Yahoo! Roll Out Social Search with MyWeb2.0

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Search, with a little help from your friends
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Remember i mentioned that Yahoo! were talking about social Search recently? Well, they've now announced full on social Search with an "early beta" of MyWeb2.0

Some of the highlights are

  • The trusted web – Anyone can save, tag, and share knowledge with their community. Any page on the web with your comments and insights. Your community can do the same. The result – a new search experience that combines web search with what your trusted community has tagged and shared. Users can build their community by inviting their contacts via email or by importing existing social relationships from Yahoo! Address Book, Messenger, or their 360° community. My Web 2.0 then leverages the Yahoo! 360° personal network platform to enable people to manage their search community.
  • Personalized search – My Web 2.0 is powered by Yahoo!'s new MyRank Search Technology, which provides personalized search results based on the shared knowledge of the people they trust. Personalized search is also supported by our My Search History capability, (launched in My Web 1.0 ). Over time, you will see us integrate MyRank technology across other Yahoo! applications and services.
  • Control over what is shared and with whom – Each page saved and tagged can be shared with the world, just with friends and their friends, or kept private.
  • Structured tagging – The internet is about much more than web pages – key dimensions like time and location can be as important as the content itself. With user-provided structured tags like "geo:[location]" applied to pages, search results can now can include maps to locations in addition to the web page.
  • Open APIs - Through the use of My Web 2.0's XML and RDF APIs , a whole host of new applications can be built – like what the folks in the Stanford University TAP project are working on.

In explaining the concept, Yahoo's resident blogger Jeremy had this to say

The point is that for most topics I might want to know more about, I already know someone that's smarter than me on the subject. I have my very own community of experts (we all do). I just need a way to tap into their accumulated experience.

My Web 2.0, the latest release of our My Web service might just be what they need. It gives *them* an easy way to bookmark, annotate, tag, and share sites they discover. And it gives *me* a way to get at their stuff. I can subscribe to an RSS feed of someone's newest bookmarks, or maybe just those sites they tag as "funny" or "real estate." I can search my entire community's bookmarks. Or I can just start tag surfing to see what turns up.

MyWeb2.0 won't be without it's problems, for one thing there is the issue of tagging and the ease of abuse within such an environment. Chris Sherman does a good job of explaining the issues in his SearhDay article on MyWeb2.0

The problem with tagging is that it works well in theory, and also in closed environments where a controlled vocabulary is used for creating tags. But tagging can also be misused, either unintentionally or maliciously. We're all familiar with the malicious use—spammers using web page metadata to misrepresent the contents of a page. Web page metadata failed miserably for this reason, and these days most search engines ignore it when calculating relevance.

There is also the issue of "you've built it, but will they come?" - I still find it hard to believe that JohnQ will be using things like this even if they're integrated into the main Yahoo! Search. The alternative is to do this without the opt-in, which raises all kinds of privacy hackles, but would certainly be more effective.

That aside, as Greg points out, it's a hell of a lot of work

First, this is a hell of a lot of work. Not only do I have to list my entire social network at Yahoo, but also I have to manually tag vast numbers of web pages. Who has that kind of time? The benefits would need to be absolutely extraordinary to convince people to devote this much effort to seeing improved search results.

How could you disagree with that? For my part, i'll play with it, but man, even thinking about it gives me a "no no" feeling. I just don't have the time to piss around, i need stuff now, not later...

Whatever the case though, it's an interesting Search product, and we continue to see Yahoo, Google et al make some interesting Search innovations this year, it's like a rollacoaster that's just hit the top of the steep climb, and is now plunging over the edge at breakneck speed.

Let's just hope it stays on the rails....


my thoughts

I've written a small review of this service, as well as my views about how it differs from on the social part

I just don't have the time

I just don't have the time to piss around

Yep, that's my feeling with many of these social networks. The concept is great, though I think in actuality it's a bit blue sky because it requires too much damned work on my part.

It is a powerful tool for folks who have the time and wherewithal to form communities or special interest groups, which I assume are the target audiences.

Overall impact on SEM I think might be negligible. I just can't foresee that many communities being formed that would impact commercial sectors. "Informational" communities would probably have the most impact, highlighting sites that actually do provide the best content.

As for the tag spam problem, well, again, I think it's just too damned much work. You have to work to get into a community, a closed environment, just to drop a tag. Anybody who wants to spend time gaming the system this way is somenbody I just might want as a competitor.

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