August 24, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Internet search gets Web 2.0 style

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Microsoft is getting into the social act, too, but on a lesser scale. The company is planning in the next few months to launch Windows Live Q&A, said Ramez Naam, group program manager for Windows Live Search. "There are some queries where it is hard to find what you want on the Web," he said.

Google, meanwhile, has Google Answers, where people set a price they are willing to pay to get questions answered, and Google Co-op, which lets self-described experts in a field tag Web sites that Google will then include on the main search page.

But not everyone is convinced.

"It's a little too nascent to tell if it's going to take off. It may be too complex right now for mainstream Internet users," said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise.

Right now, social search is "fundamentally flawed," added Search Engine Watch's Sherman.

"No matter how many people get involved with bookmarking, tagging, voting or otherwise highlighting Web content, the scale and scope of the Web means that most content will be unheralded by social-search efforts. The Web is simply growing too quickly for humans to keep up with it," he wrote in his blog.

Of course, several companies have been down this road before.

Ask.com, formerly Ask Jeeves, launched its Answer Point question-and-answer site in 2000 but pulled the plug in 2002, finding that people had little incentive to answer questions in a free service, according to Ask Chief Executive Jim Lanzone. "We observed that only a small group of 'experts' took the time to answer questions for others," he wrote in an e-mail that was reprinted on Search Engine Watch. "It was usually just faster and easier for people to search normally, iterating on their searches, than to submit a question to the community and wait for an answer."

A group of Ask employees then moved over to InfoSearch Media to work on its AnswerBag Q&A site, including George Lichter, chief executive of InfoSearch, who was president of Ask Jeeves International. AnswerBag has 1 million unique visitors a month and about 80,000 registered users, he said.

This time, they'll be delivering answers with a Web 2.0 cache.

"Social Q&A is not just about the answer. It's about the interaction; the asking of the question and the understanding who answered, and all the dialogue that goes around it. That's critically important," Lichter said. "So many questions we have in life have some subtlety to them, some judgment, and that's what people are seeking in social search."

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8 comments

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Social Search
The point of social search is not to have more results than Google, nor to have "better" results, since better is a relative value. I would view the overall point of social search as the ability of content submitters to make their voices heard, and for the coentent consumer to gain a real value from the submitted content.

Take <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.onesort.com," target="_newWindow">http://www.onesort.com,</a> the ability to rate each submitted site on a (variable) set of criteria makes it easy to quickly see if the site is well liked, useful, or pretty, and let's you decide which result has the type of content you're looking for.
Posted by AngryEd (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Jean-Pierre Khoueiri talks about Social Search
Social search may not have reached the mainstream yet, but mak
no mistake, it will. It will take longer to catch on than other
movements such as blogging and search, but when it the moment
is right, social search will be an unstopable wave of a magnitude
never before seen.

By ConstantClick CEO-Jean-Pierre Khoueiri
Posted by www.ConstantClick.com (5 comments )
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Relevant Sources
The goal of social search should be to mimic real life - where we seek opinions from relevant people as we make important decisions. Relevance of the people providing inputs is the key factor - relevance could be based on the relationship/trust between the two parties, subject matter "expertise", etc. In order to get social search to work you must get people with relevant/high affinity relationships to interact. Social networks can do this but the network must focus on creating high affinity interactions. This is achieved by focusing the network on a specific demographic or interest. If you can create such a network, social search could be a reality. SchoolParentNet (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.schoolparentnet.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.schoolparentnet.com/</a>) is working to do this for the parent community.
Posted by anspn (25 comments )
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The masses will help "traditional" search
Social search will be highly valuble to end users -- not in place of traditional search, but as a way to tease out what is truly relevant. Somehow the big public search engines will need to converge on something in-between. We (baynote.com) already combine keyword search with our social search for businesses who want better search and navigation.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Yedda
You might also want to check out Yedda (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://yedda.com" target="_newWindow">http://yedda.com</a>), a recently launched social knowledge exchange service.

Yedda provides a new and innovative experience when it comes to sharing knowledge, by leveraging 2 key features:
- Question classification (associating a question with one or more topics) is done in free form (e.g. tagging), and is assisted with automatic text analysis.
- Questions asked on Yedda stay fresh for as long as the person who asked them wants. This is achieved using a unique active question broker that is attached to each question. The active broker continues to monitor the question and highlight it to relevant people, even after newer questions are posted, hence preventing the "bulletin board effect".

In addition, Yedda provides a smoother experience, by allowing questions and answers to be as long and as detailed as needed, and to include rich media when needed (e.g. formatting, links, images, videos, ...).

While quite new, there is already a vivid community around Yedda with fascinating questions and answers.
Posted by yanivg (1 comment )
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A New Innovator in Social Search
I wanted to highlight that www.blinklist.com is rapidly innovating in the social search and discovery arena. Check out their latest blog post that lists many of their most recent innovations along social search:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blog.mindvalley.com/2006/12/17/blinklist-advances-social-search-and-discovery/" target="_newWindow">http://blog.mindvalley.com/2006/12/17/blinklist-advances-social-search-and-discovery/</a>
Posted by mreining (1 comment )
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LinkShouter.com - Search 2.0
Please try www.LinkShouter.com for free, no signup, no annoying formfilling - simply shout out your links.
Posted by sebacorp (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Search by API: Yimmiy
Yimmiy Search is a search engine searching the web in a mix of tradional and Web 2.0 style, making use of API's only. It searches the web simultaneously for various kinds of content (web, video, photos, new and blogs) from various providers (Yahoo, Live, LiveVideo, YouTube, Picasa, Google, Flickr etc), showing all in one list and using colors for the contenttypes.

The content provided by the traditional providers (yahoo, live, gigablast) is being ranked in the traditional way. The content provided by the Web 2.0 providers (like flickr, youtube, vimeo, truveo, blogmarks ea) is being ranked by their users. In this way, Yimmiy :) Search (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.yimmiy.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.yimmiy.com</a>) can also be categorized as a Web 2.0 search engine. It uses just enough of AJAX and we are planning to expand people search with the new initiative of Google: Social Graph and searching the public people profiles of LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.

I hope you will take this under review and get back at me on how to improve it for the internet society.
Posted by indivp (1 comment )
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