the Firefox crowd to use us; or just the MySpace/Facebook crowd instead.

The Money: Google Co-Op and collecting revenues for click-thru’s. Future: Cut our own ad deal with Google to increase rev-share of the CPC ads — or use Looksmart or Yahoo or Live.com as default engine.

The Marketing: Viral via Facebook newsfeeds and such. “Steve Poland just rated a site regarding ‘NYC Mexican Restaurants'”

Questions: When someone does a search, they go to a webpage and typically don’t come back to the search engine then — unless the result was poor, then they click back button and click a different result. How do we encourage users to rate/comment websites/webpages for their specific queries. Focus on instilling the user’s minds that they are helping their friends’ future searches and all people in the network’s future searches. It’s like one big wiki-search for the web.

Competition: Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and here’s a bunch more — 40 social search engines.

Why It Would Work: Because we’re 100+ strong, can think of something that’ll change the game, and can then be the underdogs that “took on Google in a weekend”.

  • http://www.technologyevangelist.com Ed Kohler

    Social search engines sound like a good concept, but I’m convinced that anything requiring work on the part of searchers is doomed from the start. Winning search is based on calculating the actions people are passively making unrelated to search such as link popularity, on-site factors, search behavior, etc.

    But I’d loved to be proven wrong. Anything that makes search better is a winner in my book.

  • http://alphafoobar.blogspot.com/ alpha

    You’d need a strong algorithm to give the users the power to actually find good results. Or you wait for the users to supply results and grade them, but this is a social directory – not search.

    Also, when I search I browse all the links I think are useful (tabbing them in firefox) when I’ve finished scanning the search results I start looking through my tabbed results. So this is essentially providing Google with all the results I think are good.

    There would be too many for me to find them if there wasn’t already a strong algorithm.

    But you could use a basic algorithm to toss the crap. And then a sort of monte carlo algorithm to provide ‘random’ results to the user (random in order – because order is very important in search). Then weight the results as users provide click through… you could also give the click through a frame or similar to provide input for the result from the user, otherwise you would almost only be relying on click through rates… or users rating sites before they have seen them – based on snippet?

    You’d need a well seeded algorithm to allow new sites to perform as well as old well visited sites – but this could provide a vulnerability in the search algorithm that many sites would enjoy exposing.

    Ok, I think it can be done.

  • http://kickstand.typepad.com Jordan Mitchell

    I’m convinced that the next generation of search WILL be social search, but fully believe that the vote will be passive/implicit, not active/explicit.

    There are already well-funded companies offering social search based on explicit votes — either via a thumbs-up/down mechanism, bookmarking, manual ranking, etc. That’s not working.

    People don’t want to build search results. But I think social search will work if they can vote passively. In essence, the users are the Web spiders and their behaviors form the indices.

  • http://YooRL.com Ivan

    Jordan Mitchell: this is what yoorl.com is doing (in a way). The relevance of a site is determined implicitly, depending on how well that page spreads. Maybe moving more into that direction would be the right thing to do.
    What do you think?

  • http://kickstand.typepad.com Jordan Mitchell

    Hi Ivan, well I believe moving more into that direction is a good thing, but then again I doubt you’d list technology/ranking as your biggest challenge right now. I think adoption (network effect) is the biggest challenge we all have. For us it is anyway!

  • http://alphafoobar.blogspot.com/ alpha

    I’ve been thinking about how I read RSS feeds recently, and I think a social ranking of feeds would make it so much easier to find good content… I mean if feeds and posts are socially tagged and ranked and added…

    Because I don’t often search for content in blogs, I read them… it would be good if everyone else doing that helped out a little.

  • Zmunz09

    Google +1