Oneupweb Reviews: Mahalo: Reinventing the Search Wheel With Social Features

Wow.

That’s my reaction to changes Mahalo has made to become more social-friendly and, well, just more. And maybe the most. Of everything. There is so much happening that Oneupweb Reviews is, by necessity, going to separate this site review into a three-part series. First we will look at how Mahalo fares as an alternative search engine, and then we will investigate the newer offerings, such as LiveBlog and Mahalo Answers in subsequent posts.

Short history: Mahalo launched in 2007 as an alternative search engine that doesn’t use an algorithm to deliver its results. Thus, their tagline: “human powered search engine.”

Because it is human powered, the site claims it provides spam-free, rich content. In other words, Mahalo is organizing all the search results you want into categories while eliminating all the stuff you don’t want.

From the home page you can:

  • Search multiple social media sites and other search engines
  • Use Mahalo Answers to post questions to Twitter, Facebook or the Mahalo community
  • Read the Twitter-esque LiveBlog
  • Read stories on Mahalo News & Mahalo Features
  • Find a slew of information already pre-categorized by interest

When you conduct a search, Mahalo returns its own search engine results along with results from Google, Yahoo!, Live Search, Ask, Wikipedia, Del.icio.us, YouTube and Flickr. These Results appear in frames organized by tabs.

The more general search engine queries return average results. When you get into more geo-targeted terms what you’ll get is anyone’s guess.

After searching “traverse city restaurants” there were no results returned from Mahalo. When I searched for “san francisco restaurants” Mahalo returned a page with fast facts about the city, other Mahalo-related pages about the city, as well as links to tourism and restaurant review sites.

How is the name of the mayor of San Francisco and the average climate relevant to my search for a restaurant?

While it’s nice you get a Google map with a few pinpointed restaurant locations, users really have to search through results for relevant information.

I suppose I could pose the question “What are the best restaurants to eat at in San Francisco, California” by using the Mahalo Answers features. Unfortunately this is slow because answers are emailed to members. You do have the option to bribe, um…I mean “tip” Mahalo members for the best answer. No thanks.

I’m a proponent for a one-stop shop search and social aggregation site, but I think Mahalo needs to leave search to Google. Why reinvent the search wheel and decorate it with social features?

Oneupweb Reviews: Thumbs-Down!

Read more about my experience with Mahalo Answers during my next post.