06 August 2008

Searchme.com Assessment — Part IV Conclusion

The following is the fourth and final part of my searchme.com assessment, a distinctly different search engine.

As someone with the right hard/software, I absolutely love searchme.com. The presentation of screenshots, embedded videos, and images in a rolodex style makes for a truly unique searching experience.

Site Screenshots Rock!
In particular, I enjoy seeing screenshots of sites before I visit them. This is a feature I’ve always wanted in a search engine. How often have you Googled a site, the details seem right, but when you visit the site, it’s crap or spam? The downside I see to this feature is that the screenshots work best for sites with less-frequent updates. Blogs might not serve up the most accurate screenshots. Which raises my next concern…

Blogs Rank Low
Very few, if any blogs appear in searchme.com’s results. Perhaps this is part of their approval policy. Blogs change so frequently that their authority is questionable. Google used to prefer static pages, taking the tack that sites that have been around for awhile with no updates and are linked to constitute authoritative sites. Whatever the case, bloggers of all types will probably not run to promote searchme.com, as we are the ugly stepchildren.

Questionable Ethics of Site Reviews
As mentioned in my first post, searchme.com employs a human-review process for all sites submitted to their list of available sites. Although I like that this removes the possibility of bots tricking the system, this raises some ethical concerns for me:

1. What are the criteria for “quality”?
You can spot spam and scams easily enough, but what about sites that offer quality information that is chockfull of typos. A curmudgeon would oust it immediately. But just because an author offers info written in text message format doesn’t mean the info is wrong or not quality. Then there’s the web design aspect. Do all the sites accepted by searchme.com have to adhere to a modern design, dumping any pages created with, say, the lackluster GeoCities software?

2. Where does this leave “adult” sites?
This question has plagued every search engine or social network since they became popular. Filters help in the acceptance of adult sites that don’t violate the more intensely illegal forms of pornography like pedophilia or bestiality sites. But, what of those sites that walk the line? Who makes the call?

3. Do the “giants” automatically get ranked higher?
I know that searchme.com is just getting started. Of course, they would opt to fill their search results with images from the ever-popular Flickr, YouTube, and Wikipedia. But, will searchme.com create an algorithm that produces organic search results that account for other sites besides the giants?

Overall, I give searchme.com highest marks and look forward to seeing how they progress over the next couple years. Check them out!

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