Google SearchWiki

Shortly after I finished a post about a couple cool things Google has done recently, they announced that Google SearchWiki would be going public.

Back in the Summer, Google teased the addition of Digg-style social features into search, and it looks like these became SearchWiki. So, what does it give you?

When you’re logged into your Google Account, you can:

  • Reorder keyword search results, promoting and demoting the results.
  • Remove results from a search.
  • Add results to the search.
  • Comment on individual results, either privately for your own viewing or publicly.
  • View other people’s comments on a given keyword search.
  • See the re/ordering other people have performed on a keyword search.

Apparently, any time you’re logged into your account, your changes will appear.

At first blush, I like the idea a lot, but I’m not sure how much I’ll use it.

This seems like a useful feature for keyword searches you perform frequently, and it definitely stretches Google into several areas: social search (Spock), human-edited search results (Mahalo) and web page annotation (Diigo).

If your site generates a lot of user feedback, e.g. TechCrunch (search for “techcrunch” and click the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link toward the bottom of the page), you might find this useful. Or not, depending on the comments.

So, on the one hand, I like the addition of social features, but on the other, I don’t see them as terribly valuable. I wonder what percentage of Google searches are even done from Google Accounts. Beyond that addressable market, how many of those people would be creeped out to see other people’s comments on their searches. Or even get what the extra icons are supposed to do.

The problem here is that Google Search is an institution. It is the WWW for a huge percentage of people, e.g. I have seen people Google URLs, no joke.

Think about that for a second. They are so conditioned to Google that it has replaced the browser’s native functionality, and when told that knowing the URL actually can save time and clicks, I’ve been told that’s too hard, vs. Googling.

So, aside from a small, intersted minority, many of us have grown accustomed (and fond) of other ways to do this same type of thing, e.g. Digg and Delicious. We’re used to working around what Google does really well to accomplish what we need. I’m not sure I’ll jump over to the SearchWiki way and quit those other services.

Marshall has some interesting thoughts from Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki, over at RWW.

Anyway, here’s the video if you haven’t seen it already.

Check out SearchWiki and drop your comments in the box.




  1. This has the potential to create a significant friction between Google's ad model and end-user sentiment. To date a brand can buy mindshare through keyword purchases and result rankings. It's a one way model. With individuals sharing back their filtered sets the advertiser has less predictable control over their buys.

    More problematic would be the negative sentiment toward products and brands that a few searchers could create by attaching negative info to content. The advertisers would revolt at that. I wonder how long Google will travel this road before pulling back.

  2. Interesting point. The key will be what percentage of Google's traffic comes from signed in accounts, and of that, what percent actually uses SearchWiki. My guess is that Google could argue the impact is very small, probably fewer than 5% of its searches. That said, I wonder why they did this in the first place.

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