This looks to be pretty major -Starting today, Google is adding a wiki function to the search results,
“Have you ever wanted to mark up Google search results? Maybe you’re an avid hiker and the trail map site you always go to is in the 4th or 5th position and you want to move it to the top. Or perhaps it’s not there at all and you’d like to add it. Or maybe you’d like to add some notes about what you found on that site and why you thought it was useful. Starting today you can do all this and tailor Google search results to best meet your needs.”
As with all things Google related, people are pretty quick to jump in with their opinions. Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch is not a fan,
“Google search wasn’t broken. It’s one of the few things on the Internet that isn’t. I love it, as does 62% of everyone on the Internet. This new stuff is a mess of arrows and troll comments and stuff moving around the page.”
While someone (sorry, I couldn’t find a name on the blog) over at I’ve Said Too Much, has responded to that with a post simply titled ‘Arrington is Wrong’,
“Google seeks to build a massive distributed curated search into which we are all adding intelligence without ever being aware of it. It is, I would contend, the Big Thing At Google For 2009.”
Meanwhile, over at eWeek, they’re a lot more enthusiastic, seeing it as a boon for users, advertisers and, of course, Google,
“That’s Google’s genius stroke; we believe SearchWiki is letting us control our search destiny, but Google gets to keep putting up more search ads in front of us. Google wants us to find what we’re looking for, and now it has provided a way to keep us in Google.com to do so.”
I’m personally not sure right now.
I think it will be clearly used for Google to start collecting yet more information about what people think of the search results – with the positives and negatives that suggests. People will try and game the system, promoting themselves and so on. If, however, enough people use it, then hopefully the ‘wisdom of crowds’ will help to improve things by adding that human element which is often missing from Google.
That said, I can’t help but agree with Arrington that it looks a mess. Remember how clean Google used to be?
When they first launched it was one of the major things that set them apart. All that lovely white space. The sponsored links were completely separate from the natural SERPs. No nasty banner ads. Just good search results.
But now, between the maps, local search, images, addresses and so on – these additional buttons just seem like yet more clutter.
Will it work? I don’t know. If I search for something, I’m used to Google telling me what I need to know. Using their example from above, I would not use Google to revisit a trail map site time after time, I would bookmark it instead, either on my PC or with Delicious.
I can see times when it would be useful to remove particularly bad results, but how often am I going to suggest a site be added?
And the notes I suspect, will be more trolling than useful unfortunately. I’ve tried a few so far, and there’s nothing that enhances my searching at all. A search for Liverpool FC, for instance, just has 3 right now:
Comment by: Searcher, 9:05am – searching: lfc
Comment by: Mike, 6:41am – searching: liverpool
Comment by: 360spin, 8:39am – searching: liverpool
How do they help me at all?
Perhaps Google is threatened by the growth of social networks and feels that is one area search can be improved. I’m not so sure.
What do you think?