1. Search Engine Marketing

Mahalo? Ma-ho-hum

Another day, another search engine getting some buzz.

This one, Mahalo, has some pedigree behind it – well, if you can call it that. Jason Calacanis, the entrepreneur behind WeblogsInc, is the CEO. Calacanis is notoriously against any kind of search engine optimization, so it’s fitting that this doesn’t apply in Mahalo’s ranking. What do you get when you take the SEO out of the SE? In my book, a pretty poor excuse for an engine.

Here are a few problems I have with Mahalo:

1) It takes too long to scan the results. They’re categorized, but there aren’t descriptions – it’s hard to differentiate one link from another.

2) It’s all human powered, which means it’s arbitrary. I’m also skeptical that any kind of Wiki-style search engine will ever gain traction. For a search on John McCain, for instance, Amazon and IMDB are the third and fourth links – is this really what people want? And why do CBS News (with a news article) and Fox News (with a video link) get priority over other sites?

3) Lon Harris wrote the McCain page. Lelah wrote the cake page. Jonathan wrote the page on apple, the fruit (disambiguated from Apple, the computer company and Apple, the record label). Who are you people? It’s funny, I wouldn’t really trust my friends to choose the most relevant search results for me. I have very few friends (Cara excluded) with whom I share the vast majority of interests and preferences. I don’t even trust all the links the email and IM me. So why the heck would I trust Lon, Lelah, and Jonathan?

It’s funny, when we get into the trust issue. I trust my camera to work, but I wouldn’t trust a friend to take pictures for me. I trust my TV to work, but I wouldn’t trust a friend to program my digital video recorder (DVR). I trust my search engine to work, but I wouldn’t trust anyone with ranking my search results. Yet I do trust Sony for my camera, JVC for my TV, and Google for my search engine. (I wonder if friends of Larry Page and Sergey Brin have that issue.)

What do you think – would you trust someone else to rank your search results? And do you trust Mahalo?


I forgot to mention that Mahalo also doesn’t link to sites with adult content. It doesn’t stand a chance.

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Comments to: Mahalo? Ma-ho-hum
  • May 31, 2007

    Mahalo? Ma-ho-hum

  • May 31, 2007

    David — Isn’t this how Yahoo started back in the day? All of the search results were people-filtered and categorized to make the experience better. They gave up on that idea as the volume of content being created surged. Surely great content will sneak through their team undetected. Spiders are better at getting more information in a shorter amount of time and algorithms have become pretty good at delivering results. I also like my search results to be unbiased.
    One of the more promising engines I’ve seen is 50matches.com. I love their idea though the implementation is off. They index social media content since it’s being filtered by humans for humans already.

  • May 31, 2007

    Matt, thanks for your thoughts on this.
    Your comment with Yahoo is dead on. Even though it was indexing content manually, it has perennially had to play catchup with Google since Yahoo came to search relatively late in the game.
    With 50matches, it’s not a bad idea. What I’d really love from something like that is to see more of a buzz monitoring approach – since it’s indexing what everyone’s saying, what are the top links, the top keywords/phrases/ideas, etc across social media sites? It seems like 50matches would be in a decent position to offer that.

  • June 1, 2007

    Short Tail Search: Calacanis Launches Mahalo
    Google didnt invent the long tail, but it certainly enabled it. With its original algorithm, Google enabled searchers to find information on the most obscure search terms with surprising accuracy. Adwords enabled advertisers to target obscure…


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