Google SearchWiki: Blessing or Boondoggle?

Sometimes you and Google are going to disagree. I know, I know, so far it’s been a fairytale romance, but it happens to the best of us, trust me.

When you do disagree, you really haven’t had any option to date but to suck it up and trudge along, pretending that you don’t care that Google’s search prioritization disagrees with your own. Now you can finally do something about your contrasting opinion thanks to Google SearchWiki.

More customizability means more productivity for web workers in the long run.

Implemented Thursday, November 20th, Google SearchWiki integrates with existing Google search results, so there are no plugins to install or additional web addresses to visit.

Just enter any search term in any Google search field and the results page that comes up will feature the new SearchWiki functionality.

As you can see in the screenshot above (and as you’ve probably noticed yourself if you’ve conducted a Google search over the weekend), SearchWiki introduces little square arrow and x icons to the right of the individual result titles. I should note that the little target icons are not part of SearchWiki, but rather appear because I have Surf Canyon installed, a very handy results mining Firefox extension.

Clicking on the up arrow “Promotes” an item, moving it up one spot in your results page. Google will remember your decision to promote items, so that if you search for the same term again, your custom search hierarchy will be preserved. Once you’ve promoted an item, a down arrow will also appear, allowing you to return the result to its original position. Clicking the x icon will remove the item from your results. Removed results can be viewed at the bottom of the page, in a list that can be collapsed and expanded, and from which individual items can be restored. You can also comment on any result listed.

You must be signed in to a Google account in order to use SearchWiki features, and your customized results will only work as long as that account is signed in. Comments, however, are a more community-based feature. For any result, you can click a “See all notes” link to see what others have said.

While tailoring your search results will definitely save you some time when Google mining and repeating common searches, the real potential for web working here lies in the new notation feature. Essentially, Google is giving users the opportunity to develop an annotated results base. As long as community members actually make use of the system, it could become a means of pre-screening search results with a human touch, resulting in quicker access to more pertinent information and less wasted time on red herrings and false leads.

If this is going to happen, it’s absolutely crucial that people become involved, and contribute to SearchWiki with some of the same zeal many have shown for Wikipedia. Yes, it will take a little more time per search, but eventually, you’ll get back that time and more. If you’ve ever had the urge to let people know how inappropriate/poorly ranked a returned Google result is, now’s your chance.

Get out there and start opining!

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