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New “Talks About” and “Links To” attributes.

Friday, July 31st, 2009

I started realizing as I was doing searches that it would be very helpful to know what concepts are discussed on each of the pages that rank for a given set of keywords before I actually visited the page.

For instance, if I did a search for “chicken soup recipes” it would be nice to know if the ranking page also talked about “chicken broth” and “chicken gumbo” (incidentally, one of them does).  That information might influence whether or not I click-through.

Also, when searching for “alternative search engines” it would be nice to know at least a few of the other sites that the resulting page links out to.  That way I could get a quick idea of whether or not the resulting page talks about some of the alt search engines I’m not already familiar with.

Since I thought both sets of information would be useful, they are now displayed on the results pages.  Please post a comment and let me know if you find them useful as well (or not).

58 countries now supported.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I’ve added in support for all 58 countries currently supported by Bing results.  To see a list of those supported countries, visit this url:

http://searchwinds.com/countries

There’s a link to it from the menu bar on top of the pages as well.

Why SearchWinds?

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

SearchWinds offers a whole new approach to the idea of a socially-driven search engine that uses the votes of the searchers to determine ranking position.

It’s true that other search engines have attempted to incorporate user votes into their ranking algorithms, but they’ve always failed. The reason they have failed is that they counted every vote as equal: whether the voter was a regular joe searcher or a trusted authority figure or a spammer; whether the query was hugely popular or rarely searched for — all votes were equal.

But that’s not how real life works, is it?

In the real world, a person’s input on what’s good or bad depends on the individual’s credibility and track record. If a person has proven in the past that their opinions are valuable and trustworthy, then naturally their opinions hold a lot of weight. On the other hand, if a person has no proven track record, or worse, a poor one, then their opinions won’t hold nearly as much weight.

That’s how the real world works, and that’s how we wanted SearchWinds to work, too.

The Credibility Engine

SearchWinds attempts to mimic the trust that people establish over time in the real world. It does this with what we call its credibility engine.

When a user first creates a voting account, they are assigned a credibility rating of 100 — which is the baseline. That gives them a small measure of influence over the search results as they vote for what they feel should rank better (or worse).

However, if a user decides to suggest a page that they feel should be in the results for a query but isn’t, then their credibility begins to be put to the test. When other users vote for the suggested page, then the suggesting user’s credibility rises. If they vote against the suggested page, then the suggesting user’s credibility falls.

The greater a user’s credibility, the more his or her own vote counts towards the credibility of any search result they vote on, and the higher their future submissions initially rank.

The credibility engine greatly reduces the ability of a user to spam the index with junk submissions, because a spammers submissions will quickly get voted down, removing their pages from the search results and decreasing the spammer’s credibility. As the spammer’s credibility plummets, his or her future submissions will initially rank further and further down in the results. It doesn’t take long before the spammer realizes that they’re wasting a lot of time and getting no return for their efforts.

Powered By Bing

When a query is performed for the first time, the initial results are fetched from Bing.com using their developers’ API.

Bing also has a user account in the SearchWinds system (the username is, of course, bing). All initial query results are credited to that user account.

SearchWinds users can vote on what Bing says should rank for their queries just like they can vote on any user’s submissions. As those pages are voted up and down, the Bing user’s credibility rises and falls as well.

We think it will be very interesting to see over time how much users agree with Bing’s suggested search results.