Social Search Sites Such as Mahalo Challenge Stalwarts

Steve Rubel on Social Media and Marketing

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Search is broken. Of course, with Google at more than $600 a share, 91% of us using search engines and studies showing we're largely satisfied with their results, it's easy to discard this statement. The problem, however, is that search engines can bring back too much information. With content becoming a commodity, it can be difficult to separate the diamonds from the duds.

Thankfully, a number of smart entrepreneurs recognize this, and they are on the case. They see an opportunity to create a new, blended approach to search that allows us to scour the web just as we do now but with more guidance from community curators.
Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.

Mahalo, which means "thank you" in Hawaiian, is among the most notable of these upstarts. The site, which launched with a great deal of fanfare in May, is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis.

Mahalo blends wiki technology with search. The site has a small team of editors and even more volunteers who work to pull together frequently updated pages that point users to high-quality links for the top 10,000 searches in popular categories. These curated pages cover topics such as how-to articles, the latest gadget reviews and more. Pages are updated frequently as news breaks.

If a page does not exist in its database, Mahalo will aggregate results from all of the major search engines, including Google, and Ask, as well as Wikipedia and YouTube. Further, users can apply to become a guide or suggest pages and links. The only way to advertise is through contextual search ads placed through Google AdSense.

While anecdotal data shows that Mahalo may be getting some traction, it has a lot of competition in the same genre. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is preparing his own social search engine, Wikia. It promises to be more open. About, which is owned by New York Times Co., has long taken a similar approach. Finally, Google too is showing signs of becoming more social. Just recently it started allowing users to edit maps or collaborate in the open to build complete travel guides.
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