Recently there’s been some buzz about Mahalo (something about rolling out microformats) so I decided to take a closer look at this site and I am, for the most part, impressed.
Mahalo is basically a new breed of search engine wiki-based search directory that relies on humans to power it. The idea is that users provide and submit links which should provide better search results by filtering out a lot of the spammy, irrelevant content that are indexed by the traditional search engines.
What I like most about it is that search results are presented in a very organized, intuitive way along with a lot of great complimentary information. All of this with a very usable and clean UI and very few paid ads to detract you from the results.
For example, I recently did a search for boston celtics and received a page segmented into relevant information and vital stats all within one click away (there’s even an updated conference bracket). They have also integrated social features and, naturally, their own community (Mahalo Social) allowing users to discuss, share, and recommend new links.
The shortcoming of Mahalo is that relying on humans to power the results will undoubtedly cause a lot of problems and it’s hard for me to justify it as a search engine. One such problem is the inconsistent user experience since there will always be more search terms than there are humans to submit links. So some pages have an abundance of information while other search terms have absolutely nothing (right now such pages default to Google results). In addition, a human-powered search engine like Mahalo lacks the core element of a search engine: an algorithm. So it will very difficult to maintain results that are up-to-date.
I’m not sure I would call it a search engine, but it’s a solid concept. Let’s see where Jason Calacanis takes it…